You have probably heard the cliché, “You can drag a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” When it comes to social media, without calls to action (CTAs), your posts aren’t even dragging the horse to the water, much less helping it drink. If the horse is your social following, and the water is your website, consider the call to action to be the farmer or rancher leading your horse to the trough.
The power of CTAs lies first in their mere existence, but also in their specificity—which can give them the ability to provoke curiosity and ultimately attract clicks. If harnessed creatively and consistently by a social media manager, the right CTAs can increase social media engagement rates and attract users to your website from multiple social channels, supporting increased awareness of your brand, higher levels of traffic on your website and a healthy bottom line for your business.
Here are a few critical points to keep in mind that illustrate the importance and power of using CTAs:
Only about half of B2B social media posts contain calls to action, according to one analysis. Therefore, an easy way to set your B2B brand apart from hundreds of other brands is simply to use CTAs on social media. Employing simple appeals, such as “find out more” or “register here” can be the first step toward getting accustomed to including CTAs in all your posts.
Consider that 90% of social users’ time is spent “lurking,” meaning they are neither creating their own posts nor commenting on others. Most of the time, they are simply scrolling, exploring and clicking around. This is part of the reason CTAs can help boost social media engagement metrics so dramatically: they help capture mindlessly scrolling prospects. For example, adding CTAs to a Facebook page can increase click-through rate by 285%.
It makes sense that nudging social media followers to click on a link would result in more of them clicking on it. This presents an opportunity for brands to promote the pages on their website they are prioritizing at any given moment and drive more traffic to them via social media. For example, an organization aiming to increase newsletter subscribers can direct social followers to a landing page with a simple sign-up form. Using the CTA “sign up free now”, for example, you entice users to your website, urge them to subscribe and remind them that it will cost nothing.
Once you’ve discovered the significant impact CTAs can have, you can begin to improve them. The following steps can help you create more powerful CTAs:
Keeping all three of these key factors in mind will enhance the quality of your CTAs.
Audience – knowing your audience helps you decide which kind of CTA they may respond best to – for instance, if you are a construction company, your audience may be mostly contractors and heavy equipment enthusiasts. In this case, a customised call to action such as “step up your equipment game today” may speak more directly and effectively to the audience.
Goal – to tailor to a specific goal, think about how you can accomplish that goal via social media. For instance, if you’re trying to drive purchases, calls to action that directly ask users to “buy now” or “shop now” may be the best choice.
Platform – customizing CTAs by platform involves considering the types of followers each platform provides. LinkedIn users, with their business credentials, may appreciate a CTAs suggesting they download a whitepaper, while Twitter users prone to quickly scrolling may be more attracted to short, punchy CTAs. Additionally, using platform-specific hashtags in the post can help the call to action reach more people.
Words like “learn” and “read” work far better than no CTA at all. However, inserting more specific action verbs can help increase clicks. For example, prompting your followers to “explore” a new page can create a sense of wonder and curiosity that leads to a click. Calling on them to “browse” your selection of new products could help induce them into a longer stay. The more specific the verb in your call to action is, the more likely it is to attract the desired outcome.
Creating the sense that the audience needs to act soon introduces urgency into your posts. Using words like “now” and “today” helps, but phrases like “before this offer expires” or “before the submission deadline” are more specific and even better for tailored CTAs. These urgent CTAs work on social media, but keep in mind they can be implemented elsewhere as well – including at the end of a blog post, on a temporary website banner or the end of an e-newsletter.
Whether you run social media channels for a large public corporation or a smaller private organization, CTAs are a valuable tool at your disposal. Incorporating them into your posting schedules helps set you apart from many other brands, but tailoring and constantly improving your CTAs can help take their impact to the next level. In short, CTAs lead your followers from curiosity to knowledge, quenching their intellectual thirst. To truly engage prospects and help them progress through the sales funnel, creating and consistently using good CTAs is a crucial step for social media managers to take.
Do you want to improve your usage of CTAs? Contact us today to discuss a social media program for your business.
Thomas Jilk is a Senior Account Executive at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. He uses his journalism and marketing skills to tell compelling brand stories for clients.