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In an August 2013 CMO Survey, 66% of respondents indicated that their companies are putting more pressure on measuring social ROI. The challenge?

There isn’t a clear cut path for doing so. Social media, particularly Facebook, is often perceived as a ‘top of the funnel’ branding tool—a leap of faith rather than a direct revenue driver.fb_icon_325x325

While there isn’t a ‘silver bullet’ in quantifying social ROI, you can create a system for maximizing the impact of every moment your audience spends on Facebook. That’s where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes in.

Rigorous testing can help you measure the value of your Facebook presence and lead you to conclusions about where you should spend more or less of your social media investment. Here are five ideas to help you get started:

1. Test the Location of “Share” Buttons

Traffic acquisition is a key part of the CRO equation. After all, people need to find out about your company before they’ll do business with you. Social media is a valuable tool for building awareness—sharing activity results in an ‘amplification effect’ that encourages audiences to find out about your brand.

That’s why your social media strategy extends to your website—you need to incentivize audiences to share your content. But how?

One way to answer this question is to test the placement of your social media sharing buttons—should the Facebook button come first or last in the queue, for instance?

On article pages, try placing share buttons at the end of the article vs. the beginning vs. both places.

Mashable has a share header that shows Facebook and Twitter with an option to expand.

Mashable has a share header that shows Facebook and Twitter with an option to expand.

 

CNN uses a sticky share bar that scrolls with you down the page.

CNN uses a sticky share bar that scrolls with you down the page.

 

Sephora has share buttons on the product pages. Are people more likely to share something after they’ve decided to buy it or during decision making?

Sephora has share buttons on the product pages. Are people more likely to share something after they’ve decided to buy it or during decision making?

Another important element to test is which social networks should be promoted on your website, and in what order. Is Facebook a strong referrer for your website? Do you see more customer support questions on Twitter? Selectively choose which buttons to display on different pages (homepage, product pages, in emails.) You can also survey your audience to determine which social channels they’d like to use to engage with you.

2. Test Different Incentives to Encourage Sharing

Peer-to-peer recommendations are a crucial factor in encouraging sales online—especially among millennials, a customer segment that is growing in influence. Endorsements from your friends can be highly influential—which is why it’s important for brands to encourage audiences to share their products and content.

When thinking of incentives, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you ask people to share or write a recommendation, ask: “What’s in it for me?”

In email, Lyft offers a credit for referring friends to sign up on different social networks.

In email, Lyft offers a credit for referring friends to sign up on different social networks.

Warby Parker strongly urges sharing on its order confirmation pages.

Warby Parker strongly urges sharing on its order confirmation pages.

Try pre-populating a form with share text. People may need a nudge or inspiration to decide what to write. Track which offers generate the most shares. You can offer different referral codes for incentives and measure which codes are used most.

3.  Experiment with Landing Page Call to Actions (CTAs)

Traffic coming from different channels to your website may not all be responsive to the same call to action (CTA). Test the ‘ask’ you make from your Facebook-specific audience.

Buzzfeed, for instance, has found that it’s best to show different share buttons on articles based  on the type of content and how the visitor reached the site. This is a great test to run if a large percentage of your traffic comes from Facebook.

This experiment goes beyond ‘share’ buttons. You may find that audiences from Facebook are more likely to become newsletter subscribers than your web traffic from LinkedIn—who may be more interested in signing up for a free trial.

Testing is the first step to understanding what your audiences want.

4. Test CTAs in Facebook Updates

Language and length are two factors that go into crafting a call to action in a social post. Testing how you position an action is a way to gauge what your audience cares about.

Direct appeals in social media updates may not lead to conversions. Your audience might feel more inspired by informational posts.

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On Facebook, Target doesn’t directly tell people to buy the product, but uses other promotional language to engage people to click the link. Other CTAs include ‘learn more,’ ‘read more,’ or ‘buy it now.’ Experiment with these language variations to see which generates the highlight click-throughs and conversion events.

5. Experiment with Images

Using images in social posts has the power to significantly increase engagement. Sephora exemplifies this concept with its original, beauty-rich images. This tactic helps the brand promote its unique marketing — for instance, weekly ‘Fan Fridays’ that encourage users to like Sephora’s page to receive exclusive access to product samples, promo codes, and other prizes.

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This tactic has helped Sephora grow their Facebook page to over 5 million likes, which in turn will help spur increased traffic to their website and discovery of their brand offerings.

Instead of specific images, test out the impact of different image types, like images with people versus no people. Models versus just product. Test the impact different images have on different social networks. What drives shares and likes on Facebook may not perform as well on Pinterest.

Develop a method for categorizing the types of images you post and track how the different image categories impact your key metrics.

Your Thoughts

It’s your turn to chime in. What are your favorite CRO elements to test on Facebook? What experiments have surprised you and generated the most value for your team? Share your thoughts with your fellow readers in the comments section below.

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