Have you ever wished you knew how many likes or shares a Facebook post would get before you pressed the blue button?
2014 Y Combinator-backed startup Naytev recently launched Spark, a tool that will allow media brands to test their best messages before posting them to their Facebook pages.
The practice, commonly known as “dark testing,” allows publications (like TechCrunch) to create multiple versions of a post and then test each as an unpublished page post. They then can publish the best post to their Facebook pages.
Patrick Costello, Naytev’s cofounder, said many brands are already using dark testing. Refinery 29 recently posted about how it uses dark testing, and Facebook recently published an example of how businesses can use unpublished posts to boost ticket sales.
But Costello said the other methods companies were using to dark test were bulky and could take social media teams 60 to 90 minutes to complete. Spark helps brands get the same results in less than five minutes by eliminating unnecessary steps for the publishers. The speedier process could be a game changer for smaller publications that do not have the same social media resources as large brands like Buzzfeed.
“People have invested a ton of time and resources into their Facebook page, and they really need to protect that investment,” Costello said. “When you post to Facebook you have to ensure you get that post right every time.”
Costello said publishers are concerned about the drop-off in the reach of Facebook posts. He says they can counter that decline with Spark.
The tool provides a significant service to media brands increasingly relying on social networks to reach their audience. Costello said even for brands diversifying their marketing, Facebook remains the most important channel for reaching readers.
“At the end of the day it all comes back to, ‘How do you stand out on Facebook?'” Costello said. “You’re all competing for the same eyeballs.”
Spark builds on Naytev’s mission to optimize content for social. Initially Naytev allowed writers to test multiple headlines and images for a social media post and then continued to share the post with whatever headline or image gained the most traction. The company also provides real-time analytics that show how content is faring.
Naytev initially partnered with brands like the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, but it could not disclose what platforms were using Spark. TechCrunch was an early partner of Naytev and has been using Spark. Spark is available now, and pricing depends on the size of the Facebook page’s audience.