Running Social Media Experiments — A Startup Founders Guide
Updated: Mar 25
The number of businesses using social media for marketing has gone through the roof and it’s only set to increase further in the future. That means the way people interact with businesses on social media is changing too.
The boom of content on social media platforms means organic reach is nowhere near as effective as is used to be, but it also means that meaningful engagement and the quality of content are on the rise. So as a company that’s just starting out in 2020, how do you approach your social media strategy?
The best way? Well, it’s the scientific way — running focused social media experiments. To get you started, here’s our guide to running social media experiments that’ll help you build engagement and brand awareness.
🥅 Set (The Right) Goals
What is it that you’re hoping to get through this social media campaign? Every business will have its unique goals, but you’re probably going for one of the following:
Engagement (Likes, follows, shares, etc.)ReachFollowersTraffic to your websiteConversionsSales
Now, before you jump straight to conversions and sales, you may want to consider some current trends. It used to be quite simple to drive traffic and sales just by promoting your products through an organic post.
But, even with paid advertising, you’re looking at a different playing field today. Consumers have become savvy and don’t fall for direct product ads anymore. Advertisers have to be smarter and give the consumer what they want, a brand that they can relate to, that sells a product they need. Therefore, starting with just a conversion ad won’t cut it in 2020. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t promote your products; but, maybe, that you should adjust your approach.
🧠 Brainstorm Experiments (Steal Ideas)
Alright, you shouldn’t outright copy your competitors when it comes to your experiments, but definitely do not shy away from taking notes from the most successful accounts, posts and promotions in your business field. Facebook gives you “Pages to Watch” in your analytics account, for this exact purpose.
Not to mention, there’s a massive — nay, a plethora — of blog posts out there just listing ideas for social media experiments — I mean, just like this one 😂. So if you’re unsure where to start, just get inspired by others and go. If it doesn’t work, try and try again. Rinse and repeat.
🧪 Run Preliminary Tests (Don’t Worry, It’s Mostly Waiting)
You’ve got an idea, now it’s time to put it to test. You should start by identifying your KPI (the same as your goal from step 1) to know exactly what behavior you’re trying to drive from your audience, then create and share your experiment. Make sure you’re only running one experiment at-a-time to keep track of your variables.
For example, let’s say you’re experimenting to see if adding a video to your post will increase engagement (which it will, by the way). To test this, you’ll want to avoid simultaneously throwing in a giveaway at the end of your text, because this would add a factor that could affect your audience’s behavior and would only obscure the test results. Run each test for at least a three days, or until you feel that there is sufficient data for analysis. It might take some time, but your patience will pay off with lots of important insight.
📈 Study Results and Repeat
At the end of your experiment you’ll want to analyze and interpret the data for your experiment. Notice what worked and what didn’t; then refine the first, and replace the latter. For any experiment to be considered a success, it has to be repeatable. With that in mind, if your experiment went well, you should be able to replicate the results over and over.
Each time, you’ll want to refine and hone your strategy according to your audience’s response.
If your experiment didn’t work, don’t get discouraged — you can learn more from the “failures.”
Pivot your original hypothesis, or throw it out the window and test a new one until you find one that works.
Now that you know the steps to take, it’s time to put them to use. So get out there and start experimenting! Keep focused on your original goal and circle back through these steps anytime you want to test and optimize your social media strategy.
Remember, these are just the guidelines, and the whole point of experimenting is trying something new. So don’t be afraid to let your imagination loose and think outside of the “box” for fresh ideas. After all, who’s to say you won’t invent a brand new marketing tactic that shifts the whole digital world?