How to Improve Your Social Media Calls to Action

social media how toIs your audience responding to your social activities?

Have you integrated the right calls to action into your social media strategy?

A call to action is a way for you to entice your social media audience to focus their attention on the next action you want them to take.

Here are seven steps for crafting calls to action to get your social community to do what you’d like them to and transform your social media marketing to get the results you want.

#1: Determine What You Want Prospects to Do

Your call to action should encourage readers to engage with you further.

You’ll want to break the activity into smaller steps that make sense to your audience. You can lose prospects at each step of the process, so you want to make it very easy for them.

Make readers an offer they want. What will get prospects to commit now? Your offer will vary based on your business and where the prospect is in the sales process. You can consider offering white paper downloads, ebooks, ongoing emails, discount coupons and/or free consultations.

#2: Create a Great Hook

You’ll need to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” This is what your prospects want to know.

And your request must make sense to them. This means not asking prospects to purchase if they’re still in an information-gathering mode.

So you’ll want to assess the tradeoff prospects are willing to make. From a participants’ perspective, going to the next step means they have to consider if it’s worth their effort and social capital. Consider the 90%/9%/1% ratio of social media engagement.

social media participation rates

On social media platforms, participants tend to follow a 90% view, 9% share and 1% create.

Skip the promotion. People active on most social media platforms are focused on socializing and aren’t prepared to buy.

Among the exceptions are blogs, Tumblr and Pinterest. These social media venues encourage sales by providing valuable content that persuades, not merely promotes.

For example, below are three sample implied calls to action. King Arthur’s Flour offers recipes with enticing photos and explanations of baked goods with links to their product.

king arthur flour muffin

King Arthur’s Flour blog has several calls to action above the fold.

By contrast, Target uses Tumblr to show customers the fashion backstory and how to style their clothes. There’s no “Buy, Buy, Buy” in their content. They use social media sharing and notes to build customer excitement and engagement pre-purchase.

prabal gurung target

Target Style’s Tumblr for their Spring 2013 Collection featuring Prabal Gurung.

#3: Motivate Prospects to Act

Remember, you want to give your readers a reason to act.

Provide sense of urgency. Remember you’re not just competing against other retailers for the same item or other tradeoffs; your bigger opposition is customer inaction. It’s much easier for prospects to click to the next shiny item. Tests by Marketing Experiments proved that increasing the urgency of the call to action improved response.

Make people an offer they can’t refuse. Give them a one-time offer to encourage a response. Realize, however, they may only buy when you provide coupons going forward.

#4: Optimize Your Call to Action

Like other aspects of your content, formatting matters! Here are some points to consider.

  • Use a contextually relevant presentation. Your offer should make sense based on the social media platform where it appears. Use a consistent voice and language to represent your 360° brand.
  • Make your call to action stand out visually. Use color, typography and wording to enhance presentation of your call to action.
  • Qualify your offer. Make readers feel that opportunities are limited or time-sensitive. For example, “There are only 100 tickets left”.
  • Limit selection choices. Don’t give prospects too many options or you’ll suppress response because readers will put off acting because they need time to consider your offer.
  • Place calls to action in multiple locations on your pages. Take the “Don’t make me think” approach. Don’t assume using only one call to action will yield optimal results. For example, put social sharing buttons at the top and bottom of articles.
  • Keep calls to action above the fold. Make your call to action visible so your offer isn’t dependent on participants scrolling down. Similarly, have a persistent banner or other calls to action below the fold.
  • Put call-to-action options in order of importance. While you can present more than one call to action, make the hierarchy of importance clear to participants. The more important option should be bigger, shown first or be given more prominent positioning.
  • Include social sharing. Ask participants to share your offer with their social network by using social sharing buttons.

    ll bean million moment campaign

    L.L.Bean Million Moment Campaign uses social media calls to action on Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Foursquare, as well as at live events and on their blog.

#5: Maintain a Consistent Presentation on Landing Pages

This is one of the biggest reasons calls to action don’t work. Send prospects to the appropriate step in the purchase process.

Make sure you use the same wording and graphics. The goal is to show continuity. Don’t let the reader think that you’ve sent them to the wrong place or they’ll leave.

king arthur call to action

Use of implied call-to-action on King Arthur Flour recipe for Morning Glory Muffins.

king arthur links

King Arthur’s Flour links to Morning Glory Recipe have a consistent look and feel.

Tailor landing pages to increase results. HubSpot research found that using more landing pages yielded better results. This makes sense because it translates to more targeted offers.

hubspot research

HubSpot chart showing the increase in the number of landing pages results in increased leads.

#6: Test to Maximize Results

Every element of your call to action can be tested. When testing, only modify one factor at a time or you won’t know what caused the change. Among the attributes to test are:

  • Text. Check the text on buttons as well as information surrounding the call to action.
  • Color. Take a holistic view of color. Consider the text and button colors, the background and the use of white space around the call to action.
  • Graphics. Test the use of photographs and other images.
  • Size. Assess the size of the call to action relative to the rest of the content.
  • Placement. Consider where on the page the call to action appears.

#7: Measure Results

How can you measure your results? You want to track the impact of your social media calls to action back to your original objectives. Here are some metrics to track:

  • Impressions are the number of people exposed to the call to action.
  • Click-throughs are the number of people who take action.
  • Click-through rate is the percentage of people who checked out your offer out of the number of people who saw it.
  • Completions are the number of people who filled out your form and submitted it.
  • Completion rate is the percentage of people who complete your form out of the number of people who clicked through.

Are Your Social Media Calls to Action Working for You?

Social media calls to action are a necessary element of any social media marketing implementation. They nudge prospects, customers and the public to take action that’s trackable.

When a call to action is in alignment with your business goals, it can help you get measurable results that support your key marketing objectives.

What do you think? Have you used social media calls to action? If so, what were your results? If not, what has held you back from doing so? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is an actionable marketing expert. As president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, she increases profitability with innovative marketing programs. Heidi shares actionable marketing insights as HeidiCohen.com's chief content officer. Other posts by »




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