Among today’s top social media platforms, Twitter is unique. It has the defining characteristic of being limited in post length, along with a breakneck pace at which content is generated. This combination of short messages and fast consumption make it a perfect place to perform A/B testing that quickly produces actionable results.
While basic A/B testing has always been possible on Twitter, the new dashboard offers a huge boost in analytics and data capture. Given this new development, I’m going to show you how you can test a variety of factors with A/B testing on the Twitter platform.
What Can I Test on Twitter?
Let’s start by looking at your options for testing on Twitter. It’s easy to assume there’s not much to gain from posting short messages that disappear as quickly as they appeared, but this accelerated lifespan of posts gives us the opportunity to test a wide variety of factors:
- Specific wording, keywords, and message lengths
- Your overall tone (witty, sarcastic, positive, casual, etc.)
- The number of hashtags and their relevance to the content
- Comparing different images or videos when paired with tweets
- The days and times you send out tweets
All of these are excellent things to test with some clever strategies and use of the Twitter dashboard. This will result in new ways for your to generate leads on Twitter.
Getting Started With A/B Testing on Twitter (Using The New Dashboard)
Typically, A/B testing is done when you’re making a website and testing design elements, but the same principle can be applied to Twitter as a means of better understanding your audience and their preferences on this social media platform.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to testing on the Twitter platform that also incorporates the analytics features from the new dashboard.
Step One: Setup Your Twitter Dashboard
Once you’ve done that, you’ll be taken to a page where you’re asked to describe your business.
The next step in the process involves selecting the terms and keywords you want to monitor on Twitter as a whole. Here you could input anything related to your company or simply your company name in order to track any relevant mentions.
Once this is set up, you’ll be able to see all your mentions in one place without having to use a third-party app. This is great for tracking purposes and catching opportunities to engage with your audience.
Another great feature is the ability to schedule tweets within the dashboard, which further eliminates the need for third-party tools. We’ll cover the analytics portion later in this post, but for now, you should familiarize yourself with the dashboard as you prepare to start A/B testing.
Step Two: Construct Your Tweets
As with any good A/B test, you should focus on a specific factor, or a few specific factors, you’re looking to test. Keep everything else the same as a control so you can accurately observe the differences between the two tweets.
As an example, let’s say I’m promoting a new post on my blog about succeeding on today’s social media platforms. I want to test two different tweet lengths to see which one gets more engagement.
I’ll start by creating two tweets: one short, and one long:
Next, I’ll schedule each one at different days and times. I’ll choose different times to tweet so I can measure which one performs better and how the day/time affected that performance. This is a great first step, and it will provide a framework for what days and times work best for my audience.
It’s also worth noting that you can use a tool like Bitly to shorten the length of your URL. This is an excellent way to gain back more character counts in your tweets. Once we’ve finished sending out these tweets, it’s time to track their performance!
Step Three: Track Performance
When you enter the analytics portion of the Twitter dashboard, you may find yourself overwhelmed with all the new data. You can track a variety of factors ranging from 7 to 60-day intervals.
Here’s what you can see at a glance:
- Tweet performance
- Media tweets
- Follower growth
- Overall performance
- Profile visits
Within the “tweets” tab you can see how specific tweets performed. This is where you’ll find the information you need to judge your A/B testing. While the main dashboard shows how many likes, retweets, and replies it received, you can look at the engagement totals with a single tweet by going into the analytics of the dashboard.
You can export the data to a CSV to see the breakdown by engagement type. You'll also be able to see what interests your audience members, broken down my industry. This will give you valuable insight into the types of topics that will resonate most with them.
The detail doesn’t stop there. You can go deeper by looking at the demographic tab, which breaks down the location, income, and gender of your followers. All of this can be used to inform your A/B testing and provide valuable feedback on each of your efforts.
Step Four: Expand Your Efforts, Never Stop Testing
With A/B testing, your job isn’t finished after one test, or even ten. Intermittent testing only serves to give you incomplete data. You need to create a consistent testing schedule that’s ongoing to continuously tweak and alter your approach.
Here are some steps to take as you move forward with your testing:
- Repeat tests on different days/different times
- Incorporate additional variables like promotions and CTA tweets
- Move past Twitter and start testing on other networks
While Twitter is at the forefront of analytics with their new dashboard, that doesn't mean you can’t apply these same concepts to A/B testing on other platforms. Using this strategy will allow you to ensure that everything you post on social media resonates with your audience and increases engagement.
Remember, when you get your results, you should employ a method of observing and applying the data you’ve gathered. Here is a process inspired by the scientific method of testing:
- Start with a question
- Pose a hypothesis (changing the length of a tweet will alter its performance)
- Test your hypothesis with an experiment, in this case an A/B test
- Analyze the data you receive on each tweet and draw a conclusion
- Showcase your results to others on your team and move forward with new testing
This simple approach will allow you to create a routine for testing that moves smoothly from test-to-test.
A/B testing is a common practice for marketers and a major step in the optimization process. With Twitter’s new dashboard, you can bring this type of testing to social media to improve your engagement and performance with each new tweet.
How do you utilize A/B testing on social media? What experiences have you had with the new Twitter dashboard? Let us know in the comments!
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