As a part of a special series to help launch Duct Tape Selling we’ve asked the marketing experts at many of the valuable resources mentioned in the new book to teach us a thing or two about selling. Buffer is mentioned in chapter 5 – Build a Reputation. Enjoy the below post from Courtney Seiter from Buffer.
When it comes to social media marketing, you can spend all your time studying up on the best methods and practices and still not feel totally confident.
Are you posting at the right times? With the right content? Could your message be connecting better
A/B testing may sound technical, but really it’s a simple way to measure two versions of something to see which is more successful. At Buffer, we’ve found that the fast pace of Twitter makes it a perfect playground for A/B testing – most folks dip into the stream instead of parking there all day, so there’s minimal danger of bugging people with lots of repeat messages.
Here are 3 elements you can easily test on Twitter for a more stress-free social media strategy.
You can test this out with a bunch of different tools, but here’s how we do it with Buffer.
Take one piece of content and choose 3-4 different times to test it on the same day. (Tools like Tweriod or Followerwonk can give you some good starting points here.) You can pick any number of times to test, of course, but too many can be hard to keep track of and might risk overwhelming your followers.
To keep the data as consistent as possible, try posting simple tweets with a headline plus a link each time (interspersed each time with other types of posts that are perhaps more conversational in tone).
The following day, check your analytics and see how the tweets compare for clicks, favorites and retweets. From there, update your schedule to optimize for your metric of choice.
Repeat this process on a regular basis and keep testing – you might try focused tests on different days of the week, weekends and more. Especially as your content changes and you get more followers, it’s important to make sure you’re always tweeting at the most optimal times.
When Twitter tweaked its layout to show image previews right in the Twitter stream, we took it as an opportunity to test. Do expanded images make any difference in engagement and interaction with the content we share on Twitter?
The answer, for us, was a resounding yes.
To test this, we took 100 tweets and compared the difference in clicks, retweets, and favorites between tweets with images and tweets without. The image group was the clear winner, outperforming text tweets in every category:
- 18 percent more clicks
- 89 percent more favorites
- 150 percent more retweets
As a result of what we learned, we made visuals a much bigger focus in our content and Twitter posts. Today we typically have around a 70:30 ratio of image posts to text posts. We also work hard to create original visuals that sum up our written content in order to better resonate with our audience.
You don’t have to have such a large sample size to see if more images will make an impact on your social media strategy. Even tweeting the same message twice – once with a related image and once without, or with a few different related images each time you post – can provide powerful insights.
Writing a must-click message is often the ultimate goal of social media, and Twitter makes it really easy to perfect your messaging.
At Buffer, we test all our headlines in hopes we find one that really resonates with our audience. Our process looks like this:
For each post, we brainstorm five to 10 headlines and decide among the marketing team which ones we like best.
The winners from step one become our test candidates. We take three headline variations and post them as updates to our Buffer Twitter account. Ideally, the closer together we can post them (e.g., all in the morning or all in the afternoon), the more reliable data we can expect to receive.
We track the results in Buffer analytics to see which headline performed best. Then we re-write the post’s headline depending on the winner of the test.
We end up changing a good number of headlines on the blog. For example, our post on unique places to find and curate great content went from a superlative headline (“The Ultimate List of Unique Places to Find Unique Content to Share”) to a number headline (17 Unique Places to Find Great Content to Share) after testing.
Note the difference in retweets, favorites, mentions, and reach in the comparison below.
This one was a clear-cut case, since all metrics (clicks, favorites and retweets) were higher on the winning post. If yours get a little murkier, just remember to focus on the metric that matters most to you – if you’re really looking for a post to spread widely, for example, optimizing for retweets might be a better fit than focusing on clicks.
After doing this for a while, you may begin to notice specific words, phrases and patterns that resonate most with your audience. Use them liberally but keep testing, too – patterns can change as your audience grows with you.
Lots of smart social media experts have tons of great advice, but there’s no better data than your own. Once you get started testing, I bet you’ll find tons more elements you want to to test – hashtags, formatting, symbols – the list is endless. What do you think about social media testing? Let me know in the comments!
Courtney Seiter is the Head of Content Marketing at Buffer, the easiest way to share the great links, pictures and videos you find to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and more. Follow her on Twitter at @courtneyseiter.