Call-to-action examples vary widely across the marketing verticals, but they’re always very deliberate, including on social media. That might run counter to your intuition: isn’t social media supposed to ephemeral, playful, and authentic?
That’s why in this post I want to help you learn to write CTAs the right way. These call-to-action examples will help leverage your social media platforms in a way that’s organic, seamless, and effective.
Before we get too deep in the weeds, it might be useful to take just a moment and define what, precisely, a call-to-action actually is.
To put it succinctly: a call-to-action is a prompt to get your followers to do something. Usually, calls-to-action are buttons, links, or clickable images.
As a persuasive technique, a call-to-action is usually deployed once your followers have been given some information, data, or emotional vibe.
Calls to action are often much less sophisticated and much more straightforward. That’s by design. Indeed, you probably recognize some common call-to-action examples:
You get the idea.
There’s never really such a thing as a bad call-to-action, but you can certainly (and inadvertently) write an ineffective call-to-action. Even a call-to-action that’s data-driven can fall flat. And that’s especially true on social media, where marketing and communication move so quickly that it’s easy for your call-to-action to be caught flat-footed or left behind.
There are a few specific steps you can take when writing a call-to-action for social media to ensure your message is sound. Broadly speaking, these call-to-action examples and best practices can be expanded well beyond Facebook, Instagram, or other social platforms to help you write effective calls-to-action in a variety of verticals and platforms.
The single most important thing you can do to improve your calls to action is to be crystal clear about what you’re asking for. That’s why, in general, “Click here” is discouraged as a call-to-action. (Many users no longer use a mouse capable of “clicking”, to name one reason why.)
Even though “click here” sounds specific, it’s actually rather muddy. What happens when I click?
It’s better, from a marketing and an engagement standpoint, to be clear about what you’re asking your followers to do. Here are some call-to-action examples that use more specific language:
“Learn more about our qualifications”
“Enter now to win a trip to New York!”
“Order today and receive a gift”
“Head over to our stories for more”
The more specific your language, the more effective your call-to-action will be.
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When you’re creating a call-to-action on social media, you need to hyper-aware of the short attention span your followers are usually going to exhibit. So you need your call-to-action to really emphasize the benefits of this particular interaction. How is reading your white paper or learning about your qualifications going to help your followers?
Your call-to-action needs to incorporate these benefits. Some examples might include:
These calls to action tend to be a little on the longer side, so that’s something to consider when composing a call-to-action for social media. But as you can see from these call-to-action examples, emphasizing the benefits in your call-to-action makes that call much more effective – especially if you can do so in a pithy and efficient way.
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Social media is a fast-moving medium. Users are either going to scroll by your post or engage, and they make that decision in a fraction of a second. That’s why it’s vital that you include a photo, image, or video with your call-to-action. This doesn’t have to be a custom image, of course – you can use appropriate stock photos if you need to.
For social media platforms such as Instagram (you can read more about taking good Instagram photos here), this probably goes without saying. But even on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or any other social media platform, an image that accompanies your call-to-action is absolutely vital. For example, you could:
— GoPro (@GoPro) November 17, 2018
This example uses a video, which is also effective, and you can easily see how an image would accomplish the same thing.
Using a photo or an image will force your followers to stop and actually look at what you’re saying – increasing the chances that your call-to-action will be effective.
If you’re writing a call-to-action for social media, it’s sensible to make your asks specific to that platform – at least some of the time. It’s true that every so often, your call-to-action will direct users to your website or towards some other interaction. But a healthy ratio of your calls to action should be specific to your social media platform.
For example, you might do something as simple as:
Because your call-to-action is on social media in the first place, it makes sense to leverage the tools that social media platforms provide. Sharing, liking, commenting – engagement of any kind–is the lifeblood of social media. These call-to-action examples can help you leverage your social media presence to improve engagement and conversions alike.
Sometimes, to really leverage what social media can do (and to avoid common mistakes), you’ll have to work in concert with your graphic and web design teams. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram will often allow business accounts to create custom call-to-action buttons, encouraging followers to like, shop, or follow.
Using custom design elements can help draw attention to those call-to-action-labeled buttons. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all give you plenty of space to work with (but it’s important to stay within those dimensions and use that space wisely). Tasking your designer to develop custom graphics solutions can help ensure no one misses your call-to-action.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn all specialize in a different form of social media, and they tend to attract widely different audiences. The demographics on Instagram and Snapchat skew younger, but users tend to be older on Facebook and Twitter.
This means that it’s especially helpful to formulate customized calls to action for each social media platform. The unique engagement mechanisms on each platform only heightens the need to customize each call-to-action to its native social platform. For example:
You get the idea. These call-to-action examples are similar, but there are small changes made due to audience and platform. Always remember who your audience is and employ the appropriate marketing tactics to effectively persuade them.
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Obviously, you have a lot to keep track of when writing your calls to action. You might be tempted, then, to turn your call-to-action into a magnum opus in order to ensure you check all the boxes on a good call-to-action. However, that would be a mistake.
A good call-to-action must by necessity be short and to the point. You want to focus on being precise and concise (that rhymes on purpose – hopefully, it’ll be a bit easier to remember that way).
A call-to-action should get in, get the job done, and get out as quickly as possible.
The optimal length will depend on your overall marketing strategy. For example:
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— Mailchimp (@Mailchimp) November 16, 2018
These call-to-action examples highlight how even just a few word choices can change the flow of a call-to-action. In the arena of social media, you’re often counting characters, so keeping an eye on the length of your call-to-action is really quite important.
If you’re creating calls to action for social media, it is absolutely vital that you limit the scope of what you’re asking. In other words, you don’t want to overdo it. If you’re marketing the latest and greatest electric car, you’re probably not going to convince people to make a purchase over Twitter. Even getting them to sign up for a test drive can be a dicey proposition over social channels.
But you might be able to get someone to sign up for a newsletter. And even that simple act can get someone into your sales ecosystem, where you can continue to develop leads. Common calls to action on social media encourage people to:
These call-to-action examples tend to be extremely low stakes, but that’s because high stakes are really tough to do over Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
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Any call-to-action you write should be coordinated and consistent with your overall marketing goals. That’s true whether the call-to-action is a button on a homepage or coming at the end of a caption for an Instagram image. Your social media strategy needs to be aligned with your overall marketing strategy, especially when it comes to the formulation of calls to action.
That’s because a call-to-action is what leads a customer from one step to another, one interaction at a time. So it’s essential that you’re leading the customer in the right direction, setting each and every customer up for the next call-to-action until those customers reach the end of their sales cycles.
That’s why testing your calls to action can help you in the long run. For many marketing firms, the testing mechanism is what’s commonly referred to as A-B testing. For example, you run a social media campaign that focuses on call-to-action A and record the results. Next (or concurrently, depending on your strategy), you would run that same campaign over a similar duration with call-to-action B.
By comparing successes and failures among the calls-to-action, you can determine which direction is going to be most effectively deliver results that conform to your overall marketing goals. If you aren’t testing, you can’t be absolutely sure that you’ve optimized your calls to action for social media.
If you want to write an effective call-to-action for social media-or anywhere else, for that matter – you need to start with the action.
What, exactly, do you want your reader to do? Once you answer that, you can get cracking on the creation of amazing calls-to-action for social media.
Raelene Morey is the founder of Words By Birds, a digital writing agency that works with startups, SaaS, B2B, and WordPress businesses, turning your tech speak into words that convert. Formerly managing editor at WPMU DEV. Computer science grad turned newspaper journalist. When she's not taming browser tabs she likes brunching and bushwalking.
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