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Time and time again, you will hear how important goals are to building a successful brand on social. And SURPRISE – this post will be no different.

Today, let’s focus on Facebook. To reach your Facebook goals, whether it is through a few ‘likes’ or several purchases, you must construct the perfect post that resonates with your audience.

So what does that perfect post look like? It’s simple – you must first A/B Test.

What is A/B Testing?

When you think of a science experiment, there is always a Control and a Test Group. The Control Group is a common practice (In this case, a normal post you would publish) and the Test Group changes one element from the common practice, leaving all other elements unchanged, to find if the change effects the results seen from the common practice. For example, changing Buy Now to Shop Now and receiving more purchases.

In other words, you take one group of people, split them in half, and give each group a different post (the control or test) so you can compare the results and determine a winning social strategy.

What should I A/B Test?

First and foremost, you must clearly identify goals you want to learn about your social audience. Like what posts will improve engagement with likes, shares or comments; or spark more reach by increasing fans or impressions?

Once goals are decided, you can brainstorm on what to test. We have already written five social media tests to get you started here; with Time of Day, Contests, and Frequency among the five.

And as a bonus, think about changing CTAs (calls to action), different images with the same message, or even text-only messages to images with text – all depending on your goals.

But, how much does A/B Testing cost?

As a small business, time and money are always large factors to consider. The good news is you have a choice of investment by testing through the Organic or Paid channel.

Paid

Through Facebook’s Ad Objectives, you are prompted with questions to determine the goals of creating your ads.

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Step by step they will help you create a campaign that can be targeted by your desired audience or goal.

In Facebook Ads Manager, you manage all of these campaigns (along with the cost associated with them) and allow Facebook to automatically split the impressions amongst your test audience to compare your results.

Organic

While still effective, Organic is a bit more whimsical than the Paid method. Since Facebook doesn’t give an option to split your audience perfectly into A and B groups, we have to be a bit more creative working around this to still conduct your tests.

For small companies determining the success of their Facebook posts is a tough process based on the amount of engagement they get per post. Therefore, we suggest gauging your success after a period of one week.

Here’s how:

First, publish your control post making sure to document the day and time. Then, measure engagement metrics (impressions, likes, shares, etc.) after one week. On the same day and time the following week, publish your test post.  After one week, measure all metrics, compare your results, and determine the winning post.

How do I determine a winner?

Remember those goals you established in the beginning? Try referencing your Pagemodo Analytics in the Posts tool and compare your two posts (control and test) side-by-side to look for differences in the metrics that matter to your goals.

Was your goal to send more traffic to your website? Look at the clicks metric to see if one version had more clicks than the other.

Was your goal to let more people know about the sale you have running? Look at impressions and shares to determine the breadth of your sale.

For both of these questions, you can also reference Google Analytics. In the left-side panel, under ‘Acquisition’, there is an entire category devoted to Social. You can analyze which network sent traffic to which landing page, and see if it led to any conversions. All of which can supplement the information you gathered from Pagemodo’s analytics page.

And of course, you can still utilize Facebook Insights to gather a large variety of statistics. Ranging from likes, shares, and comments to percentages of likes per impression or likes per fan that can help you define the success of your campaigns.

The important thing is to record all your tests and analyze them week by week. That way you know what worked, what didn’t, and how to move forward.

Why should I A/B Test?

After conducting a series of tests, you will slowly fine-tune your posts to the satisfaction of your audience. The more you test, the more you learn. In doing so, you will find the “sweet-post-spot” to use throughout your social strategy and reach the goals you have projected for this channel – all while making your users happy!

A/B testing is for all methods of marketing, so let’s help each other out and share your successful tests in the comments!

About the Author: Deanna Zaucha is the Content Marketing Coordinator for Webs and Pagemodo, and also manages our social media presence. She can be found on a dance floor, or on her iPhone keeping up with trends in marketing and tech.

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