Running social media marketing can be hard when you have no idea where to begin. Social media is vast and the abundance of social media marketing options leaves social media managers undecided on which is the best strategy to follow. Fortunately, there exists a way to identify top performing social media strategies. You can identify top performing strategies with maximum ROI by running social media marketing experiments.
So, how do you run a social media marketing experiment?
Here’s a clean, 6-step process.
1. Set goals
2. Prioritize goals
3. Design the experiment
4. Test ideas
5. Analyze tests & glean insights
6. Automate top-performing ideas
Before we proceed into details on every step, here are a few characteristics of social media that you should consider before designing social media marketing experiments.
1. On social media, there are controllable (content quality, target audience and impact) and uncontrollable factors (organic reach).
2. Every experiment can have different outcomes based on different inputs. For instance, the experiment when boosted by say employee advocacy will show different results when not.
The 6-step process to setting-up, running and measuring a social media marketing experiment
1. Set goals
Social media needn’t be only a marketing tool. Social media can be used to impact every aspect of a business, from its inception to revenue-generation and customer support. In 2018, social media managers are aware of this fact, which is why it’s important to question ourselves how much value we’re getting from the time and resources spent on social media.
Goal-setting is one way to answer this question. In fact, goal-setting may also have a direct impact on an individual’s performance and happiness, according to a Harvard study.
The following is a list of social media goals that you can consider when planning your social media marketing experiments.
13 social media goals you could consider chasing
1. Product/company branding
2. Increasing brand awareness
3. Driving social media traffic
4. Lead generation
5. Revenue generation
6. Increasing brand engagement
7. Building communities
8. Providing customer support
9. Multiplying press mentions
10. Growing co-marketing opportunities
11. Acquiring brand advocates
12. Collecting UGC, reviews and testimonials
13. Launching products
Broad or narrow, these goals provide context to your social media marketing activities and help you measure them accurately. It’s best to create experiments that have no more than one goal, so your efforts are focused and easier to measure.
Consider, for instance, that you have created two social media posts – Post A and Post B. Post A has performed better in terms of social media engagement but Post B has performed better in terms of social media traffic. Which post would you consider a success?
Having goals in place prevents this kind of ambiguity.
2. Prioritize goals
Every business has multiple goals that can be reached via social media marketing. But every business also has to deal with limited resources and budgets. That’s where priorities become important. Priorities help you decide where and what to focus your resources on.
There are tons of systems that you can use to effectively prioritize goals. The trick is prioritizing what will give you most important results. How do you identify those goals?
At DrumUp, we use the Cost-Targeting-Control-Effort system. Here’s how it works.
1. List all of your goals on sheets.
2. Score every goal on Cost-Targeting-Control-Effort on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 implying most and 1 implying least.
3. Calculate an average rounded off score that you can refer to for decision-making.
4. Work on the easiest goals first and make your way up to the harder goals, or prioritize but whatever is most necessary.
This process may eat-up your time in the beginning, but once you get used to it, using this process will save you tons of invaluable time.
3. Design the experiment
Once you have prioritized goals, it’s time to design an experiment. Doing this is simple. You need a bucket of ideas and hypotheses on how those ideas will help you achieve your goal. When connecting the idea-hypothesis-outcome, ask yourself what you’ll do and how it’ll lead to achieving your goal and why that will be the outcome.
For instance, if the goal is to increase brand awareness, you can accomplish this outcome in so many different ways. You can create a social media contest or you can run social media ads. It’s best to conceptualize the experiment in detail at this stage so you can set expectations and predict the outcome accordingly.
Here are different ways in which you can get inspiration to conceptualize experiments –
1. Follow top social media marketers and read their blogs for ideas
2. Identify prevailing social media trends and follow them
3. Conduct competitive research and see what industry leaders are doing
Once you have a concrete idea, decide on what the task will entail and how you’ll measure the results with respect to the goal. If website traffic or conversions are the goal, you’ll need to create custom URLs using URL builders to ensure conversion-tracking.
4. Test the experiment
Now you’re ready to test your social media experiments. When testing social media experiments, you need to bear some basics in mind.
1. Never test more than one thing at a time. If you want to be sure of what’s moving the needle for a particular goal, it’s critical to ensure that you don’t have conflicting readings. For instance, if you want to increase traffic to your website, any social media posts that is clickable can contribute to the effort. That’s why it’s essential to know which posts/theme of posts you want to focus on.
2. Refer to the right metrics to measure posts. Typically, goals decide which metrics you should monitor. For instance, if you want to increase brand awareness on social media you would choose impressions as the key metric instead of choosing clicks or something that’s less representative.
3. Run each experiment for a sufficient period of time. If the experiment is minor, you can run it for shorter time intervals such as a week or two weeks. If the experiment is major, for instance, if it involves a re-haul of your entire social media marketing strategy, then it’s best to run it at least for a month or two months.
4. Use A/B testing on every set of posts. The content you create for your social media experiment should ideally be A/B tested for the best results. That’s because you won’t know the full potential of your social media posts unless they are in their best forms. For A/B testing, you need to be able to track each version of a post, so you’ll need custom URLs.
5. Ensure that the experiments are all closed-loop. You don’t need any loose ends or blind spots in an experiment. If you have any, try and fill them in. For instance, if you want to measure the effect of your content on revenue, you need to be able to see the actual purchase and that might need some development effort on your website. Don’t shy away from collaborating with developers when needed.
5. Analyze tests & glean insights
After an experiment is run, you’ll need to analyze results and learn from what you’ve done. While you’ll want to know if the experiment worked, you’ll also want to know to what extent it worked and what exactly made it work. It’s also useful to know what didn’t work and why, so you can apply those learnings to future social media campaigns.
Social media experiment tracking is an exact science, with numbers. When running experiments it’s important to process the statistical significance of the results. You’ll want to ensure that the results aren’t because of chance factors and don’t include false positives and exclude false negatives.
One way to ensure that your data is clean and that your experiments are actually worth investing in, you could repeat the experiment a couple of times and see if the results stay consistent. You can also repeat experiments by changing factors and understanding how you can future amplify results.
6. Automate top-performing ideas
Once you have consistent results stemming from particular experiments, you can make the most of those ideas by automating them. For instance, if you know that your blog posts bring a ton of traffic to your website and convert new users, you can set-up your blog on an RSS feed and set it on an auto-posting schedule.
When automating top-performing ideas, you’ll need the help of automation tools. Even if you can’t automate entire processes, you can definitely automate large portions of the process. Once the process is automated, you can save a ton of time and be more productive.
Here are different ways in which you can automate your social media marketing –
1. Save social media posts of different campaigns in different libraries on a social media management tool such as DrumUp, from where you can set-up an extensive publishing schedule.
2. Add RSS feeds of your blog and top news agencies or blogs and set them up on an automatic publishing schedule, so you never have to publish a post manually.
3. Follow influencers on Twitter and add them to Twitter lists, from where you can follow their work and retweet/engage with posts when required.
73 social media marketing experiments to try today
- Use Twitter’s advanced search to find potential clients
- Try social media ads and native content promotion
- Try employee advocacy for social media
- Activate social media follow and social media share plugins on your webpages
- Test different positions for social media plugins (consider mobile placement)
- Publish content when your followers are online and active
- Publish content when your followers and offline and inactive
- Publish content during lunch break, on the weekends, during commute times and on public holidays
- Publish content late nights and early mornings
- Publish more frequently
- Publish less frequently
- Craft short and punchy post content
- Craft long and descriptive post content
- Use popular hashtags
- Use less popular or similar to popular hashtags
- Include testimonials or social proof in social media posts
- Add emojis to social posts
- Create the same post for all social media platforms (cross-post)
- Create custom posts for each social media platform
- Post questions and quizzes
- Run contests
- Conduct QnAs and AMAs
- Create interview sessions on text and video
- Publish and curate infographics
- Share GIFs and short videos
— Andrew and Pete 🙊🙈 (@AndrewAndPete) March 18, 2017
- Post behind the scenes content
- Work with disappearing content (statuses and stories)
- Run promotional campaigns (discount campaigns)
- Host live giveaways clubbed with planned rant sessions
- Create Twitter Moments and Instagram Stories
- Share SlideShares via social media posts
- Post audio clippings and podcasts
- Livestream events
- Experiments with music on videos and podcasts
- Leverage social media analytics dashboards to gain insights
- Create short and long social media videos
- Use photographs of your team, clients and partners
- Conduct events to collect UGC
- Co-host live events
- Run co-marketing activities on social media
- Try Twitter chats
- Join and work within LinkedIn and Facebook groups
- Build a presence in LinkedIn communities
- Get C-suite executives involved on social media
- Run campaigns for brand advocacy on social media
- Pin important posts
- Comment on active social media posts and conversations
- Use Facebook for remarketing
- Build a Facebook Messenger bot
- Use LinkedIn inMail for marketing
- Follow top customers’ Life Events
- Add CTAs to all links and content you share
- Add Click-to-tweets within blog posts
- Experiment with graphic design to pull attention to parts of posts
- Use social media tools to find the right times to share content
- Work with evergreen content to get more social media referrals
- A/B test types of social media content
- Play around with colors and typography
- Test images with people vs objects
- Optimize landing pages to convert social media referrals
- Build an email list with gated social media contests
- Use humorous social media content
- Create a band persona/character to endear customers
- Connect with customers on social media and activate them to be advocates
- Experiment with tone
- Try different types of copy
- Target different groups of people
- Work with different time zones
There are infinite possibilities in social media marketing if you consider all the variables in content, publishing and advertising. To develop the best formula for your brand, you need to run social media experiments. Remember social media trends are always changing and it’s always a good idea to test new ideas every year or so. Keep an eye on your social media analytics and be open to making changes when required, this mindset will help you make the most of your social media efforts.