Putting social media icons in a print ad is simply stupid

Putting social media icons in a print ad is simply stupid

I’ll admit, I’ve been handling a lot of our online work recently. So when I had the opportunity to jump back into print design I was delighted. My first project was a series of ads for a client. I started my process like I normally do; I grabbed the target publications and researched competitors, etc.

Lots of ads include social media icons

The first oddity that struck me was the repeated occurrence of Facebook, Twitter, and other social icons cluttering up the bottom of print ads. The first time, I chalked it up to a quirk, a bad decision. But as others continued to use social icons I realized the stupid was spreading. I was left shaking my head and asking why.

How are you supposed to share from a print ad?

The purpose of using social media is to promote sharing of content, to foster engagement, and to create a real-time relationship with your customers. How is this supposed to be possible via print icons on a magazine page? I mean, what’s the expectation? Am I the reader supposed to see a Facebook icon in an ad, grab my phone, and search for your company so I can "Like" you? Or is the goal to simply promote... "hey, we’re on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest... look at us... we’re savvy and cool"?

It’s expected for your company to use social media

First, if you’re buying print media, and the ad lists a website, then it’s a given you’re probably on social media too. In fact, simply listing your website is sufficient, and makes it easier for me to find you on social media. Since I’ll assume when I visit your site there will be actual clickable icons to your social media channels.

Sure, some of the ads included QR codes too. At least these provide some method for me to interact with your printed page. Though, the payoff is usually sub par, and I’m left with a failed interaction. But at least they tried. But to waste space on a Twitter or other social icon... that’s really simply promoting that channel’s brand, not yours... is just plain dumb.

So no, I didn’t add social media icons...

As you may have surmised, the final ads I designed do not include social media icons. The ad does include a website url that’s customized to provide track-ability - connecting offline with online efforts. And yes, the landing page has social media icon links... right where they should be, online.

Maybe I’m missing something. But if you want to engage with me on social media... don’t try to do it via ink on dead trees. I mean, connect with me online, where you know you can actually be social. Or even better yet... do something that makes me “want” to be social with you. Do something engaging and I’ll find and follow or like or friend you.

May 08, 2014

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There are 1 comments for this entry. Leave a comment below »

Thank you! I was just debating about that very issue and all of your points are what I was already leaning towards. I'm including just email address (which also doubles as website) - not for a print ad but a product label.

May 16, 2016

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