If Anybody Ever Said You Can’t A/B Test Social Media…They’ve Never Heard of Employee Advocacy
As the pace of online marketing increased, marketers needed to quickly test different formats of marketing content. Instead of lengthy timelines and volatile test groups, marketers used A/B tests to swiftly try alternative approaches to content. Between images, headlines, designs and copy, it was suddenly possible to instantly to send out multiple versions of the same campaign, and find out which tactics produced the most conversions.
Traditional A/B testing is isolated. Customers only see one version, though you’ve sent out many. Emails, direct mail, even website design is all controllable. Customers will only see the content meant for their demographic. With Social media, on the other hand, is much harder to conduct A/B tests.
The ideal A/B test on social media finds the right combination of image, text, audience and timing. Sending out content with contrasting tones and a wild mix of these elements can confuse followers. It often turns away more followers than it converts. Needless to say, that is the opposite desired effect of running an A/B test.
However, there is an internal solution every organization can deploy to use traditional A/B test principles in the erratic social media landscape. An social media employee advocacy program is the perfect platform to test your various campaign options without fear of polarizing your customers. You can leverage your employee’s social followings and their social activity to discover what works best for your social campaigns. With diverse feeds and followers, you’ll be able to deduce the type of social content your employees and your company should be posting and you will gain deeper insights about the connection between your social content and the people reading it.
Testing Demographic Responses
One notable feature, and important consideration, of social media employee advocacy is the different groups of followers your employees have. While similar to your corporate following, it will be slightly more specific. For each product line, or geographic market you are selling to, chances are you have different followers. For instance, an IT services company will have many different fields of expertise, and followers of employees in service group A – Cyber Security are not the same as the followers of employees in service group B – Data Center Services.
This point of A/B testing comes down to the adage, “Know your audience.” If you want to test targeted content with thought leaders and executives, you can channel your CEO’s social following. If you want to launch a recruitment campaign as your company grows, it’s good to use all your employees accounts, but to start at the bottom. The younger, more socially active members of your company should draw in the type of talent you are seeking for your team.
Knowing exactly how one demographic from a specific employee’s account responded to a social campaign can help you decide what to alter when you take it to your brand account. You might have found the right ingredients the first time around or you might have discovered how to appeal to a broader audience.
Testing Emotional Responses
When using A/B tests, marketers often look at the emotional responses they can generate with certain visuals and copy. Using emotional marketing goes beyond basic marketing, like stating the fundamental specs of a product or details of a service. It underlines the value it brings to customers’lives. In B2B marketing, using emotion in content must come from a place of logic. If you appeal to a customer with an image or a headline that addresses a pain point, you might see a rise in clicks. The subsequent information then must provide rational answers to the emotional draw.
A/B testing is the opportune place to try the appeal to both pain points and desires. Employee advocacy can try both. Have one set of employees send out social content framed on how your company solves a problem, and have the other set post content about how your company achieves an end goal. For example, a cybersecurity company might post a link with some text and an image surrounding a company that has lost its data due to a breach and how the service fixes the aftermath. The alternative is to show how the company keeps data protected at all times, avoiding such a breach. Based on your employees’ results, you will know which campaign garners a larger emotional response for an increased effort down the line.
Testing Calls-to-Action and Landing Pages
Most marketers live and die by the commandment of including calls-to-action in everything they write, create and post. In fact, a TrackMaven study found that Facebook posts with the word “share” received nearly twice as many social activities than those that didn’t, with 4.02 average interactions per post vs. 2.19. This means asking followers to spread the word, and even using “please,” was an effective way to get likes, comments and shares.
A CTA on social media isn’t always an invitation to raise awareness, it’s often a direction to a landing page. Landing pages sourced from social media should be connected. In one example, a landing page that declared, “You’ve arrived,” from a social ad performed better than a straight-forward, sleek page.
A/B tests allow you to alter your landing pages and your CTA’s on both your website and your social content to find what works best when trying to gain conversions. An employee advocacy approach fast tracks these tests by spreading the test like wildfire. The more your employees share various versions of your creative CTAs and specific landing pages, the more data you will have to pull from in the results portion of the testing process.
Your employees are an invaluable resource in building your social presence, but also can be crucial in running A/B tests. Their distinctive social followings provide the ideal subsets of your audience, allowing you to test truly tailored content before taking a chance on your corporate account. Starting with your employee groups often feels like taking small, calculated steps toward your goal rather than one giant leap. You will also experience greater and much more specific insights from testing these groups. When the goal of A/B testing is to create quality content that gets right to the point of gaining conversions, you’ll be grateful for any avenue in collecting customer insight.
Cover image via @Marc Levin