Picture this. You’re running through your social media strategy with the leadership team and ready to launch. But one big question still needs to be answered: how do you know if your social media strategy will actually work?

You could, of course, go for the tried-and-true method of throwing your social media report against the wall and seeing if it sticks. But in this day and age, there’s a better way to test your social media strategy before you launch it. This process is called social testing.

Not sure what social testing is or how to do it? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. We’re giving you the 411 on social testing and how to do it for a results-oriented social media strategy.

So grab a nice cup of coffee (or tea, we don’t judge) for yourself, and let’s get started.

What Is Social Testing?

In short, social testing is the process of trying out your social media content and strategies before you publicly launch them. It is done by creating test groups of target audiences and exposing them to your content in a controlled environment. After observing how they react, you can then make changes to your content or strategy before launching it to your entire audience.

Let’s say you work for a cloud computing company. You’re ready to launch a social media campaign about the benefits of cloud computing for retail and hospitality businesses. But before you do, you want to make sure that your content will resonate with your target audience. You could put out your campaign and hope you get enough engagement to justify the time and effort you put into it, or you could create a test group and see how they react to your content before you launch it.

Social testing can you help discover:

  • How your target audience engages with your content
  • What kind of messaging resonates most with your target audience
  • What type of content format works best with your target audience
  • How to distribute your content effectively 
  • When is the best time to post for your target audience

Advantages of Social Testing

So, now you know what social testing is and how it can help you fine-tune your social media strategy before launch. But what are the other advantages of social testing? We’re glad you asked. There are a number of marketing challenges social testing can help to overcome. This includes:

You Can Avoid Potential PR Disasters

We all know that social media moves quickly. And when you’re trying to appeal to a broad audience, there’s always the risk of saying something that will rub people the wrong way. For example, Pepsi’s political protest ad was met with widespread criticism and caused the company to pull the ad and issue an apology.

Social testing can help you avoid these kinds of PR disasters by allowing you to test your content with a small group of people before you launch it to your entire audience. This way, if there are any potential red flags, you can catch them before they cause a major issue.

For example, let’s say you’re a marketing team based in the United States, but you’re putting out a campaign on the signature definition law in Canada. Your team may not be familiar with Canadian culture and customs, so there’s a risk that your content could come across as tone-deaf or offensive. But if you social test your content with a Canadian test group first, you can get feedback on how your content is being received and make changes before it goes live. 

You Can Save Time and Money

Social testing can also help you save time and money in the long run. How? By helping you avoid costly mistakes that could set your social media strategy back.

For example, let’s say you want to launch a social media campaign targeting app owners. You want to show them the benefits of your software that can help them monitor the applause digital users have for their app. So you create a campaign and start promoting it on social media. But after a few weeks, you realize you’re not getting the engagement or conversions you were hoping for. You learn the content wasn’t simplistic enough for your target audience or that the timing of your posts was off.

If you had social tested your content before, you would have saved yourself time and money by launching a more effective campaign from the start.

You Can Test Different Content Formats

Social testing is also a great way to test different content formats to see which ones work best with your target audience. For example, if you’re not sure whether a blog post or an infographic would be more effective in reaching your target audience, you could create both and social test them to see which one gets more engagement.

You can also test different content formats within the same social test. For example, if you’re testing through Facebook ads, you could create two versions of the ad – one with a blog post link and one with an infographic – and see which one performs better. This way, you can learn which content formats are most effective with your target audience and use that information to inform your future social media strategy.

Types of Social Tests

A/B Testing

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a type of social test where you compare two different versions of content to see which one performs better. For example, let’s say you’re performing app store a/b testing to see which version of your app’s explainer video performs better – version A with a male voiceover or version B with a female voiceover.

To do this, you would create two versions of the video and post them on social media. You would then track the engagement (likes, comments, shares, etc.) of each video to see which one performed better. Once you have your results, you will then use that information to inform your future video content strategy.

Here are some more examples of some A/B tests you could run on social:

  • Posting time: Are you getting more engagement when you post in the morning or evening?
  • Image vs. video: Do images or videos perform better on your social channels?
  • Hashtags: Which hashtags should you be using to reach your target audience?
  • Length of content: Does longer or shorter content perform better on longer?

Multivariate Testing

Image Source

Multivariate testing is a type of social test where you test multiple versions of content at the same time. For example, let’s say you’re testing three different versions of content on Instagram – version A will be an Instagram story to generate brand awareness, version B will be an image post, and version C will be a video post.

To do this, you would create all three versions of the content and post them on Instagram at the same time. You would then track the engagement of each piece of content to see which one performed the best. Once you have your results, you can use that information to inform your future social media strategy.

Here are some more examples of multivariate tests you could run on social:

  • Images: Which type of image performs better- a product image, an infographic, or a meme?
  • Videos: Which type of video performs better- a live stream, a recorded video, or a GIF?
  • Copy: Which type of copy performs better- long-form copy, short-form copy, or emojis?
  • CTA: Which type of call-to-action (CTA) performs better- “Buy Now,” “Learn More,” or “Sign Up?”

How to Run a Test on Your Social Media Strategy

Let’s take a look at how you can run a test on your social media strategy. This can be done in five simple steps:

Choose Your Social Test

We’ve just run you through two of the most popular social tests – A/B testing and multivariate testing. So, which one should you choose? It all depends on your goals and what you’re trying to test. If you’re looking to test one variable at a time, then A/B testing is the way to go. However, if you’re looking to test multiple variables at the same time, then multivariate testing is the way to go.

Remember, you can also test more than one variable at a time with A/B testing; you would just need to run multiple tests. For example, you could test posting times in one A/B test and content types in another.

Determine Your Tests’ Goals

The next step is to determine your test goals. What are you trying to achieve with this social test? Do you want to increase engagement? Drive traffic to your website? Boost sales? Once you know your goals, you can develop your hypothesis.

Develop Your Hypothesis

Your hypothesis is what you think will happen due to your social test. For example, suppose you’re testing whether posting in the morning or evening gets more engagement. In that case, your hypothesis might be, “I think posting in the morning will get more engagement because people are more likely to be online at that time.”

Execute Your Test

Once you’ve developed your hypothesis, it’s time to execute your test. This is where you will actually run your A/B test or multivariate test. Remember to track the results of your test so you can analyze them later.

Analyze Your Results and Develop New Ideas

Once your test is complete, it’s time to analyze the results. What did you learn from your test? Did your hypothesis hold true? If not, what new ideas or next steps did you develop as a result of your test?

Testing is an important part of any social media strategy. You can learn what works best for your business and your audience by testing different aspects of your social media content. So don’t be afraid to experiment – social testing can help you take your social media strategy to the next level!

Where Can I Run a Social Test?

There are a number of different platforms you can use to track your social media tests. Here are a few of our favorites:

Facebook Ad Manager

Facebook’s Ad Manager is a great tool for running social tests. With Ad Manager, you can create and track different versions of your ads to see which ones perform the best.

Hootsuite Insights

Hootsuite’s Insights platform allows you to track your social media performance and run social tests. With Insights, you can track your tests’ results and develop new ideas for your social media strategy.

Sprout Social

Sprout’s social media platform includes a number of features for running social tests. With Sprout, you can track your test results and develop new ideas for your social media strategy.

Performance marketing software can also be used to track social media tests. With our software, you can understand what your customers want, when they want it, and deliver what they need with personalized automation.

The Takeaway

So there you have it—our complete guide to social testing. By following these steps, you can develop a results-oriented social media strategy that is based on data and experimentation and create more personalized marketing strategies. 

So what are you waiting for? Start social testing today! 

Author Bio

Emily Rollwitz is a Content Marketing Executive at Global App Testing, a remote and on-demand app testing company helping QA testing companies deliver high-quality software,  anywhere in the world. She has five years of experience as a marketer, spearheading lead generation campaigns and events that propel top-notch brand performance. Handling marketing of various brands, Emily has also developed a great pulse in creating fresh and engaging content. She’s written for great websites like Airdroid and Shift4Shop. You can find her on LinkedIn.