Stop The Social Media Icon Insanity

There continues to exist a widespread, bizarre phenomenon of companies printing social media icons and sticking them on printed materials without any context or URLs.

Widespread, because you don’t have to look very far to find examples of doing it wrong. Bizarre, because this is basically free promotion for sites like Facebook and Twitter but does nothing to help these companies. It’s a stunning example of just how real the business world’s digital divide still is.

It’s also a systemic enough problem I was easily able to document in my personal travels the following 4 examples:

Example 1:  the icons, no CTA, no URLs

Ummmm…and what exactly are we supposed to do here? Where do we go? Why should we? We can’t click your magazine ad, but thanks for the reminder that Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Foursquare exist. Because that’s what is happening here.

Example 2:  the icons, CTAs …but no URLs

Unbelievable that a social media marketing conference put this on their printed flier. Strikingly absent is the most important item for a conference: the hashtag. And don’t get me started on the even more obvious missing URLs. To give them the benefit of the doubt, I tried a Twitter search and a Google search but came up short even finding these people on Twitter as one example. I’m sure I could have found it via operator queries and some more tries, but why would anyone do this? Makes me wonder if the people running the conference even understand the content that will be presented.

 Example 3: icons and QR codes – no URLs, no CTAs

I took this photo the other day in Union Square in downtown San Francisco. On an absurdly busy sidewalk. As if someone is going to stop, randomly and notice the comically tiny QR code and load it up on their mobile. Instead of, I don’t know, entering the store? Again: Facebook and Twitter must be loving that the entire world is blanketing themselves with their logos. Sheer brilliance on their part. Absurd for any company to do without the URLs or at the very least the handles. Oh, and good luck to this store considering that, statistically, the odds are 1 in every 244 might even potentially use QR codes (and how many would actually stop on a busy street to load this up?).

Example 4: well, some are just hopeless

I found this on the back of a mailer that was sitting on the counter in our office. Can you spot all the things wrong with the above image? Not only did they include http://, www, the /#! in the Twitter URL  and the /user in YouTube (all totally unnecessary) they even managed to mess up the Facebook and Twitter logo placement. It really begs the question: does the person who designed this even use the internet? Looks like they copy-pasted some URLs and threw this together in about 5 minutes. At least they provided some sort of benefit statement for each channel, although what’s up with the capitalization inconsistency? This really tells me nothing other than the company doesn’t care about their marketing.

Is this stuff really so hard to get right?

Oh, and if you’re looking for advice on what you should actually do to promote your social outposts in printed materials, Jonathan Richman has some tips.