This Week In Writing, we explore the “necessary evil” of calls to action and ask if they are any better than tacky banner ads.
As I started reading I was thinking that really what it’s come down to is that you just have to provide something of value that people want to share.
I think there are a few types of people online:
- those who realize how important it is for creators that you share their work and are therefore more likely to share it (mostly other creators and/or people who love us)
- those who value the insights and instructive content provided and know others who would too
- those who don’t consume content for any of these purposes and need to be told how sharing can benefit the ecosystem.
The first two will naturally share things. The CTA is really for the third kind of person. And I’m just not sure how large that population segment is.
I think the issue is both historic and systemic ~ when writers and reporters had a solid wall between advertising and content, for example in a newsroom, or in the case of magazine writing, calls to action were implied in the writing itself. (Ie; A travel piece on Rome encouraged trips to Rome, and ads for hotels or restaurants). When that wall was dissolved, it distorted the clarity of a writer's purpose. So, CTA's are a structural component of a simple desire: a person's need to pay the bills from their creative work. Many writers and artists don't love promoting themselves, so maybe a humorous approach is something that would work better (at least in terms of comfort if not finances). In my opinion, it's a systemic question that goes beyond CTA's ~ before Motown, and perhaps before Michelangelo. Even he had to work for the church to do his thing. But the church had its own money making structure.
I don’t love CTAs . I think they’re a necessary part of sales copy. I think personalizing them is so important. As someone who is a copywriter by trade and also trying to get away from the almost robotic nature of it, I lean towards CTAs that encourage connection. “Let’s connect!” Or let’s connect on a deeper level! Maybe they don’t drive the most sales , but I think they make people look twice- and I really *do* want to connect with people . Whether they become clients or not.
This is an interesting article. I had to click because I couldn't remember what CTA even stood for. Over the last few months, I've switched to "please subscribe to my emails." Sometimes I mix it up just to get people to read it. I have noticed more views on articles that are linked at the end of a viral article, but I've also quit including those links. The call to action aspect of writing has never worked for me... I guess I'm just not that type of writer. There are a lot of people with super popular channels and all they seem to do is post videos asking viewers to subscribe. What's the incentive? So they can get another video about how they should subscribe? Pls like, pls share! If an article has good content, CTAs don't offend me, but I don't read them. My brain shuts off, it's like I don't even see them.
I found it humorous that an article questioning the value of CTAs and expressing thanks that Medium is ending the referral program ends with a CTA that includes an encouragement to join Medium using your affiliate link 😂.
I’m glad Medium is ending the referral program, too, and making some other changes that seem promising. I’m delighted writers who want to join the Partner Program will have to be paying members; I always thought that should have been a requirement.