How to Write Effective CTAs on Social Media: A Guide for Marketers

By Kaylynn Chong


Image via aitoff under CC0 1.0

Do you recall the last time you were compelled to sign up for a free one-month trial or download a guide? Remember that?

That was an effective call to action, or a CTA.

A good CTA can do wonders in the marketing world—it can drive more visitors to your content, generate sales, and increase leads and conversion rates.

Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals how to increase social media engagement with better audience research, sharper customer targeting, and Hootsuite’s easy-to-use social media software.

What is a CTA?

A CTA prompts the reader to do something—sign up for a subscription, download an e-book, attend an event, click for more information, and so on.

Where does a CTA live? A CTA is most commonly found at the end of blog posts or the bottom of a website page, but they can also be sprinkled throughout a site or included in social media messages.

It’s about providing your reader with an actionable task, most often appearing as a button, in-text link, or an image. To keep things simple, a CTA provides direction towards the next step and it should answer the question “Now what?”

Why you need to learn how to write effective CTAs

The greatest value a CTA can provide a business is, well, providing more business. In the digital realm, more business usually means more clicks, sales, and engagement. CTAs are especially useful because they are trackable—switching up a few words or the placement of your CTA can dramatically affect analytics.

For example, when SAP switched their CTAs to orange, this boosted their conversion rate by more than 32.5 percent. Because they’re measurable, when you play around and test CTAs, it also gives you insight into your audience and their behavior.

Even if you’re not looking to collect specific data, CTAs can help you reach an objective by simply asking your reader to do it. When you regularly request that your readers do something—share, reply, Retweet, contact me—it gives your content purpose.

Instead of just provoking warm fuzzy feelings about your last post, readers are urged to take action and engage with your brand further.

We’ve combed through research and sat down with Hootsuite’s resident CTA expert and senior copywriter—Ric Mazereeuw—for the low-down on the best practices for crafting an effective CTA for social media.

13 tips for writing effective CTAs for social media

CTAs have been around since the dawn of print marketing—but social hasn’t. And yet, the two go hand-in-hand. The way a CTA asks something of your audience, how it directly speaks to and engages your reader, and how it triggers a response from a user—there’s an inherent social aspect to it.

If you’re on any platform, you’ve probably seen one already, asking you to share, reply, Retweet, contact us, etc. These CTAs are simple but will tell you a lot about how engaged your audience is.

In fact, on Twitter Salesforce found that brands asking for Retweets (a simple social media CTA), received responses in droves. Those who asked for a ‘RT’ received 10 times more Retweets and those that spelled out the word ‘Retweet’ received 23 times more.

Asking your followers to share or reply is an excellent way to discover just how many people are listening, keeping tabs on your content, and interested in what you have to say. With the amount of content circling the interwebs, if you can get a customer to take the time to share some feedback, then you know they’re engaged.

1. Customize CTAs for each platform

Each platform works a little differently when it comes to CTAs. On Facebook Pages, where business ads come by the dozen, there are CTA buttons that are clickable and trackable. Instagram has followed suit by adding their own CTA buttons at the end of their sponsored posts as well. Twitter actually did a study on the most effective CTAs found on their platform, ranked them, and provided a pro tip for each.

2. Use actionable language

The whole point of call-to-action marketing is asking your reader to perform a distinct action. Using verbs such as discover, find, or explore can help draw visitors in with intrigue and nudge them towards the action you want them to take.

3. Have a clear value proposition

If you want the reader to take a certain action, you have to offer value. Most of us are driven to do things based on incentive—so be clear and concise about how the reader will benefit. A good CTA with a clear value proposition answers the question, “What’s in it for me?”

4. Be consistent with your tone

Use the same tone as the rest of your content. Not only does this shape the perception of your brand, but it’ll help visitors make sense of your CTA and thus, make them more likely to take the desired action.

5. Forget the jargon

When it comes to CTA writing, clarity is key. Avoid jargon and be wary of using humor—being witty in your CTA could come at the expense of being clear.

6. Lead into it

Leading into your CTA with supplementary copy allows room for context, Including additional copy can give you room to draw out exactly what you need your reader to do and what they will receive for doing so. Never forget what it’s all about: clarity.

7. Tap into human emotion

FOMO—the fear of missing out—can be incredibly powerful. In order to take advantage of FOMO in your CTAs, imply exclusivity, immediacy, or an impending expiration date. For example, ‘Call now’ is much more compelling than ‘Call anytime.’

8. Make it easy for the reader

Humans reportedly now have an attention span similar to that of a goldfish, so carefully crafting a CTA that grabs attention but also appears easy to do is important.

A great place to start is by asking yourself, “What sounds easiest?” Does it take more effort to ‘Fill out this form’ or ‘Sign up today’? No one correct answer actually exists, but you should make your readers think, “I can do that.”

9. Align CTA copy with landing page copy

When a reader clicks on a CTA, they’re typically taken to a landing page of some kind. It’s very important that the landing page be a clear next step in the reader’s journey. CTAs have to give the audience an idea of where they’re going to end up. If not, this can be a jarring experience for the reader. Mismatched or irrelevant landing page copy can make a reader question the trustworthiness of your brand.

10. Make it easy for your followers to get in touch

Contact us’ and similar phrases tell people you’re open to communicating with them. Transparency and open communication are huge selling points that are often overlooked by brands. Welcoming an open dialogue on social networks can humanize your brand and make your audience feel more comfortable responding to and interacting with you.

11. Test different CTAs

Remember what we said about CTAs being measurable? If your content is getting more than a thousand impressions each time, we suggest using A/B testing to determine which CTA best suits your marketing goals. Never stop tweaking, moving, and polishing up your CTA.

12. Be a call to action, not a whisper

Your CTA should stand out to the reader—clearly and visually. With a site full of copy, images, and other media that begs for their attention, avoid being meek with your statement. This is why most CTAs come in the form of a clickable link, button, image, or even pop-up window.

13. Use ‘you’ and ‘your’

Because you’re asking a visitor to trust you and do what you ask, it’d be nice to make them feel like you care. Using ‘you’ personalizes your CTA and adds a human touch to the interaction, giving the feel of having a conversation with your reader. For example, note the difference between “Grow your profits today” versus “Grow profits today.”

An effective CTA in action: Amazon Prime

In addition to the “Try Prime” button available at all times on the upper left corner of Amazon’s main website, the Amazon Prime page is chock-full of awesome CTA copy.

Image via Amazon.

Referring back to our list on how to write effective CTAs, Amazon’s copy had:

What next?

A well-crafted call to action can help drive people from consuming your content to actually consuming your product. It’s a big deal when it comes to taking your content to the next level.

But don’t sweat it—you’ve got this blog post to keep you on your toes. As a rule of thumb, always remember that a good CTA answers the twin questions of, “What’s next?” and “Why should I?”

For tips on how to create compelling content to go alongside your CTA, take a peek at the Hootsuite Blog. It’ll teach you everything you need to know about social.

See what I did there?

No matter what action you’re hoping to drive with your social media posts Hootsuite can help. Easily schedule and share your social CTAs across networks. Try it free today.

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