How to Use Social Media to Test Ads Before Spending Money

When branding teams first started to understand that social media is valuable for reaching customers, many of them worked hard to create convincing, compelling posts. Over time, they learned the power of image-based posts to capture attention in crowded newsfeeds. They committed to monitoring and refining this strategy to get improved results with each campaign.

But like everything else on the internet, social media marketing is always evolving. The fact that organic reach for Facebook Pages was down 52% in 2016 makes that clear. If brands want to connect with Facebook’s many members, paid advertising is the way to go.

But those ads cost money. Instead of wasting their budgets on social media ads that may not convert, businesses can test their images organically and use only those that get a positive reaction. Here are a few ways to put your images through a trial before paying Facebook to display an ad.

Use an image-based platform

Facebook may be a mixture of text- and image-based posts, but sites like Instagram are exclusively photos. These sites are ideal for testing image popularity with customers, assuming you can build a somewhat similar customer base there. Pay close attention to brands like Starbucks, which find inventive ways to feature their products on social media.

Use polls

You don’t have to rely on likes and shares to determine an image’s success. You can actually ask customers what they think of your images and get usable feedback. If you want a more succinct response, you can even post a poll. In addition to gathering data that can inform your advertising strategy, this process will also engage customers, who will feel as though they’re an active part of your business moving forward.

Make it fun

If you want to truly find success with your image-based campaigns, a game could be a great way to encourage participation. Girls Who Code creates games and invites members to play using its social media accounts. Through this exercise, you can try out the approach for free, then take the contest to a paid ad if it works out well. Throughout the game, brands can monitor participation and determine which images are getting the most interaction from participants.

If your business plans to place a social media ad soon, it’s important to try images out before spending money. In addition to the tips above, remember to:

Know your target market. Each social platform has its own demographics, so it’s important to test with the same audience who will be seeing your paid ads.

Utilize A/B testing. This will help determine one image type’s effectiveness compared to another. Monitor results. Have analytics in place to gather complete information on how your images are performing.

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