What exactly is A/B testing?

A/B testing is an essential tool all small business owners should use. Why? Because when you’re promoting your business on social media, there are a lot of options and decisions to make.

For example, should your caption feature a thought-provoking question or an eye-catching statistic? Should content be in a paragraph or a bulleted list? Maybe you should include a link to a video or an image?

Of course, you want posts that people will make people stop scrolling, read, react to, and share—but how do you know what will appeal to your target audience?

Enter A/B testing, a quick and easy way to explore what works for your brand on social media platforms. Below, we’ll break down what A/B testing is, why it improves social media marketing, and how you can use it to take your business’s social media strategy to the next level.

What is A/B Testing and Why Does It Work? 

A/B testing is a method that lets you explore the impact of variations in your social media marketing to understand better what is most effective for your brand.

To run an A/B test, you compare two versions of something in which just one variable is different. For example, you could create tweets A and B to have the same content, same hashtags, and are posted at the same time of day, but tweet A includes a video, tweet B includes an image.

You would then test both tweets on samples from the same audience and compare their performance. Depending on which post has more views, likes, comments, and shares, you’ll have a better idea of the variable your users are engaging with most.

A/B testing works because it cuts down on the noise—it’s much more challenging to look at two completely different posts and identify what specific variable made one perform better than the other. It’s also a straightforward test to run, so it’s easy to test again and again.

Bottom line? It’s a simple way to keep up to date with what works as your audience, and social media algorithms change.

What Can You A/B Test on Social Media? 

We mentioned several variables to use with A/B tests above, but here’s a more extensive list. Remember, you will only choose ONE variable to test at a time, keeping everything else the same in your strategy, so it’s clear which factor makes the difference in your audience’s engagement.

Post Variables

  • Caption type or length
  • Copy type, length, or tone of voice
  • Added elements—videos, photos, illustrations, hashtags, emojis, etc.
  • Call to action type or length
  • Time or day of post

Audience Variables

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location

Of course, you can tailor your A/B tests to the types of posts and audience most relevant to your business. You can also A/B test the format of ads before you roll out a campaign to get a sense of what layout may be most successful.

A/B testing of content can inform the type of communication you conduct with audiences through other channels. For example, if you determine through A/B testing that more people prefer posts written in a casual tone, you could replicate that style in your website copy or email exchanges.

Tools to Use for A/B Testing 

Here are a few tools available to help you get started with A/B testing:

A few final tips: before you start testing, you should have a good understanding of your brand’s goals, the audience you’re trying to reach, the current performance of your social media campaign, and some variables in mind that you believe play a vital role in the reception of your brand on social platforms. When running A/B tests, it’s also important to post with the same consistency as usual to minimize other variables that might play a role in your audience’s responses to your test posts.

Want some help rolling out A/B testing or coming up with a plan for your small business’s social media strategy overall? Get in touch with One Part Social today.