Social media best practices

Facebook best practices you can use from A/B testing

Have you ever wondered about how to do A/B testing in Facebook, where you test a certain photo, share text or other element of the post to see which performs well?

This has been hard to do unless you pay for an expensive testing service, or you test one post and then hide it after a period of time. Recently GateHouse Media set up to test on Spark, an easy way to do A/B testing on Facebook.

The staff at the Star-News in Wilmington, NC volunteered to give A/B testing a try. How Spark works is it makes a mirror image of your Facebook audience demographics. To test, an ad is created in the dashboard and delivered with each of the variations delivered for a certain period of time. Then at the end of the test a winner is chosen based on likes, comments and shares.

What did Star-News learn and how does it apply to your page? Here are a few things to do regularly on your page:

  1. Use text overlay on photos. This is something that more and more news media sites are doing on their Facebook pages, and this test proves those results. The Star-News tried this with a preview story on holiday lights display. The engagement for photos with text overlay was far better than any other variation they tried:

StarNewsSparktextoverlayscreenshot

Other news media sites are also doing this on Facebook, including the Austin American-Statesman:

statesmantextoverlayscreenshot

2. Another common practice is to use a quote from a story in the share text. But what type of quote does well? The Star-News tested this for their story on the 9-11 anniversary. The Star-News found that a quote displaying a positive emotion did the best:

starnewssparkscreenshotquote

3. It can be a challenge sometimes to figure out what types of photos do well with links. Many newspapers follow the practice of faces as often as possible, but on social media they don’t always perform as well. The Star-News found this out with a story on holiday events, where an image of Christmas lights performed much better.

Below is the winning post:

starnewssparkscreenshotimagewinner

And here is the photo that had faces:

starnewssparkscreenshotimageloser

If you are looking to improve your social media engagement and click-throughs from Facebook, be sure to try these best practices, and let us know what you have learned.

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