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Social media is always evolving and it’s crucial to stay on the cutting edge. You need to know what’s out there, but more importantly, you need to know what works and what doesn’t. Testing social media marketing isn’t always the easiest to figure out.

Luckily, social media is the perfect place for experimentation. One bad post won’t hurt you, but one good post could provide a window into an entire strategy. It’s a low-risk, high-reward place. We’re huge fans of Simply Measured here at Wax and we highly recommend you download their new eBook The Social Media Marketer’s Testing Guide: Quality vs. Quantity

In the meantime, here are some great tips to help you get started.

Listen to your audience as the main strategy for testing social media marketing

Technology exists to tell you what your followers are talking about. Simply Measured Listening is one tool that can help. We also like Reputology from the folks at Hootsuite. This data is valuable because it can be leveraged in a number of ways, from inserting your brand into discussions on relevant events to finding the right hashtag discussions. Listening to your audience can tell you the content they want to see and when they want to see it. This can also be quite helpful in finding influencers within your space.

Figuring out when to post is something every social media user thinks about—brand manager or not. If you have a high-school or college-aged Instagram user, they’re likely to tell you that “peak hours” for Instagram are on weekday evenings. Keep in mind that social interaction times are not times for social media. No one is scrolling through Facebook at the bar. If you’re marketing to a young crowd, think about what times they’re likely to be occupied with other activities, because your engagement will suffer if you post during those time frames.

Be mindful of who your audience is, and gather as much data as you can about the timing-engagement relationship. The analytic capacity of social media sites has improved drastically, so you should be able to get a good sense of what days and times tend to be the best for posting. The Simply Measured report also has some great statistics on this. For example, commute times are a great time for Twitter posts as users are 181% more likely to scroll their Twitter feed during a commute. Hopefully not while they’re driving, though.

Be sure to do a careful analysis of your past, current and planned content

Timing isn’t everything. The quality of your content is a much better predictor of what sort of engagement you’re going to get and you’ll discover that when you’re testing social media marketing tactics. Take a look at the posts that have driven the most conversation, traffic to your website, or other metrics you want to use as a barometer for success. The first step here is to figure out where you’re currently having the most success.

Once you know that information, you can make use of it in a few ways. You can gear your posts towards that type of content going forward. Or, if you feel like you’re lagging behind your competitors when it comes to, say, video content, you can invest more heavily in creating high-quality videos. Adapt your strategy constantly to see what’s working and where you need improvement.

Experiment and be creative with your social media marketing

According to the Simply Measured report, posts accompanied by pictures had their information retained 650% better than text-only posts. Infographics are great because they can be repurposed for every channel out there, and present valuable information in a very digestible format. Videos can be effective, but only if they’re short. User-generated content is also something to consider if your brand is consumer-focused.

Basically, you need to commit to testing here just like any other portion of your IMC campaign. Remember that continuous improvement is the key. Be a detective and really analyze your content. You’ll find that your metrics can and will improve if you commit to testing social media marketing on a frequent basis.