You Need To Test Your Copy, Use This Strategy

Photo by  Nathan Dumlao

Photo by Nathan Dumlao


How can a social marketing plan mature the variation of copy for different audiences?

This is the question that I found myself pondering after I received feedback from two articles on (1) the idea of A/B testing and (2) content generation for a specific industry.  Both posts were introductions to the idea of a strategic social marketing plan.  However, as a plan matures, I find that without guidance, incipient social marketing managers can falter on how to word copy to appeal to a specific target audience.

In this post, I want to highlight an idea first posed to me by Randy Hlavac in Northwestern University's Social Media Marketing specialization MOOC on the Coursera platform:

Humans are driven by needs and emotions, so use Maslow's Hierarchy as a framework for finding the wants and needs of your target market.

The copy for A/B testing focuses on 4 needs: (1) safety, (2) belonging, (3) esteem/prestige, (4) self actualization.

Safety:  Appeal to a person's security needs and desires to not miss out on what is necessary.

Don't loose a #student base to private or charter #schools. Increase student populations through #social media

#Education is changing. Keep your student population with #contentmktg and #socialmktg

Belonging:  Appeal to a person's need and wants to belong to part of a group.

#Education #leaders everywhere are using #socialmktg to promote their #schools

#Education #strategists use #socialmktg for schools. See how to be successful

Esteem/Prestige:  Appeal to a person's self-esteem, confidence, sense of achievement, and respect of others.

#Socialmedia in #education is the newest trend. Learn more about it! #socialmktg

#Educators everywhere are using #socialmedia for #curriculum and #marketing See how! #thoughtleaders

Self Actualization: Appeal to a person's morality, creativity, problem-solving, acceptance of facts.

Position your #school for the #future. Become an influencer in #socialmedia #socialmktg #education

What's the new mantra for #education #leaders See this post on #socialmedia and #schools

When modifying copy for A/B Split testing, what you are promoting is the same, but you appeal to different needs of your target population.

This process of A/B testing is hugely beneficial to getting to know the identities of your most engaged population.

As discussed in my introductory post on A/B Testing, the variables of a post that can change are

  1. Image

  2. Copy

  3. Time

With the process described above, we are varying the copy.  Next, I will explain how to vary the time.

In the process described by Randy Hlavac in Northwestern University's Social Media Marketing specialization MOOC, the testing period should run 2 weeks, and should be posted 4 times a day over a 24-hour period.  When organizing the sequence of 8 variations of posts over 96 time slots, a posting schedule can be hugely beneficial.

Hlavac suggested organizing a color-coded posting schedule in a spreadsheet format before putting the posts in a social media management platform such at Hootsuite, Buffer, or Social Sprout.

As can be seen in this example of a posting schedule, each need is color coded.  Then, in the below chart the cells of the days and times are alternating which of the 4 color codes goes in which of the time slots.  If the first day alternates pink, green, yellow, blue;   then the next day will alternate blue, pink, green, yellow.  Since there are 2 examples of copy for each need, these are alternated among the days.  If one day the 1st example is used, the next day the 2nd example is used.

This alternating of color codes for A/B testing allows for the differing variations of copy to be spread out evenly in times over a period of 2 weeks.

Over this 2-week period of A/B testing, it is important to regularly monitor the success of your copy.  If you notice that one example of copy is regularly not getting engagement, try changing it up to see if you can make the post more engaging.

This post describes the process of varying the time and the copy.

For this particular process, I found that it is best to not post an image. 

Posting the same image would be repetitive and monotonous for your followers.  And given that visual messages are more attention grabbing than text, a repetitive or changed image may lead to our followers to not pay attention to the variations of your copy.

So, what do you do after you roll out your A/B testing?

Like in any good testing situation, you must monitor your results.  For this, another spreadsheet can be helpful. In this sample spreadsheet of results, the forms of engagement for Twitter are tracked for each of the 96 times slots of varying copy according to different needs.  From analysis of these results, at least 2 things can be deduced:

  1. What needs are the most important to my followers.

  2. What time a posting will get the most engagement.

I was interested to see that my Twitter followers overwhelmingly responded to the copy for esteem/prestige, and responded most to morning posts.  This information helps me formulate my copy and posting schedule going forward.