Create a Powerful Call to Action from Start to Finish

Today we’re going to talk about the humble yet powerful call to action. That little line of text that gets people moving and acting on behalf of your cause!

A call to action (CTA) is the language you use to ask supporters to do something meaningful for your organization. Your call to action may be to RSVP for an event, sign a petition, thank someone, donate to a cause or volunteer.

Calls to action typically appear on your Facebook posts as well as your landing page.

We’ll take you through each step of the process, from picking the subject to following up with folks.

Ready? Let’s get started!

How Do I Pick the Subject of My Action?

Choosing the right Action for your audience and mission is very important. The secret?

More than anything else you do, put your audience first. Keep in mind that Facebook users engage with your content and your actions on Facebook because they want you and/or their friends to see them do so. Make sure your actions are things that your audience will want to be seen engaging with.

Watch and listen to your Facebook audience. Get to know them as a group and as individuals when possible. Think back to previously successful Actions you have run, and look for clues and patterns. Why did those Actions and posts succeed?

You might find that certain issues or Actions—like making a pledge, signing a letter or watching a video—do better than others. Past performance is a great predictor of how your audience will respond in the future.

You can quickly find the answers to these questions by checking your Facebook Insights to see what performs well in terms of likes, shares, clicks and comments—or use free tools like the ActionSprout Page Analyzer to get the data.

Once you understand your past successes, we recommend tracking which posts generated a lot of likes, comments and shares, as well as which ones generated a lot of action-taking.

Often these will be correlated; the more likes, comments and shares that happen, the more people Facebook will share it to, and thus the more chances people will have to take the action (but this is not always the case).

What Do I Need to Create a Call to Action?

Be as Clear as Possible
A good Action should be straightforward and easy to explain: “do x for y to happen”. Doing this requires that you only have one request in your call to action—anything more makes it too complicated. If you can’t keep it simple, it just might not be a good fit for a call to action.

Solvable
The problem you are asking your audience to help tackle needs to fixable at some level. This is often called the “theory of change” (why will doing x cause y?).Your audience is busy and in order for them to take this action, they need to believe it matters.

For example, if you are asking a supporter to share a video about your cause, you’ll want to be able to explain why sharing it helps.

Direct Actions at People, Places or Things
I know Facebook is the land of cat memes, but you don’t want to pick an overly superficial action. You are asking people for their time and there should be some substance to back it up.

Where possible, actions should have a clear “target”, whether that means making a lifestyle change, supporting a particular individual, or communicating with a decision-maker or institution.

In the case of a petition, your audience will want to know that the decision-maker being contacted has the power to support your cause.

Help Your Audience Look Good to Their Friends
Facebook is a public space. When your supporters take action on Facebook, they are thinking about how it will reflect on them. Your actions should be something they want to be seen doing.

Emotion is Important
The action you choose should connect with your audience on an emotional level. You should know why your supporters care about this issue—is it to protect children, stop a disease, defend animals? Will you be able to make this action resonate? Is there a sense of urgency or intensity?

How Do I Create the Landing Page?

A landing page is any web page that a visitor can arrive at or “land on”. That landing page can be a news article, a petition page, a blog post, or a page with an embedded video. This page is wherever they go to take the action.

It can be a new page in Facebook using an application like ActionSprout, or an off-site web page like YouTube, NationBuilder, Convio, Salsa, action page, or your organization’s website.

There Are Two Reasons to Create a Landing Page for the Action:

  1. Some actions can’t be completed in your post—such as providing critical data like an email and address; completing an activity in support of your cause beyond likes, shares and comments; reading an article; or donating to your organization.
  2. To give your supporters more information or an experience you can’t fit into a Facebook status.

Note: Facebook now allows videos to play right in people’s Facebook News Feeds, and typically generates more views when posted that way. However, if you want people to get more context for the video or take an action after watching, you can still link to an external page.

Lowering the Barrier to Action
In order to complete the action you put on the landing page, your supporters will first have to take the step to click the link on a Facebook post.

For all you know, they are doing it on their phones on the way to the bus in the rain. That’s why it’s key to make it as easy as possible to complete the action when they get there.

This is what’s called “lowering the barrier to action”. Make sure to have the least amount of steps possible and always try to cut out extra fields, check boxes, and unrelated text and images. Basically, make it easy to read and take the action.

This type of responsive design is more important now than ever, because many organizations are finding that the vast majority of their audiences on Facebook are now smartphone and tablet users, who are often less patient with extra steps and fields. If you can, make sure your landing page is mobile-optimized to fit well on smaller screens.

Examples of Landing Pages
Here are two examples of a landing page. The first is a Sierra Club web page using Convio:

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And the second is an example of an ActionSprout landing page on Facebook.

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Let’s dig into the different pieces of the landing page.

CTA in Title
You should make sure the call to action appears as the title of the post as well as appearing in the header.

Clear Button Text
If you are asking people to sign a petition, it should be very easy for them to do. In this example from League of Conservation Voters, you sign the petition by clicking the large blue button.

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As you can see, this page made a button with the verb of the action you are asking people to take. It can be whatever action you want people to take.

The language on the landing page should also be clear as to what the problem is and how signing it will lead to a solution.

Motivation
Where appropriate, use the format of setting up a problem (“there is a growing obesity epidemic”); providing a solution (“but providing healthy fitness activities for children can curb obesity”); and then an action (“join thousands who are taking the pledge to get their kids moving and healthy!”).

This paragraph establishes a clear urgency to motivate people to act by relaying the problem:

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This paragraph of the action makes the theory of change clear. There is a solution to this and when we work together, we can make it happen:

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Powerful Language
This can boost supporter engagement and participation. Powerful language establishes the emotional reason for the action, and urgency creates the impetus to take the action now.

Also make sure to use inclusive language, i.e. “we” not “you”. Your audience is part of the team—you aren’t asking them to do you a favor.

Clarity
Make sure to keep it clear and concise—no more than a few paragraphs is usually best for this section.

Privacy Policy
This is an important element of the trust you are building with your community. The page should have a link to or text of a privacy policy that transparently discloses how you collect information from your supporters and what you will use it for.

Goal Setting
Where this is appropriate, it’s great to set a goal and a deadline to accomplish. It helps build a sense of urgency and impact. If you have an auto goal-counting tool, use it. If not, you can always write the goal manually and update the text as you go to provide feedback.

Note—some things to consider when setting goals: How large does the goal need to be to feel impactful, and can your community achieve that goal?

“For More Information”
Think about adding additional details to make the action real, and show how this will have an effect in real life.
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You can use footnotes to provide your supporters with extra resources on the topic that you might not want to put directly on the landing page:

How Do I Craft the Perfect Facebook Post Promoting My Action?

When posting your Action to Facebook, we encourage crafting multiple posts using the same link. Here are some tips:

Get the Call to Action up Front
That initial text at the top of your post matters!

The vast majority of Facebook users are first seeing your post while scrolling through their News Feeds on mobile devices.

Don’t hide your action! Providing a clear call to action early in a post (with the link) increases the chances of a person seeing and completing it. It should look something like: “Tell X to Do Y: www.xyz.com“. You can even consider writing the call to action first, and then adding some extra content below.

Add Some Motivating Context
Explain up front what exactly the action is, and why completing it will make a difference. You won’t have a lot of space, but anything you can write succinctly will increase the number of people that follow through and complete it.

Where possible, use emotional language, have a clear directed target, and express urgency and goals. You might not be able to squeeze all of this into one post, so use what fits.

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Use a Link Post
Once your landing page is ready for action, you will need a Facebook post to tell people where to go to take it. We recommend using a link post. Generally, link posts do the best in terms of driving the most people to take action—but feel free to experiment with image posts as well!

A link post pulls the landing page’s title, a portion of your description and the social action page image—all of which you can edit before posting. Use the title to highlight the call to action again, and ensure that your description is motivating and attention-grabbing.

Remember that your post is competing for attention in the News Feed. Take advantage of these options to make it stand out as much as possible.

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Don’t Forget the Photo
Shareable photos use popular elements like cute animals, cultural icons, or smiling faces and uses bold, contrasting colors.

Facebook will choose an image from your page, or you can replace it with a better one if you don’t like the one Facebook chooses. Simply click “+Upload Image” to change the photo.Pixlris a great tool that allows you to easily add text to an image so that you can add the call to action to the image itself as well.

Follow up with People after They Take the Action!

After the action, you have the chance to thank people for their support and interest in your cause. This will increase the likelihood of them supporting your cause in the future.

Thanks
In the post action message, remember to thank your community for taking the action.

Comments
Monitor the comments on your action, both on Facebook and when people email you. Every time a supporter comments or decides to share the action, it is another chance to bring in new action-takers. Plus, someone might leave an amazing comment and you might want to follow up on that.

Update
After the action, post an update. How did the effort go? Did the change that you promised happen? What part did everyone play in that success? Or if it failed, but requires more effort, that’s okay to know to.

Be honest. At the end of the day, this is about building a relationship so that someone believes that this is something worth being a part of.

That was a lot to get through, but now you have everything you need to create an effective call to action that will engage and move your supporters to action!

Key Takeaways:

  1. Be “audience-centric” when you are picking an Action. Learn what issues and content most motivates your audience to take action and share with others.
  2. Be clear and urgent on calls to action: make sure people know what you are asking them to do and why it’s important.
  3. Use a tool like ActionSprout, or build a landing page that describes a tangible challenge, a way forward to solve it and a clear action that your supporter can take to help make the solution happen.
  4. Create a Facebook link post to drive the most clicks, using the headline, description and image to reinforce the action you want people to take.
  5. Whenever possible, follow up with people after they take action, to let them know the impact they helped make happen.

cxoherald

Blogger,Marketer & Entrepreneur

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