Direct Response Copy Sticks out Like a Sore Thumb on Social…

Anyone who has worked with adults, children or animals knows… tone is everything.

It’s also implicitly known that we all adapt our voice and messaging depending on the situation and audience.

We naturally vary the way we speak about our product or business in various in-person situations. Because we do this form of code-switching almost unconsciously and using very human cues it’s understandable that many marketers have missed this concept when talking about their products and businesses on various digital platforms.

Putting thought, time and effort into developing your customer persona is important – but don’t stop there! It’s also vitally important to understand that your customer almost certainly uses an assortment of digital platforms and that their behaviors and mindsets are different on each.

What works in one place will not necessarily work elsewhere.

Intent matters.

Users of social media are there to be… you guessed it – social! They’re not there to go shopping.

Where a Google ad can use direct response messaging because browsers of the internet are in a seeking behaviour, like people at the mall.

A digital direct response ad is like a window sign at the mall enticing buyers in.

But people on social media are not behaving like shoppers at a mall. Their behaviour is more akin to people at a BBQ – chatting, interacting, learning, catching up. This doesn’t mean that they may not be in the market to buy something, but a conversation that would lead to a sale would be different.

A few scenarios that could unfold at a BBQ that could lead to a sales conversion:


While talking to Jill, Sarah notices Jill has a great new haircut, compliments her, then learns that the salon Jill went to is in her neighborhood. Sarah’s been unhappy with her current stylist and ends up switching to Jill’s new stylist and salon.

Experience / Demonstration: 

The burgers are crazy delicious – they get rave reviews. Host Darnell shares the name of the butcher shop who made them. Because the guests of the BBQ got to experience the taste of the burgers, several go on to purchase them also.

Enticing offer with universal appeal, right timing, peer influence:

The tell-tale jingle of an ice cream truck approaching rings out as the meal is winding down – the side dishes were potluck contributions from the guests and nearly everyone was thinking salad, so the dessert options are slim pickings. Hearing the ice cream truck coming, Jill, Darnell, Sarah and Jeff scoot out the back gate to flag down the truck and get a fix for their sweet tooth. Other folks see what they are up to and realize ice cream is the perfect way to satisfy their sweet tooth too and soon there are a dozen customers lined up at the truck.

Any examples of a lead or sales conversion that you would add to this story?

Be the kind of marketer that gets invited back to the party…

You know what would be pretty awkward at this BBQ?

If any of those interactions had been substituted with a pitch like:

    • “Best Rated Hair Salon – Haircuts 20% off!”
    • “World’s Tastiest Hamburgers”
    • “Ice Cream for Sale – Limited Time Only”

Chances of those converting new customers? Slim to none.

Many a marketer has come to social media with the promise that the magic of social advertising is the ability to reach huge audiences and the algorithmic targeting of personas. It’s part of it, but unless you get your messaging right, you’re just someone at a BIGGER bbq (maybe they are all hamburger lovers) shouting “World’s Tastiest Hamburgers!!” and getting ignored by 98% of the people there.

As more and more marketers come to the platforms, competition increases and the importance of getting your messaging right is more important than ever.

We introduced a new client recently to social media who was immersed in Google Ads. They provided their direct response copy and images to test on Facebook and Instagram. After testing the copy they provided alongside other ads we created with a conversational & more informative approach, our ads won every single side-by-side split test.

By being an outsider to their company and experts in social media copywriting, we were clearly able to trace the buyer journey back to where they would likely be when they’re on social media as opposed to being an active buyer seeking their solution on Google.

If your social ads are slim on copy and results, contact us for a marketing consultation to discuss how we can help you nail your message to stand out in all the right ways on social. Or check out the second part of this article. We had so much to say about this, it turned into two articles!

Picture of Tammy Martin

Tammy Martin

Tammy is the company founder and crafty innovator behind this article. Since 2000, she has worked with clients to refine their marketing strategy, perfect ad performance, and generate sales from the bottom up.

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