How to Write a Compelling CTA for Social Media

By Todd Clarke

Social

Want your fans, followers, and readers to do something?

Like, sign up for a free trial? Download a guide? Drive more traffic to a landing page? Call you?

A solid call-to-action (CTA) can do wonders to help with all that.

Read on for some tips and tricks to help your readers do the thing you want them to, and promptly.

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?

It’s a prompt to get your reader to do something.

Usually in the form of a button, clickable image, or link on a web page.

After stating your marketing case, it’s the visual item that allows the reader to take action. Moving them to the ‘next step’ in your sales funnel.

They most often appear at the end of a blog post, bottom of a web page, sprinkled throughout a site, or included in social media messages.

You see them all the time. So then…

Why learn to write effective CTAs?

To get more business.

Digitally speaking, more business means more clicks, more buys, more engagement.

CTAs are trackable. You can switch up a few words, colors, or placements to see how results vary.

And they will.

Switch your CTA color from black to orange and see what happens.

Because results are measurable, making small changes to CTAs will give you insights about your audience, and how they behave.

Also, when requesting your readers do something—share, reply, retweet, contact me, etc.—it gives your content purpose.

Now that you know the what and why of a CTA, let’s look at a bunch of hows.

13 tips for writing effective CTAs for social media

Poor converting CTAs are frustrating. You use them to promote your products and services, which you’ve spent a long time developing, right?

But don’t panic.

They’re easy to fix.

You just need some good advice, like below.

Then, it’s up to you to apply some digital-elbow-grease. Here ya go…

1. Just sell

Don’t be wimpy about asking for the order.

You don’t need to go all Anthony Robbins on your CTAs. Sure, gorilla marketing doesn’t fit you. But hey, you’re in business to sell.

Get past your inner “I-don’t-want-come-off-as-salesy” and ask viewers to take an intended and specific action.

They’re expecting it. Give them what they want.

2. Compel readers to take action

Because just sharing is not the purpose of your post, page, or email.

You want them to take action.

Like, buy, call, or click, right?

For example… Download my full-throttle guide. Click to join the revolt. Contact me to learn how you can go “ching-ching” for your business. Reserve your spot for our seminar. 401+ power words to consider.

3. Urgency matters, too

A rewrite from one of the items above…

Reserve your spot today for our seminar—before it fills up.

Limiting time usually entices users to respond more to CTAs.

‘Call us today’ works better than ‘Call us’. It implies urgency and immediacy.

Here’s one example, from Alex Beadon.

You know, for my business, I’m often booked out months in advance. The further out I’m booked, the more business I get.

People want to be part of the action.

4. Customize CTAs by platform

Because each one works a bit differently.

For Facebook Pages, business ads come by the dozen. With clickable and trackable CTA buttons.

Instagram also added their own CTA buttons at the end of their sponsored posts.

Twitter did a study on CTAs that work best for their platform. Then ranked them, and provided a pro tip for each.

5. Make the benefit obvious

By writing from the reader’s perspective.

Because readers only care what’s in it for them. Why should it be any other way?

Too often, copy in general states what you or your businesses does. No one cares. People only care about what they can get from you.

Same with CTAs.

For your CTAs, ask yourself, does this pass the “so what” test?

No? Then you’re probably not stating a clear and obvious benefit.

Hard to say “so what” to this one, don’t you think? Good use of a question, too. To make the reader lean in with interest.

6. Use images, to enhance the words

Because we humans process visuals (and numbers) nearly 60,000 times faster than we process words.

Or so they say.

Snarky-ness aside, it’s obvious that images command attention. Use them to do the same for your CTAs. So if you’re selling a product, show the product.

Makes sense, right?

7. Stick with your voice and vibe

Because everything you do is part of your brand.

Your website, your emails, your posts, your comments—all part of your company DNA.

Including your CTAs.

Stay consistent with your digital speak, to keep the right conversations going, with the right audience.

Bonus tip: Consider four adjectives that describe your brand tone. For my business, it’s ‘bold‘, ‘confident‘, ‘casual‘, ‘savvy‘. I keep these close to the cuff for everything I write. Can you tell?

8. Ditch the jargon

Because jargon is digital Vaseline.

It makes eyeballs slip and slide right off the page, on to someone else’s.

Don’t waste precious nanoseconds with terms that are easy to gloss over.

9. Do the heavy lifting for the reader

Because they surely won’t.

We the people have attention spans shorter than goldfish. About eight seconds.

How will you best use those precious moments to grab people’s attention?

For say, a caption above a form…

‘Complete this form’ or, ‘Sign up today’?

“What seems easiest for the reader?” A question worth asking.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. But, make it easy for your reader to think, “I got this.”

10. Be and stay trustworthy

…by considering the reader’s entire journey.

Clicking a CTA often leads users to a landing page.

Create the glue between the two. Make it clear for any next step in their journey.

You’re working hard to be a trusted brand. Don’t blow it by sending users to irrelevant, misleading landing pages.

11. Be a voice, not a whisper

Too many CTAs fit in, versus stand out.

What a waste.

All that copy, images, and other media begging for attention.

And then, a feeble CTA, buried in it all?

C’mon, don’t be that person.

Okay, maybe a little loud on that one. But you get the idea.

Give your CTAs some visual weight—whether a button, link, image, or pop-up. Make sure it’s not crowded by all the other components of your ad.

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.

12. Mix it up

…by testing different CTAs.

CTAs are measurable. You can count the clicks. And should.

So you can tweak and see what works best for various CTAs.

If your content is getting more than 1,000 impressions, then give A/B testing a try. Change colors, change text, move the CTA around on the page and measure what works best. Keep refining and polishing.

Unbounce did. They changed a CTA from “start your free 30-day trial period” to “start my free 30-day trial period.” A simple adjustment to a single word resulted in 90 percent more clicks.

Impressive, no?

13. Make it personal

Using ‘you’ (and ‘yours’) makes readers feel like you care.

And more like a conversation, not a sales pitch.

More instances of ‘you’ than words like ‘we’, ‘our’, and ‘us’ helps readers focus on your message. Or ‘my,’ as in the Unbounce example above.

There’s other power words, too, that help people take your intended action: 64 of them right here.

5 CTAs in action

How about a few kick-butt examples before you leave? Inspiration for using your new CTA superpowers.

1. Salesforce

There’s that word again in the CTA, ‘my’. You can bet Salesforce has done loads of testing with their pages to learn what works best. And, they have two primary CTAs followed by a secondary one, ‘WATCH DEMO’, for users not quite ready yet.

2. Evernote

“Feel organized without the effort”: a message easy to understand. Immediately. Followed up by a short description and a strong and simple CTA. All this makes it easy for readers to ‘get it’ and how their life will improve.

3. Dropbox

Dropbox gets right to it. Just text and color. With a sign up form right there. There’s no doubt this is what Dropbox wants their site visitors to do first. And if they don’t want to, they can scroll down the page to see all their secondary CTAs. Persistence often pays.

4. Netflix

Netflix makes it easy for users to feel safe in trying out their service, in seconds. “Try it, you’ll like it.” And if not, no problem. Cancel as fast as you signed up. It doesn’t get much simpler than this, all with a few lines of text, and a big, bold CTA.

5. Prezi

Another minimalist design. With so much white space, the text and CTAs stand out. Another example of a simple message, this time, letting the user know they don’t have to be a designer to design a great looking presentation. Their primary CTA is to get people to see how Prezi works. Clicking on this CTA educates them. Then, they’ll see the ‘Try it for free CTA’, which shows them pricing information. A carefully crafted funnel.

What next?

Jump in and create, alter or redesign your CTA buttons, images and links.

Keep this post nearby to get more users to take more actions for your social posts and pages. As a rule of thumb, know that a good CTA answers two questions for the reader, “What’s next?” and “Why should I?”

Want more tips for creating compelling social media content? Sure you do.

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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