How to Effectively A/B Test Your Social Media Content

How do you currently measure the success of your social posts?

A quick peruse of your analytics every now and then? A weekly or monthly report? Well, that’s all well and good…

But one seriously good way to learn what your audience enjoys is by running some A/B tests (otherwise known as split tests).

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing, in a marketing context, is a form of experiment where you change one variable of a marketing post or campaign at a time, then run it to determine which of the two works best.

It’s absolutely vital for an accurate A/B test to only change one element at a time. If you try to test more than one, you won’t have a proper idea of which change made the difference (if, indeed, there is a difference).

It's absolutely vital, for an accurate A/B test, to only change one element at a time. Click To Tweet

For example – You could post a blog post on Facebook with an image, caption and link preview text, and post it at the same time the following week with the same caption, link preview text – but add some hashtags to see if they impact engagement or reach.

Or, you could create a post with the same image, but change the caption.

It’s important to only change one element, otherwise, it would be hard for you to attribute precisely what it was that changed the result.

Why should you A/B test your content?

It’s vital to use data to back up your marketing strategy, across all disciplines. It’s very easy to make assumptions, but you’ll never truly know what’s hitting home until you start doing some analysis.

Even the most advanced social marketers should be implementing A/B tests as part of their strategy: you can never know too much about your audience, even if you’ve been working with them for years.

Social algorithms are always changing. Keep up to date with how those changes impact your social strategy by regularly A/B testing your content. Click To Tweet

Plus, social algorithms are always changing, often without warning. This is one of the best ways to stay ahead of the curve.

What can you A/B test?


Your post caption, or post text, can be a great place to start A/B testing.

The text is one of the key ingredients of your social posts, and it’s super easy to test. You can change up the length, headline format, emoji use, or tone of voice.

What’s more, SmarterQueue’s Variations feature allows you to create these when you’re creating posts within the Post Editor.

SmarterQueue Variations


Did you know that Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images?

It’s worth maximising efficiency by testing different imagery within your posts.

SmarterQueue Variations

Again, SmarterQueue’s Variations feature allows you to use different imagery when you’re scheduling your posts.


Once only a prominent feature of Twitter, hashtags are now important for use on most social channels. So it’s worth A/B testing different sets of hashtags against each other. You could experiment with:

  • How many hashtags garner the most engagement
  • Which hashtags perform best against others
  • Or whether they are necessary at all, by posting one Variation without any hashtags

Tip: SmarterQueue’s Snippets feature allows you to add groups of hashtags at the touch of a button! Here’s how to A/B test using Snippets.

Times to post

When is the elusive best time to reach your audience? We’ve written an in-depth guide on how to identify your best posting times here, but you can also create a couple of different Categories within your SmarterQueue Posting Plan. For example, your first Category could be for your own blog posts going out in the morning, the second could be for your own blog posts going out in the evening. Add the same posts to each Category and let it run for a few weeks, then compare the results to determine whether your audience is more receptive in mornings, or evenings.

A/B Testing Best Practices

Ensure you know what metric you want to test. Is it engagement, clicks, reach or something else? It’s totally up to you – but make sure you define this at the start of the experiment.

Make sure you use UTM parameters within your posts to effectively measure traffic generated by your social activity.

By default, SmarterQueue will add UTM parameters to your links. 

The social network type, Profile name, and Category name are added as Google Analytics UTM parameters to all links that you share.

So if you had Categories set up for A/B testing your posting times, you’ll be able to see the difference in traffic within Google Analytics. Here’s one we set up as a test between morning and evening:

Variation One

A/B test social media

Variation Two:

A/B test social media

…Don’t forget to measure your results!

A vital step in running this experiment is to monitor and track your results.

To review your A/B test results from Variations, you can view your Past Posts, then click on the menu icon for the post, and click ‘View Stats per Cycle’.

A/B test social media

Here’s a short video on how to A/B test using Variations with SmarterQueue:

Like what you see? Get a free two-week trial of SmarterQueue and see how it can help boost engagement, save you 8+ hours a week and ensure you never run of content again.

Suzie Ryan

Suzie is a Content Marketer for SmarterQueue based in London, UK. She loves helping brands and businesses find their voice through content and storytelling; and is particularly fond of the creative possibilities of social media as a platform. When she’s not writing, she’ll be found somewhere in North London, seeking out the bars that serve G&Ts in goblets. 🍸