Can a few simple modifications to a Facebook Social Action drastically improve the number of supporters who'll take action?

Perhaps you should ask Polar Bears International. With just a few recommended tweaks to one of their petition posts, we were able to boost their response rate by 300%. That's a pretty drastic improvement!

So, how did they do it exactly? Let's back up and do a little social engagement 101. In order to understand supporter engagement with your content, it's important to understand how they can engage and what can be considered a success.

What is Social Engagement?

It's when your supporters perform any of the following with your Facebook content:

  • React to it

  • Share it

  • Comment on it

  • Click on it

Engagement is important because it influences how many people a particular post will reach on Facebook. The more engagement an action post has, the more people it will reach, increasing the number of people who have the chance to take action. In other words, it creates a snowball effect... if you can get that original ball rolling.

Now let's take a look at the example we mentioned and why it was so successful.

What did Polar Bears International do right?

Polar Bears International is a Montana-based organization dedicated to saving the polar bears. They launched a successful Social Action during Polar Bear Week, which is held annually in the first week of November.

The first Social Action they posted that week resulted in the following:

  • 1,142 people liked, shared, commented and/or clicked on the post

  • 161 people ended up completing the action and providing contact info

  • Total conversion rate of 14.1% 

Given the size of their Facebook page and engagement activity, those are solid numbers—but we thought there was room to do even better!  By making a few simple changes (based on lessons from some of our most successful nonprofit social media managers) the second try produced these results:

  • 1,980 people engaged with the content through likes, shares and comment

  • 577 people completed the action and provided their contact info

  • Total conversion rate of 29.1%

Analysis of the post, before and after

As you can see above, the before post really isn’t too shabby. The key to social action optimization is in the fine details. There are many seemly small things you can do to optimize for success.

Let’s look at how we specifically changed the action, leaving you with 7 tips you can use going forward. Here's to achieving the same results (or better) on your own Facebook Page!

Tip #1: Create a clear call to action (CTA)

Providing a clear CTA in a post substantially increases the chance that the person reading it will complete it. Look again at the difference between the two posts above. Do you see how the CTA in the second one communicates more urgency and reward?

The vast majority of Facebook users will see your post while scrolling through their news feed on a mobile device. By immediately explaining exactly what the action is and why completing it will make a difference, you make it quick and easy for distracted browsers to follow through.

Also, it's worth noting that the best actions have a clear directed “target” or easy explanation. By expressing urgency, having an emotional hook, or using other powerful language, you can quickly boost supporter engagement and participation.

Tip #2: Use powerful images

Pictures are still worth a thousand words, but on the internet, pictures have the power to go much farther and faster.

See how the second post uses a more sympathetic and shareable picture? We went with vibrant colors, a clear illustration of the impending problem, and cute polar cubs with their mommy. And voilà! It became much more attention-grabbing.

When in doubt, you can reuse a photo that you’ve seen work before on your own Facebook page or elsewhere. Remember, the more engagement, the more potential action takers.

There's a growing debate about whether link posts are better than photo posts, but link posts generally still do a better job at driving action. 

For this reason, Facebook chooses to prioritize link posts because they've seen that such posts receive twice as many clicks.

The Action: Before

The Action: After

See how much more emotionally engaged the second one is? It grabs your attention, and you can really FEEL something as you read it. That makes all the difference in getting people to act.

Tip #4: Set goals

Using goals is an age-old trick to drive up completion rates for online petitions. Notice that the second version of the post sets a clear goal. When a problem seems too big or overwhelming, people are less likely to respond. Small, manageable steps are more appealing.

Posts where the action is presented as "bite-size yet meaningful to the cause," is where we’ve seen posts and social actions gain the most traction. Goals make users feel like their individual actions will add up to something bigger, resulting in real change.

Tip #5: Guarantee their privacy

People are becoming more and more protective of their privacy and data over time, and if you want to gain loyal supporters, it's important you respect and honor that. The second version of the post above has a privacy statement included right up front. Many supporters appreciate such a statement because it tells them you respect them and how their data will be used.

Tip #6: Motivate true support

If you want to truly understand what causes will make people to take action, start with analyzing your own personal response. In our second version of the post, the language included below the image is far more detailed. It presents the problem, provides a solution, and inspires you to take action to make that solution a reality. If you personally connect with that urgency to engage, your supporters are more likely to feel that way, too.

Tip #7: Include an explicit button

Finally, the button text matters. In the second action, we revised the button to be both simpler and more straightforward. Readers can clearly grasp why they should click and what difference they can make if they do.

So let's review... 

  1. Include a clear call to action

  2. User powerful imagery

  3. Leverage link posts 

  4. Set Goals

  5. Respect their privacy

  6. Motivate true support

  7. Include an explicit button

The next time you're creating a social action, check it against this list. Once you see the results, you'll be so glad you did.

Find even more social action best practices here. 

If you have questions, reach us at We're always happy to help!

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