Ahh, we have to try this, what a cool way to test different types of posts!
Split testing compares two similar but different versions of something (e.g., a Facebook post or ad, landing page design, etc.). When each version is published, you track its performance and determine which one provides the best results related to your goals. You keep the one that’s working.
Split Test Facebook Page Posts
Here are the steps you need to follow to split test your Facebook Page posts.
1. Post With Purpose
What do you want your post to do? What results are you looking for? The answers to those questions determine what and how you share content with your current and potential Facebook audiences.
Most, if not all, of your goals are going to rely on getting people to click your links and share your posts. Audiences respond best when you inspire, unite, amaze, advise or give (e.g., discounts or coupons). Use those tactics to get more clicks and shares.
A word of advice: Any status update that links back to your website or blog must reinforce the promise you made on Facebook.
While Upworthy-style headlines and status updates are all the rage these days, one of the criticisms of that style is that the content linked to the eye-catching and click-worthy headlines doesn’t always deliver on the promise.
2. Create Two Versions of Posts
To split test your Facebook posts, write a pair of updates you can test against one another. The key is to change only one or two elements so you have a good idea of what’s motivating any increases in engagement.
In the example below, Post Planner used the same article link but changed the post comment. The first version included a question.
The second version used a statement with a strong word (beware) to evoke emotion and curiosity. A small change in your text may make a big difference in engagement.
A few ideas for your split test are posting an update with a photo vs. text only; picture A vs. picture B, both with the same text; a picture vs. video post; call to action A vs. call to action B, both with the same photo.
3. Use Trackable Links
In order to track your two posts you’ll have to add something to the end of each URL so you can tell them apart in your report. If you’re fairly savvy with Google Analytics, you can use UTM tracking parameters to track engagement differences within your Analytics dashboard.
An easier way is to create a customized Bit.ly URL for each post you want to compare. For example, if the URL Bit.ly creates for you is bit.ly/123456, you’d add “ab1″ to the end so it becomes bit.ly/123456/ab1. Then yound so “ab2″ to another version so it becomes bit.ly/123456/ab2.
Below, ShortStack tested whether long or short posts resulted in more interaction with our audience. We tracked each update with a customized URL.
In the second version of the update, we used the same image, but posed a short question and used a different custom link.
4. Compare Post Engagement Results
To find out how each post did, paste the corresponding Bit.ly URL in your browser’s address bar and add a + sign to it. This will tell you how many times the link was clicked on.
If the first post did better, make it visible again and hide the second one. If the second one did better, leave it up!
Our Bit.ly report showed that after 15 minutes, our posts (question vs. statement) performed similarly.
You don’t have to split test every status update obviously, but if you’re trying to accomplish specific goals via your Facebook posts—sales or otherwise—it’s a relatively easy way to tell which kinds of updates your fans respond to best.