Social media marketing is quickly showing its effectiveness for brands of all sizes. Social media interaction with a brand creates a two-way dialog with customers and prospects that traditional marketing channels simply can’t compete with. Businesses can effectively listen in on the conversation surrounding their brand and inject their message when they feel it’s appropriate. With a completely different dynamic than traditional mediums, and numerous sub-channels within the social media category, campaign testing is more important than ever.
Unlike email or SMS that have only one delivery method, social media marketing can consist of spreading your message on sites ranging from Twitter and Facebook to YouTube and a bevy of others. While it presents benefits in terms of delivery and overall reach, it also presents some challenges in terms of knowing how and when to engage your audience. Testing everything from which social network will be most effective, to timing, nature of content and whether or not to inject an offer or keep it conversational, etc., can make or break a campaign.
Split testing in social media campaigns differs from other channels in that you don’t have as much control of the timing or range of your message. Because of the nature of social media, the messages that you send out can be duplicated endlessly via retweets, comments or reposts which will, in turn, change both the audience size and the time it was received. In addition, the built-in analytics usually associated with email, SMS and online marketing aren’t as prevalent. Because of these limitations, your testing should be based on the type of content presented and the social media network that is used.
As an example, some messages may be better suited for the simple, notification-based structure of Twitter. You may simply want to scratch the surface of the offer or message and lead the readers to a landing page that has more information or a form to fill out for the offer. Other messages may be suited for the conversational, feedback rich nature of Facebook.
Without built-in metrics, you can easily setup custom URLs to use on different networks and different campaigns to monitor performance. Services like Bit.ly can turn your campaign URLs into easily trackable links and Google Analytics offers solutions like pixel tracking on various networks to export metrics into your dashboard. Through third-party solutions, social media can be as measurable as any other form of marketing.
Since there is no easy or reliable way to segment your audience on most social media networks, testing generally involves a series of launches, tweaks and relaunches. Watch the feedback and results closely on each round and once the message mix is optimized, ramp up messaging frequency to put the campaign into full swing.
As you continue to experiment with your social media campaigns, you’ll begin to build an understanding of what works and what doesn’t, which areas to focus on and which offers your audience is most responsive to. When you’ve identified the strengths and weaknesses of your initial strategy, you can deploy your final campaigns knowing you’ve left no stone unturned in terms of research and testing.