AB testing on Facebook

Written by our Head of Social in Cape Town, Madré Roothman.

AB testing on Facebook

Facebook’s latest algorithm update got me thinking about organic AB testing. Brand pages have been advised to opt for qualitative feedback in order to deliver the most relevant posts to users, instead of focussing solely on engagement or reach. AB testing, it would seem, is the best way to calculate the right metrics for the best post performance and improvement – here’s how.

The organic way

Define metrics to determine best post performance:

The number of metrics you can test are endless, so stick to a few. Metrics that I usually measure AB testing with are:

  • Emojis vs Non-emojis
  • Creative Design
  • Creative Colours
  • Creative Imagery
  • Creative Placement
  • Creative CTA
  • Creative branded vs Non-branded
  • No Creative
  • Copy algorithms
  • Long vs Short copy
  • On- and off peak posting times
  • Keywords
  • Website Clicks
  • CTR’s
  • Times of day posted
  • Days of the week posted
  • Post Types Carousel
  • Post Type Canvas
  • Post Type Static
  • Post Type Video
  • Post Type Gif
  • Post type Copy

Write two versions of the same post:

Split test different metrics as defined in Step 1. Change metrics for effective measurement. Here’s an example:

Sage One Facebook AB testing

Post 1 copy:


Want a FREE 30 day trail of Sage’s online accounting software?

H1: It’s perfect for startups

Copy: Sign up for your FREE trial today and invoice and quote while on the go. Get your FREE trial today.


Post 2 copy:


Use online accounting that’s simple, safe and secure.

H1: Sage Accounting Software

Copy: For startups, small-to-medium enterprises and business owners who enjoy online accounting that saves time. Sign up now for a 30 day FREE trial!


Post 3 copy:


Sage One Accounting offers the freedom to run your business anywhere.

H1: Online Accounting

Copy: Strength lies in a good foundation. We help lay the ground work for small businesses.


*Note: Creative stayed the same in all thee posts.

Build your URLs if using website links:

It’s important to build your own URLs in order to tell them apart when reporting. Use UTM parameters and the Google URL builder to generate custom campaign parameters. Here’s an example:

URL Builder

The other alternative is to implement conversion tracking through the Facebook pixel to track how the different elements of your AB testing is faring.

Implement AB testing:

Determine which of your posts will perform the worst and then post it first. Have the post run for a certain amount of time – like a day or a week – then hide the post. Don’t delete it, just hide it. Now, post your second post with the different metric and have it run for the same length of time. It’s important that your second post goes live at the same time of day the first post did.

Look at the data:

Compare your post results and see which post performed better.

Here are example results of posts run in Step 2 (implementation done by Senior Campaign Manager, Aimeé Schroeder):

  • ROI improved continually
  • Conversions relative to spend increased virtually throughout the campaign’s run.Facebook CPA vs CPC

The paid way

  1. Do Steps 1-3 as set out in The organic way.
  2. Go to Facebook power editor or Facebook Business Manager to set up ad sets/create your campaign.
  3. Determine your budget.
  4. Implement AB testing:
  • If testing creative, place multiple ads within one Ad Set.
  • If testing targeting, place the same ads within multiple Ad Sets (each with the different targeting you’re testing.)
  1. Run the campaigns and monitor data throughout to determine what’s working best.
  2. Optimise:

For tests focussed on creative, this would mean identifying which ads are performing best and adding variations of these ads while pausing the underperformers.

For tests around targeting, you would assess which Ad Set performed best (pause the low performers) and shift budget to the targeting sets providing the best return on investment.

Facebook blueprint

Facebook Blueprint

AB testing is a great way of driving the best results for clients and continually pushing performance. Testing a wide range of metrics will not only help you reach your brand page’s KPI’s, but it can also give you further audience insights. In the next few months I’ll be doing some testing on various clients, so be sure to check back in a bit for the results.



Twitter: @MadreRoothman


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