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The most effective call-to-action strategy in 2023

Call-to-actions, or CTA’s, are an essential best practice for generating engagement in today’s digital world, and every independent business must know how to use them effectively.   Call-to-actions remain an incredibly impactful tool for increasing engagement if you use them correctly. Every audience can be different, but overall, I’ve discovered a few things that keep call-to-actions simple, easy, and, most importantly, effective.  

What is a CTA?

First, let’s cover the basics. The acronym CTA stands for call-to-action. It’s a popular marketing term used to describe the act of asking/telling a customer, follower, or supporter to do something.  CTAs are a highly efficient tool for engaging with your business or brand’s target audience. We use them all the time, we see them all the time, and there is a good reason for that. Some of the most common examples you might recognize on social media include  “Comment below,” “Check out the link in bio,” and “Tag a friend.”   

Why do you need a CTA?

A user reading your post probably has their thumb hovering, ready to scroll away from your content before their eyes can even get to the last sentence of your caption. It’s vital to stop the scroll and snatch their attention with a snappy CTA.   

What should your CTA be?

Before deciding how to phrase your CTA, you need to determine your goal for the post. Do you want your followers to book your service? Do you want to increase the sales of a new product? Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Your goal will influence how you introduce a CTA to your followers.  Once your goal is determined, you can utilize different categories of CTA’s. The Wavy Social identifies four categories of CTAs: share, save, link and comment, along with statistics of their effectiveness on their own Instagram account.   


Prompting a user to share your post is an incredible way to expand your reach. A share can bring a lot more eyes to your content, which is great if your goal is to grow your audience. Here’s an example of a “share” CTA: “Send this to a friend who needs [something related to your business]!”    


Saving a post requires the click of one single button, but this simple action tells you a lot about whether or not your content resonates with your audience. If someone saves your post, that means it’s valuable enough to them to want to revisit it in the future.   


A CTA asking users to click a link can be tricky to pull off. Unlike the “save,” a user will have to stop what they are doing and navigate to a new page to complete the action you’ve asked of them. It’s a much bigger ask of your audience, but it can yield a high return (e.g. a sale, inquiry, or lead).   


If you want users to comment on your posts, you need to make it simple.  If your comment CTA is too broad, people may not have an immediate answer and therefore disengage. People don’t like to have to work too hard, remember? You need to make it worth their while to stop scrolling and comment on your post.  The goal of a comment CTA is to make it as easy as possible for your audience to take action. For example, you want them to describe their day in emojis, share their favorite productivity app, or vote on whether they use their phone more in the morning or at night. See? You probably have answers for each of these questions on the tip of your tongue.  Comments are a great way to encourage engagement, learn more about your audience, and indicate to the algorithm that your content is valuable and worth sharing with more people.   Next time you want a user to comment on your post, try giving them poll options to choose from instead of a long, open question. Choosing between queso or guacamole is much easier (and faster) for someone to answer than them having to tell an entire story in a comment.  Remember, it’s also important to explain why a user should act on your CTA. What do they get out of it? Is it more information, a chance to win a giveaway? Make sure they know what’s in it for them! You can do this by using language that appeals to their emotions or including enthusiastic punctuation. Now here’s the catch. You’ve got to cover all that ground in as few words as possible. Your CTA has to be quick, remember? The actual verbiage of your CTA should be as straightforward and short as you can get it.   

Where to include a CTA?

Your CTA needs to be loud and clear. It has to catch the reader’s attention and interest before they decide they’re going to see what’s going on on TikTok instead. I typically put my CTAs at the end of my captions, but there are certain situations where it might be better to use them as your opener or somewhere in the middle of your caption. Just be sure to bring it to focus somehow, like adding space above and below it to separate the CTA from the rest of your caption.  Pro Tip: Add a couple of emojis to your CTA or type in all caps to catch people’s attention.   

Utilizing your DMs with a compelling CTA strategy

Here’s a strategy that I use in my business to convert potential clients. If I want a senior to inquire about a photoshoot, instead of asking them to fill out my contact form, I will ask them to direct message me a word or phrase (like “SENIOR PICS”).  I will reply with a message full of my signature senior session details and experience information.  I have found this method to be much more inviting for a potential client. Not only is it easier on their end, but it is a nice way to add a personal touch that they may not have gotten from your contact form. Then, when it does come time to move things over to a CRM (customer-relationship-management), I can easily add the client to a HoneyBook project to make everything simple and efficient.  My goal with this method is to use social media to nurture a relationship with a potential client and then, when it’s time to communicate via email, I can add them to my CRM. This works for me and may work for your business depending on how you like to kick things off with your clients. 

How much is too much?

If someone asked you to do one or two things (like and comment), you’re probably a lot more likely to come through for them than if they asked you to like, comment, share, repost, and tag three friends. Prioritize the primary goal of using a CTA and save the rest for another post with a different objective.  These are the CTA strategy tips that have worked well for my business and I’m sure they’ll work for you too. The main objective is to simply start using CTAs more in your social media content. With time, integrating CTAs into your content will become a natural part of how you address your audience and you’ll figure out what works best for you and your brand. After all, all those followers on social media could be potential clients so it’s high time you start talking to them like they are!

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