Using social media to split test your content

Optimizing the effectiveness of your site’s content is one of the most important things you do as a WordPress user. Selecting images, designing calls to action, and writing post headlines are examples of the sort of important content decisions that have to be made.

As a seasoned WordPress pro you should be able to navigate these important decisions, perhaps not easily, but with aplomb. One of the best tools at your disposal for identifying the most effective choice when faced with an important decision is A/B testing.

If you ask the right questions, A/B testing will give you the right answers – it’s that simple. With that in mind, let’s find out exactly what A/B testing is, how to conduct a proper test, and how you can put that knowledge to use by conducting A/B tests with Twitter and Facebook.

The Fundamentals of A/B Testing Revealed

An A/B or split test is conducted by pitting two variations of the same page against each other for the purpose of determining which one performs better when presented to a random audience. You can apply this technique to optimize the effectiveness of any part of a post or page, including headlines, meta descriptions, featured images, and more.

However, there are a few guidelines you should adhere to so as to maximize the usefulness of your split tests:

  • Both options should be different enough to avoid confusion.
  • Your pool of testers must be selected randomly and must be large enough to return significant results. This can a challenge if you don’t have very many social media followers, but it’s still a good idea to get into the habit of running tests even if you can’t place complete faith in the results.
  • Aim to eliminate any factors that could skew your results.
  • Have a clear goal in mind before you begin testing. In other words, determine how you will pick a winner before you start.

Let’s run through a couple of examples of A/B testing using social media to see these guidelines in action.

1. Use Twitter to Test Your Titles and Meta Descriptions

Compose a new tweet

Earlier, we mentioned that A/B testing can be used to test headlines. Well, Twitter’s short character count makes it the perfect place to test headlines and other short pieces of content, such as meta descriptions.

When testing headlines, step one is to craft at least two compelling headlines for a single WordPress blog post. If you’re not sure what makes for a compelling headline, try using the Headline Analyzer to see if yours hit the mark.

Headline Analyzer

In addition to analyzing and scoring your headline, this tool gives you various tips to improve them, such as:

Once you’ve put together two winning headlines, it’s time to set your test in motion. You can do that by tweeting both of them – with some time in between submissions – to see which one garners more engagement in the form of retweets or likes.

If you want to automate this process, try scheduling your tweets in advance with tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer (both of which offer free plans). For maximum efficacy, schedule your posts during times when Twitter users are more active.

One of the upsides of this technique is that you don’t have to wait too long until the results are in due to the short shelf-life of tweets. Your only constraint will be to having to wait a while between tweets to avoid coming off as spammy.

When you’re ready, check which headline got the most engagement, and update your WordPress post accordingly. You can also optimize your post meta description by repeating the above steps.

2. Use Facebook to Test Your Featured Images

Now that you’ve found the perfect headline for your WordPress post, you need to determine which featured image works best with it – that’s where Facebook comes in.

Facebook is the perfect platform for this purpose due to its mixture of images and text content. Take advantage of this format by pairing two different images with the same title and description to see which image gets the most engagement.

After going through the testing process with Twitter, this should be pretty straightforward – but let’s take a minute to break down the steps:

  1. Select two images that are different enough to avoid confusion.
  2. Use the same headline and description with each image to eliminate any factors that could skew the results.
  3. Stagger your posts to avoid coming off as spam. Once more, consider using either Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule them in advance.
  4. Let the test run for a while to accrue enough data.
  5. Compare both posts to determine a winner using a predetermined goal – comments, likes, and shares would be valid metrics in this case.

Once the results are in, set your new featured image on the corresponding WordPress post, sit back, and enjoy the rewards of your testing!

Conclusion

A/B testing is one the most efficient ways to find out what works best for your WordPress site. Best of all, the two simple techniques we’ve covered enable you to engage your social media followers and conduct research at the same time – it’s a win-win situation.

Before you dive into the choppy waters of A/B testing, let’s walk through the fundamentals of a solid test once more:

  1. Make sure that the variations you are comparing are different enough to avoid confusion.
  2. Select your testers randomly.
  3. Run your test long enough that you attract a decent number of impressions.
  4. Eliminate any factors that could skew your results.
  5. Pick a specific goal to measure – be it likes, clicks, or shares, it’s up to you!

Do you have any questions relating to A/B testing with Facebook and Twitter, or perhaps some social media A/B testing tips of your own? Let us know in the comments section below!

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