A/B Test Your Social Media Management Messaging

A/B Test Your Social Media Management Messaging
By Chris Abraham

I do understand the frustration that many business men and women have when it comes to the money, time, and energy they spend on social media marketing versus the resources they spend on online advertising and email marketing. I get it.

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If You Did Your Email Marketing Like You Do Social, You’d Ditch Email Too

Businesses takes email marketing very seriously because it’s a serious business. Even simple email platforms like MailChimp and AWeber offer serious ways to test the impact of every newsletter, missive, and offer you send to your subscribers, including deliverability.

When I read What is the ideal length of everything online? by Susanne Colwyn, it occurred to me that social media marketing needs to steal shameless from both search engine marketing and from email marketing. We need to become scientific about how we adapt our titling, messaging, post timing, hashtagging, and linking to what works.

Use a Dedicated B2B Social Media Marketing Platform

When I manage the social media marketing for my clients, I use the tools they use. When I manage my own and my company’s social media properties on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter, I use Oktopost. It’s not meant for brand promotion, it’s meant for brand conversion. I want to see how what I do influences my sales channel, my leads. I want to test out different messaging. Maybe a group of posts that are just the content’s title, a group of posts with a personalized message, a group with hashtags, a group with uploaded images, plus a link as opposed to just copy, and a link with the image sourced from the post site. I could try Titles That Use All Initial Caps Like We Do in the US or I could could try Titles that are in sentence case like the Brits.

Make Your Social Media Business Hours Rather Than Happy Hour

What we in social media need to do, more than anything, is become more scientific and serious than “spray and pray,” starting with “throwing pasta against the wall and see what sticks” and then becoming more and more experimental and experiential as we move forward.

When top advertisers and marketers put together their Google textual ads, native advertising content, link-baiting content, and corporate email newsletters, these communications professionals slave over every word, every punctuation mark, every link, and every graphic. They know that in Google ads, all you have is 25 characters for the title, 35 characters for the URL, and a total of 70 characters for the description, broken into two 35-character lines. That’s it. Every single one of those 130 characters are slaved over, and often A/B tested, allowing a sample of the entire list to receive either version A of the message (potentially with different colors, a separate title, or maybe just plain text) or version B, which might be a little shorter, have photos of kittens, or use a breezier tone.

But Don’t Forget Happy Hour

One of the cool things that Oktopost has is that you can hook into Feedly as well as their content-sourcing so that you don’t have to work too hard to populate entertaining content that is both germane and salient to what you do professionally. If you look at this random smattering of suggested articles that they recently provided me, it’s the luck of the draw, but there are quite a few that I would happily share if I don’t have anything queued up in my mind or just haven’t had time to visit Feedly or Flipbook myself to read my industry news, content that I always share generously. The rule of thumb has always been the 80/20 rule: make sure your social media content is perceived as being 80% give and 20% take. It’s not an exact science. All of your case studies are probably more give than take, even if they are self-serving and do link to your own corporate website instead of to some cool post on the Smart Insights Blog. It’s all a balance: test, try, experiment, and then see what works and throw out the rest.

What I Use When I Am Doing My Own Social Media

While I have yet to see an integrated A/B tester in any social media platform, Oktopost does make it easy to create, maintain, edit, and tweak what they call Message Assets, but I call evergreen content. What I would use the Message Assets section for is the very carefully-hewn promotional tweets and Facebook / LinkedIn / Google+ posts that tell the friends and followers of both my accounts and my Gerris corporate accounts about my capabilities, services, promotions, case studies, blog posts, clients, who I am, and why I am the right person to do your online reputation management, social media marketing, content marketing, and search engine marketing.

Remember To Promote Your Business via Social Media

We like to think that people follow our corporate social media profiles because we’re entertaining. Well, maybe that’s the case when it comes to my personal profiles, but the only reasons someone would want to follow or Like my company, Gerris, are: they’re my friends, they’re my former or current clients, they’re Gerris-curious, they’re competitors, or they’re prospects. None of those folks have hooked up with me as a news service. Don’t be shy, you’re allowed to share your wins, your new clients, your awards, your experience, and surely your products and services on your own corporate profiles.

Spent Tomorrow Building Your Cache of Evergreen Business Content

Collecting all of those links and writing good Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ specific posts is time-consuming and requires poring over all of your online properties and collecting them all into one spot. Wouldn’t it be great if you only needed to do that once? And then, after that, just put it onto something close to autopilot?

I can keep this list of a hundred evergreen posts and links and change them, update them, reuse them, edit them, spruce them up, and intersperse them into much more entertaining and timely content such as what I find and share online, what I am blogging, what my partners are doing, and when my next webinar or training session is (and how you can attend and benefit). And, it’s not hard to get it all going, either, as Oktopost offers you a quick and easy way to drag and drop a CSV file filled with handy guides so that you can collect as many potential posts that you want using Excel or Google Sheets, export as a CSV file and then just drag it in there.

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Start Today

What I do is just go to my site and collect every link to every content, service, contact, case study, client, about us, blog post, and product pages, including the direct link and either the exact title of the page or the description, and then I make sure there is at least one interesting, illustrative, photo or graphic on each of the pages I want to turn into the pages I promote via my social media profiles. I do this for two reasons: to make it pretty when I share it and to make it pretty for when anyone else shares it too. If I think my own content is cool on my own boring corporate site, maybe someone else will too.

Then I copy the one entry into three or four, realizing that this is the only time to do it right: one for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Then I take the extra time to customize each and every share for each and every platform so it’s optimized for that site: hashtags on Twitter and maybe Google+, longer-form content on Facebook and Google+, and whatever witchcraft one needs to do for LinkedIn (any ideas?) Be sure you take the extra time and energy to customize each of those for each platform. If you’re going to do it right, right now, front-load the work, take the extra time because people hate it when folks just spam across all of their social media platforms with their Twitter post, hashtags and @reference and all.

Measure Twice, Tweet Once

You can, and will, make all sorts of mistakes and cut-corners when you’re sharing everyone else’s blogs, posts, articles, and content, over your accounts, but don’t make the same mistake when it comes to getting people back on over to your site.

And, if you’re into using social as a way of driving people into the email subscription list for your weekly newsletter and sales funnel, then be sure to make it as easy and compelling as possible to decide to click from being simply a casual Facebook Liker or Twitter Follower into committing more by self-subscribing to your newsletter or even picking up the phone and making a call, or popping you an email.

The sky is the limit. Social media is the first step. Don’t let your frustration get you down. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

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Chris Abraham

Principal Consultant at Gerri Corp.
Chris Abraham is a leading expert in digital, including online reputation management (ORM), Internet privacy, social media marketing and digital PR with a focus on blogger outreach, blogger engagement and Internet crisis response.
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