Yesterday I was interviewed by Polina Opelbaum with PR Newswire about the use of calls-to-action in social media. The interview, which also includes comments from other industry professionals, appears here on the website ProfNet Connect. Seeing my comments in the Q&A article reminded me how much my own blog has become a classic case of the cobbler’s children having no shoes. I’ve been busy writing for clients and other media while my own neglected blog gathers virtual dust. So with that said, in this long overdue post I’d like to expand on the comments included in the ProfNet Connect article and offer you a few more of my thoughts on using calls-to-action in social media.
Are you overlooking this critical element in your digital marketing strategy?
Although it should not be a part of every social media post, a call-to-action is critical for those Facebook posts, tweets, etc., that are designed to get a response from your audience. The call-to-action very simply tells your audience what to do next as a result of the information or visual content that you’ve shared. If you’ve gotten their attention and they want to know more, it tells them what to do to get more information about your brand (e.g., visit your website or landing page). If you are offering a specific product or service in your communication, it may direct them to email, call or complete an online form.
Calls-to-action are not new. They are often used in sales letters, brochures, ads and other traditional marketing vehicles. In social media posts, calls-to-action have the advantage of being able to drive the audience to engage with you in real time. Facebook and Google+ may offer the most flexibility in terms of the length of your written content and the types of visual content you can include. If your call-to-action is short and to the point, Twitter can be a good option. You see this a lot when a company asks its follower to retweet a message to encourage the viral sharing of its content. On YouTube, the call-to-action often appears at the end of a video similar to how it might look at the end of a TV commercial.
An example from Twitter:
— LeaPplay (@LeaPplay) November 18, 2013
Many times brands use social media to gather sales leads, so they will use the call-to-action to drive prospects to a landing page where they can get free advice, download an ebook or whitepaper, or perhaps register for a giveaway. It allows the marketer to capture email addresses and other contact information for its use in future marketing efforts. Other calls-to-action are simply intended to create awareness by driving traffic to the brand’s website or encouraging users to share content that is useful or entertaining.
I’ve seen calls-to-action as simple as a sign in a sandwich shop that read, “Like us on Facebook and get a free cookie.” The payoff for the business and the consumer is instant.
Calls-to-action have to be explicit in telling the audience what to do next and how to do it. Including a link to your website or landing page is helpful because you can take them straight to the source of more information and encourage them to engage with you directly. In some cases it helps to not only use a call-to-action, but specify a time frame in which the reader/viewer needs to respond to take advantage of your offer. So basically, give them a deadline or emphasize the immediacy (e.g., call today or register by Friday). You should avoid calls-to-action that are overly complicated. If it’s not concise and easy to understand, it won’t work.