Measuring Success: Split Tests and Social Media

The home page of Google Analytics. What are these numbers actually telling you about your business?

The home page of Google Analytics. What are these numbers actually telling you about your business?

In my last post on vanity metrics I asked, 

“So how do you measure if you’re creating a larger audience that can help you reach your goal?”

To put it bluntly: the key is to measure how many of your users are taking an action that directly leads to your making money. So how do you do that? 

Page views can’t tell you whether you’re attracting potential customers who become real, live customers. But one of the methods you can use to produce actionable metrics—metrics that indicate whether your audience is getting hooked on what you have to say—is the split-test. 

What is a split test?

Split-testing is also called A/B testing because you are testing two ways of doing something (way A and way B) on two halves of your audience—splitting your audience.

For example, you may present 50 percent of people who land on a particular page with a link that says “Click Here” and the other 50 percent with a link that says “Get It Now.” 

If a whole lot more people click on “Click Here,” you know that “Click Here” is the better word choice for your link on that page. 

Here’s a video that explains the idea, from Optimizely, a company that helps set up and run split-tests.

Why are split-tests hard to execute on social media? 

Because you cannot automatically segment your social media audience this way.

You can’t set it up so that half your followers see a post with one type of wording and half see it with another.  Your post will pop up to whomever Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest chooses to show them to. 

How to execute tests on social media anyway

You can still conduct very effective tests using your posts on social media. They may not be perfect split-tests, but they can provide enough data to help you decide whether saying something like “click here” works better for your audience than saying, “Get it now.” Here are some options: 

1. Use targeted audiences on Facebook. You can target geographically, by age, gender, and language on Facebook for free. Use this option if you want to see whether a certain message lands more effectively with women, as opposed to men, or with a certain age group. 

 2. Test using time of day and day of week. People often ask, “How often should I post to social media?” The only way you’ll know for sure is to run tests. When are the best times of days to post? Should you post more often on certain days and less on others?  

Get a detailed how-to guide on setting up split-tests that answer these questions here. Have you tested these methods? How have they worked for you? Let me know in the comments!


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