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Enough is Enough…Your Social Icons Mean Nothing

Ok, we’ve all seen this when walking into a restaurant or store:

(Sorry to pick on you @Moes_HQ)

Or this when looking at magazines, brochures, or other print material:

They are everywhere. But WHY????


Too many people join social media simply because they feel like they have to (usually because their competitor is doing it or they read an article on it). They see the potential big wins of driving people to their store or site, or maybe they go farther and see the ability to quickly and easily engage with their customers. I whole-heartedly, 100% agree with the fact that social media can have a major impact on your business, when done right. I preach the social media gospel, and help individuals and companies see the light for a living…But I ask you, what does this accomplish?

Enough is Enough…END THE MADNESS!!!

The point of social media is to engage with people. It is to start a conversation. Companies that got in early and utilized social media as a marketing channel had major wins, but now anyone and everyone has an account. So slapping social media icons on your website, in your email signatures, in your print materials, and in your store is not enough. All it does is tell people that facebook exists…twitter exists…maybe it tells them that you know they exist. But in the end that’s all it accomplishes.

Simply having icons on your website is a start. The icon will have a meaning to people involved on those networks, and it allows them to link to you and your profile, and if your lucky, engage with you. But because these icons live in the electronic world, they provide that link. A print piece or an in-store piece doesn’t have that capability. It is flat and static. Those icons mean nothing, and accomplish nothing!

How we got here

A couple years ago, a facebook icon on your print material maybe said a little more. Social media had not completely engulfed the masses, and certainly wasn’t the norm, so that icon made you stand out. A social media junkie (aka..early adopter) probably whipped out their iPhone or BlackBerry and searched out your profile on facebook. But that says more about the demographic of social media adopters at that time than it does about that icon’s effectiveness in your marketing piece.

Today the average social media user has changed. It is much closer to the average consumer demographic than ever before. More of your customers are using social media, but they are less technical users of the platforms and not as devoted as they were ‘back when.’ Asking them to search you out on that social network to connect with you is asking a lot. Many of them probably have no idea even how to perform that search.

The Solution…Add Value

Tell people more. Tell them your username. Tell them why they should connect with you. You wouldn’t just create a postcard that only had a picture of a ‘Sale’ tag and send it to your customers. You would tell them what the sale is, when it is, where it is, and why they should come. Promotion of your social media should be done the same way. This is what we are moving to at ASPE:

It tells people:

  • Why they should connect with us
  • Where they can connect with us
  • What our usernames are
  • How they can connect with us

It gives people the option to instantly mention or message us on twitter, tells them what our company profile is on LinkedIn if they want to connect, let’s them know exactly what our channel is on YouTube, gives them a webpage where they can find out more about our use of social media, what to expect if they choose to connect with us, and links them directly to us from that page, and it even gives them a QR code they can use (if they know what it is) that takes them directly to that page,so they don’t have to type or search.

Yes, it takes up more real-estate, but it is a much stronger utilization of the space. If you want to take it a step further, try asking a question in your text to start the conversation. Tell them to tweet a picture of your ‘social connect graphic’ (whatever campaign it’s for…the above example is just a branding campaign) for a chance to win a prize. Engage them!

In the end you should see better results in driving people to connect with you, and should see a network that is more engaged with you. So stop plastering social media icons on your print materials, and start adding value.

If you want to get even more advanced, try testing the graphic against your lame (kidding) use of just icons. Use tracking on your website to tag traffic from your ‘social connect graphic.’ You can attach a parameter in the QR code link or use a special URL that is only listed in that graphic. Compare the amount of traffic with that tag or to that specific page with the traffic from pieces that only have the icons and see which performs better.

Agree? Disagree? Have your own examples of Good/Poor use of social media icons?

Send us a tweet (include your own photos or comments) and use the hashtag #endthemadness!

8 Comments on Enough is Enough…Your Social Icons Mean Nothing

  1. David Mantica
    May 6, 2011 at 8:11 pm (6 years ago)

    My grandfather was an econ professional. He hated clothing that had manufacturers’ brands extremely visible. He felt the manufacturer should pay consumers for advertising for them. But in the end manufacturers had the ability to manipulate people into advertising for them.

    You were manipulated into feeling cool to have the “swoosh” on your hat or shirt. This manipulation has led to millions and millions of dollars worth of free marketing.

    This post shows the same happening in the internet marketing world with the social media icons. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and the like are getting millions of dollars of free marketing because companies must follow the Jones.


    • JT Moore
      May 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm (6 years ago)

      Great point, David. That point adds to my response to Gene. Including only the icon doesn’t really add brand value for you company…it merely implies (to some level) that you are involved in that network in some capacity. I would love to see a study done that overlays social media adoption and activity (number of posts) with the increased practice of including icons on the various marketing channels (web, print, tv, etc.).

  2. Wayne Sutton
    May 6, 2011 at 8:14 pm (6 years ago)

    Agreed and thank you for saying it.

    • JT Moore
      May 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks for your comment, and the retweet :)

  3. Gene Crawford
    May 6, 2011 at 8:31 pm (6 years ago)

    I’d have to disagree on a small level. I think there’s value in displaying the icon at least. It’s training folks to know that you exist in those online places. The brands are usually pretty strong, like Moe’s, that people can easily look them up.

    Now i’m mainly thinking abut those icons you see on TV shows – and haven’t thought too terribly much about them on print items. But maybe the same thought holds true there too?

    • JT Moore
      May 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm (6 years ago)

      Gene, there is a small amount of value (a small amount in my opinion) from a branding perspective. In TV, I’ve seen companies like Volkswagen (who get social media) include both the icon and the username. For the effort involved, I think the potential return from that small change speaks for itself. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Brian McDonald
    May 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm (6 years ago)

    This goes back to good old fashion communication. Putting just the social network icon does more brand awareness for Facebook, Twitter, etc. than your brand. I remember first seeing websites on TV commercials. Because of the uniqueness of URLs this was not a problem. Now that we are carving out our brand’s space on a shared network there needs to be strong communication as to why spend time with us on any social network. Good example of how to do it right and communicate!

    • JT Moore
      May 9, 2011 at 4:52 pm (6 years ago)

      100% agree, Brian. I think we are still early in the overall mass adoption of social media, and right now people are ok with it. I believe we will soon start seeing a shift as more people connect with brands and feel a lack of value and engagement. People will start demanding more value and benefit from companies before connecting with them in social media, and the days of Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) and Charlie Sheen (@charliesheen) connections will become a thing of the past.


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