Creating calls to action is ingrained into the DNA of any copywriter worth their salt – but there’s often a disconnect between social media and sales. Social media is about building relationships, starting a conversation and engaging with your audience – but at the end of the day, you need that audience to do something that leads to a sale.
First, a word about selling on social media.
Social media and ROI are two terms that have garnered hundreds and thousands of words – from blog posts to case studies to intense debates. Over the years there’s been a creation of two basic camps of social media usage – the hard sell and the no sell.
On one side of the spectrum, there are the companies that jump into social media and expect an instant uptick in sales. They see the effort, time and money that goes into social media marketing and want to see measurable sales results. They figure if they aren’t promoting products or services they are wasting time.
On the other side, there are the no sell advocates. Some people seem to believe that asking for something directly from followers will cue a record screech and you’ll be banned forever.
There is a happy medium! While it is true that social media doesn’t have the same direct response sales weight as a targeted email marketing message, you can strike a balance between asking followers to “buy now!” all of the time and ignoring the fact that you’re marketing for a business.
Without this happy medium you’re either driving your audience away with constant promotions or you’re not leveraging the trust and authority that you’ve built up.
You need to balance your calls to action with quality sharing (from other sources), honest outreach and consistent community participation. And these are just fancy terms for being a real person on social media. But, I can hear you say, “I’m tweeting for my company!” I’ve got a wake up call for you – even if you’re marketing as a brand identity, you can be the type of brand that people want to talk to.
Unless you have a good foundation with your audience, your social media calls to action are going to fall flat.
With all that being said, how do you create social media calls to action that work for your business objectives?
1. Get Clear on Your Goals
Start by selecting the action that you’d like your audience to take – and work on getting them to take that action consistently on social media. You can select anything from visiting your site and making a purchase to tweeting, sharing or commenting. There are dozens of options – Heidi Cohen lists 33 different steps you can ask your followers to take, including direct sales calls to action.
2. Use the Right Words
Fortunately, Dan Zarella has done the heavy lifting in this department. His social media calls to action study revealed a few key findings about the power of words in social media calls to action: He analyzed millions of tweets, all the posts on the top 10,000 most liked Facebook pages and 50,000 blog posts to understand what prompts people to take action.
Here’s a short recap of the findings:
- Asking please goes a long way – please retweet, please RT and please help were among the highest performers on Twitter.
- Just 10% of posts without a direct ask for a retweet were retweeted.
- Direct asks for likes, comments and shares improved performance – the likelihood that a Facebook post would be liked, commented on or shared improved with the use of the specific term.
The biggest lesson from this study? Use the terms that are native to the platform you’re on. The biggest results on all platforms were for platform specific terms (like, retweet, etc). Understand the platform that you’re on and craft calls to action that speak their language.
3. Use Eye Catching Images
This is more difficult on Twitter, but if you’re marketing on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn, you need to understand the power of images. Your social media contacts are scanning the stream to find something that looks interesting. They’ll never see your call to action if they skip right over your post. Take time to carefully select images for your posts and updates that act like stop signs during the scan.
4. Trust Your Own Results
There’s compelling evidence for what works and what doesn’t in calls to action – but once you get started, trust your own results. Use analytics to track your calls to action and perfect your approach after you’ve tested a few different options.
How do calls to action play into your social media strategy?