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Would you like to improve your Twitter marketing?
Are you testing to see what gives you the best results?
Traditionally, split testing is a practice that’s applied to individual pages on your website to compare page variations and ultimately determine conclusively which version results in the highest overall conversion rate.
However, implementing split tests on your website alone is short-sighted! In fact, you can harness the power of split testing to generate valuable information about your target audience and their overall engagement with your brand on social media websites.
To see how to do this, let’s go step by step through how to carry out a split test on Twitter.
Step #1 – Create Your Split Test Tweet
The first step in the split testing process is to craft the text of the tweeted message you’ll use.
As an example, suppose you want to determine when your Twitter followers are most active. While services like Tweriod will estimate popular times, narrowing down these ranges and confirming their effectiveness using split testing will help you determine when future tweets should be published to reach the biggest, most engaged audience.
In this specific instance, you’ll only need a single tweet, as the test variable in this case will be the different links used to track when followers are most likely to click through to your site.
In other cases where you’re testing the content of your individual tweets against each other, you’ll need to generate more than one split test tweet.
Obviously, you’ll want to include details that are more relevant to your company’s value proposition; this example is written to be intentionally generic.
In addition, be sure to leave space at the end of your split test tweet to include the test URLs we’ll create in the next step.
Step #2 – Use Bit.ly to Create Split Test Links
Bit.ly and similar URL shortening services allow you to turn long web addresses into shorter variations that fit more easily into character-limited social media updates.
However, they also give savvy users the ability to carry out social media split tests using URLs that vary based on your chosen test protocols.
Following the example above, we need to create two (or more) different Bit.ly links that will be deployed at different times of the day. Although all of the links will redirect to the same location, their individual click-through rates will be used to determine when the sample site’s social media followers are most active.
To do this, head over to Bit.ly and log into your account (or create one if you haven’t set one up yet). Once inside, paste your destination URL into the field in the upper right-hand corner of the page and click Enter. Doing so will pull up the following screen, which includes your unique shortened link.
Create as many unique Bit.ly links as times during the day you plan to test, with each individual Bit.ly URL corresponding to a specific timed test tweet.
For example, if you want to test the responsiveness of your audience at 10:00am, 4:00pm and 8:00pm, you’ll need to create three separate Bit.ly links, each with a different reference code and each pointing to the same page on your website.
As you do this, be sure to make a note indicating which Bit.ly URL you plan to use during each test period (in this example, the Bit.ly URL pictured above might be associated with the tweet that will be sent out at 10:00am), or consider customizing your Bit.ly URLs to include this information.
If you hover over the highlighted area, a link labeled Customize will appear. Within the screen, you can change the character string used in your link to better reflect your test variable (for example, bit.ly/tenamtest).
Step #3 – Deploy Competing Tweets
Step #4 – Analyze Your Results
As your tweets go live, you’ll be able to monitor the number of clicks each Bit.ly URL receives within the service’s Stats dashboard area. Match up the total clicks each tweet receives with the time it went live and you’ll have a rough estimate of when your followers are most engaged with your brand’s updates.
Step #5 – Expand Your Testing
Of course, keep in mind that a single test – carried out on a single day – won’t give you as much usable information as systematic, ongoing testing. As an example, consider that running the above experiment could produce completely different results on a Sunday than it would on a Friday.
A few of the different ways you can expand your testing protocols to generate more meaningful data include:
- Repeat tests across multiple days.
- Testing variables other than tweet times in your updates (for example, you could use this same method to test different benefit propositions, product promotions or other calls to action).
- Carry out tests on other social networks.
Split Testing on Other Social Media Websites
Now that you understand the basic mechanics of split testing on Twitter, you’ll probably be able to do it on other social media websites.
The possibilities truly are endless once you grasp the concept of social media update split testing. By taking the time to test your social profile updating assumptions – rather than relying on guesses or the advice of third-party experts – you’ll ensure that each new message you post to your social profiles results in the greatest possible impact on your company’s online performance.
What do you think? Have you done split testing? What results have you had? Please share your comments in the box below.
However, getting started with this new type of media can be intimidating for some business owners.
Take a look at the following five examples of ecommerce websites that are succeeding with social media for ideas on how to use social media effectively.
#1: Use Facebook Apps Strategically to Guide Users
As social media expert Amy Porterfield mentioned in her recent “How to Use Facebook Apps to Improve Fan Engagement,” article on Social Media Examiner:
Since page admins can no longer designate a default landing tab (also referred to as the “default welcome tab”), businesses need to get more creative and use custom apps to direct Facebook page visitors to take action.
Once Facebook visitors grant access to the app, they’re able to complete the quiz to find their ideal style matches and are then redirected to specific purchase pages on the ShoeDazzle website, encouraging purchase decisions and eliminating the “tire kicking” that can occur with social media visitors.
This Facebook app works well because it helps drive Facebook visitors directly to the products that will appeal to them most back on ShoeDazzle’s own website.
Tip: Social media sites often have lower barriers to engagement (that is, users are less concerned about being “sold to” than on traditional websites). Facebook apps with interactive features to help convert viewers to buyers can make a big difference in social media ROI.
#2: Use Playlists on YouTube
Specialty-goods retailer Vat19 has a wide-reaching social media presence, but where it really shines is on YouTube. Collectively, the company’s video channel has amassed more than 115 million views—no doubt resulting in significant traffic back to its ecommerce website.
Besides the high quality of the company’s video production and the regularity with which it publishes new content, one of the keys to Vat19′s success on YouTube can be attributed to its use of the often-overlooked Playlists feature.
YouTube playlists are a useful tactic to keep visitors on your own YouTube channel longer. Because YouTube playlists allow channel owners to select which videos will play sequentially (interrupting the YouTube Autoplay feature which may automatically launch videos from other brands’ channels), the company’s use of this tool enables it to present viewers with additional products they may be interested in and increase sales.
Tip: Create YouTube playlists within your business channel to control viewer movement through the site. This decreases the viewer loss that can occur when users navigate away to YouTube’s alternative recommended videos.
Here’s how to create a video playlist within YouTube: “How do I make a playlist?”
#3: Use the Right Conversational Style on Twitter
Reaching out to consumers via Twitter is a great fit for “geek chic” ecommerce retailer, ThinkGeek. Not only is its target audience extremely active on Twitter, ThinkGeek’s conversational style and immediate response times have earned the small-but-growing company more than 500,000 followers.
It’s clear ThinkGeek knows how to cultivate the right communication on Twitter for maximum social engagement. By developing its Twitter community, ThinkGeek increases brand loyalty, as well as the possibility that tweets regarding its products will be shared socially among followers and non-followers. Both of these benefits have the potential to increase sales substantially.
Tip: Use your audience’s language when engaging via social media. Social networking site users are extremely sensitive to “phony” interactions, so be sure the person handling your company’s social media profiles is able to use the appropriate tone and language when communicating with followers.
#4: Let Your Audience Share Ownership of Your Products
Plenty of ecommerce websites are integrating social sharing tools into their product listing pages, which is a great way to encourage interactions on these sites. But while this is a great first step (and too often is the only step that retailers take), what makes clothing retailer Free People stand out is the robust communities they’ve built on multiple social networking sites.
Free People allows customers to create their own clothing collections to share on popular social networking websites including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
Starting from the company’s main shopping page, consumers can hand-select items to form their own “look book” style collections, which can then be explored and voted on by other users. Customers can start from standard company collections or create their own unique sets to share on the Free People website and social networking profiles.
This helps to create a sense of ownership among visitors and is a great way to increase brand loyalty and social promotion.
Tip: To capture this effect for your own website, look for ways to go above and beyond simple social sharing tools by offering customers a way to “claim” your items as their own.
#5: Engage Your Audience with Social Media Integration
What’s most interesting about the Cree LED lighting company’s level of social media engagement is that home repair—and lighting design in particular—isn’t traditionally thought of as a socially oriented industry.
While it’s expected that niches like shoe and clothing shops translate easily to social networking applications (as these activities in real life are generally social experiences), getting customers to share their lighting purchases online isn’t quite as natural.
Cree LED lighting demonstrates how to bridge this gap in stellar fashion. They have completely integrated social media into their marketing strategy with a clear desire to encourage engagement on social media.
Cree’s social media profile is diverse and highly engaged, ranging from the traditional Facebook and Twitter presence to user “Tweetups” and social competitions that encourage users to submit their own lighting photos for the chance to win free products.
Tip: Even if your industry isn’t heavily represented on social networking websites, there are still plenty of opportunities for engagement! You may need to spread your net far and explore different types of social media in order to see what sticks. But when you commit to interact with customers in a variety of situations, you’ll increase your odds of finding your own industry’s sweet spot.
These are just a few ways online businesses are using social media.
What do you think? What other examples do you know of? How are other ecommerce companies using social media? Share your comments in the box below!