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10 Instagram Call to Action Tips for Best Results

In this post, you'll find 10 Instagram call to action (CTA) tips for best results. These are illustrated with good practice examples - and the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. 

What more could you want? Let's go!

What is a Call to Action?

To kick off, what is a call to action?

In short, a call to action tells your reader what to do. For example, ‘follow us for more top tips,’ ‘share your thoughts in the comments,’ or ‘DM us now to book your slot!’ They’re designed to get the reader to do something you want them to do.

Example Instagram CTA
Here's an example Instagram call to action to click the link in bio.

Every Instagram caption should have a call to action. No exceptions.

Find out more in my article How to Write Instagram Captions in 4 Easy Steps.

Why Include a Call to Action on Instagram?

But why should you include a call to action on Instagram?

In short, because telling people what to do stops them having to think about it. And this makes them more likely to act.

By contrast, with no call to action, folks may just scroll on by. Even if they liked your content!

Post with missing CTA
This is a great post, but it's missing a CTA!

There are two reasons you want people to act:

  1. People who engage with your content see more of it... helping them become super fans.
  2. When the Instagram notices folks engaging, it promotes your content to more people.

Both are an essential part of growing your Instagram account.

Tips for Using CTAs on Instagram

Now you understand why Instagram calls to action are vital, let’s talk about how you use them.

There’s one overarching rule: Treat everyone like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. That is: Like they have no brain.

The more people have to think to take action, the less likely they are to act. So, take the thinking out of it! Here’s how...

1. Use One CTA

Often more than one CTA will be relevant to your content. But! For each Instagram caption, you should use exactly one call to action. 

Why? Deciding between multiple courses of action means you have to think! And that’s no good for scarecrows. Compare:

Instagram post with two calls to action
This Instagram post has two calls to action.

By including two calls to action, this post confuses the scarecrow. So they do neither.

One Instagram CTA
This post uses one call to action. Perfect!

By contrast, one call to action gets rid of any confusion. 

If there’s more than one action you want, make two posts with two calls to action. Simple.

2. Tell Them Exactly What to Do

Vague calls to action confuse scarecrows. So, don't be vague. Tell them exactly what to do.

For example, 'get in touch for more information' might sound good at first. But notice that it requires our scarecrows to figure out how to get in touch. Email? Phone? Carrier pigeon?

Vague Instagram call to action
This post's call to action is vague - how do we celebrate exactly?

By contrast, ‘DM us BUTTERFLIES for more information’ is very specific. It tells our scarecrows exactly what to do. 

And because of this, it’s likely to get more responses.

Specific Instagram CTA
This call to action tells you not only to direct message, but exactly what words to send! Great.

3. Make the Action Easy

The easier the action, the more likely your scarecrow is to do it. So make your A, in your CTA, a piece of cake.

We've all been there: We try to subscribe to a newsletter or donate to a cause, but give up halfway through. Why? Because it's too difficult. There are too many steps. We go off the boil.

Take a look at these two giveaway posts:

Instagram giveaway post requiring lots of actions
This giveaway requires four separate actions to enter! That's a a lot. 

Easy Instagram giveaway
By contrast, this giveaway asks for just two actions: Like and tag a friend. Easy.

Both CTAs obey rules 1 and 2. There’s one CTA (enter the giveaway) and they tell the reader exactly what to do. 

But the second is much easier than the first. So scarecrows are more likely to do it.

A quick caveat: You’ll see gigantic accounts using complex giveaway CTAs. This is because they have enough followers and fancy enough prizes to ensure they’ll still get plenty of entries. If you have over 100k followers and a prize worth a small fortune, be my guest with a complex CTA.

Not you? Make your Instagram call to action easy.

4. Put Instagram CTAs Upfront

Calls to action in the first line of your caption can get great results. Blimey! Scarecrows don’t even have to read your caption to know what to do.

Upfront calls to action work well with graphics that speak for themselves. For example, 'drop purple hearts if you love this image’ or 'double tap if you agree'.

Drop purple hearts
Check out this upfront call to action - and the amazing response it gets!

Of course, some calls to action make the most sense at the end of your post. And that’s fine! Just don't put all CTAs at the end. Mix it up.

5. State the Benefit

What will our scarecrows get, if they complete the A in your CTA? According to CTA studies, telling them the benefit gets 30% more of them doing it!

So, it’s not just ‘follow us.’ It’s ‘follow us for eco-living tips.’ It’s not just ‘DM us.’ But ‘DM us for your free butterfly factsheet.’

Instagram beavers post with CTA stating benefit
Here, the CTA to visit the bio link tells us why - to find out why beavers are 'eco-engineers'.

To do this, think about what’s it for your readers. Then pop that down, clear as day.

Yes, it might obvious if they think about it. But! Scarecrows don’t think.

6. Add Action Emojis & Icons

Want your scarecrow to drop purple hearts? Add purple heart emojis!

Want them to click a link in your story? Add a big flashing finger pointing to where to click! 

Want them to swipe? Add arrows showing which way to go!

Instagram visuals illustrate what to do
Visuals, like arrows and emojis, illustrate what to do.

Visuals make the point faster than words ever can. And are perfect for the scarecrow population.

7. Keep it Brief

Scarecrows get lost in long sentences. So, keep them short.

Don't say: ‘Click the link in our bio to see more incredible pictures of beautiful puppies who have been saved by our charity’s efforts.’

Say: ‘See more puppy pictures (link in bio).’

It's easier to skim. The action is clearer. And the scarecrow is more likely to do it. 


Instagram post with a long call to action
This long call to action is hard to read. A shorter one would get better results.
Short Instagram call to action
A nice short, snappy CTA is easy to action.

8. Add Urgency

Scarecrows are more likely to act under time pressure. You can create a sense of urgency by adding words like ‘now’ to your CTA.

Less Plastic Instagram post with call to action that adds urgency
The call to action on this Instagram post makes clear that there's a time limit.

You can also create urgency with a time-limited offer. For example, ‘first 10 people to like this post get a free t-shirt'.

9. Use CTAs on Carousel Images

When including CTAs on Instagram carousels, put them in the images.

Carousels are one of the most popular formats on Instagram. They often tell a story as you swipe. But their captions often get ignored. 

This is because folks expect the helpful content to be in the images.

So, put your CTA in the caption and your scarecrow may never see it. And if they don’t see it, they won’t do it.

Add your call to action to the images in your carousel.

Instagram carousel call to action
This final image in an Instagram carousel features a CTA to get the free book.

10. Don't Use URLs in Post CTAs

I know we all wish it were diffrerent, but URLs are famously not clickable in Instagram posts. And scarecrows simply aren't going to go the extra mile and type a URL into their browser. That would be unthinkable!

So, don't use them in your post CTAs. 

Instagram post with URL in CTA
Are people really going to open their browser and type this in? I think not.

Have a link you want people to click? Use the old 'link in bio' trick or add the link to a story and use your CTA to direct people there. 

Use these Instagram CTA Tips  

So, there you have it, 10 Instagram call to action tips. Use these next time you post on the platform to get results from your content. 

Sound too much like hard work? Find out how I can help with my Instagram services.