The Awkward Truth About Social Media Icons
Bill Bernbach, the godfather of advertising, or whatever celebratory title you wish to give the legend, was said to hate having to put a logo on a print ad. It delivered a message to the reader that this was indeed “an ad,” and therefore could be skipped. Today, he would probably go absolutely bonkers seeing the numerous icons that have become fixtures of ads in addition to the logo. Namely those ever popular social media logos.
They are popping up in almost every form of advertising, digital or not. Their purpose is to push the marketing initiatives of the company in their effort to stay cool, hip, and popular. The thing is, flashing these icons any chance you get is about as tantalizing as saying "Hey, look at me! I'm super cool! I'm with it!" It falls flat, feels fake, and looks awkward.
If you have a print ad in a magazine or newspaper how likely are your consumers to take the time to follow your Twitter or Like your Facebook page? Unless you have a special offer or a call to action that sends them there for more information, not very likely. If anything, they’ll see the numerous icons on the bottom of the page jumbled next to the logo and turn the page.
As the infamous communication theorist, Marshall McLuhan, said “The Medium is the Message.” When developing your Web presence and online strategy, you have to think about what is practical and appropriate to develop an actual conversation with the user. In the age of smart phones, sure, someone could see your ad in a magazine then follow you almost instantly. Still, unless you’re really compelling them to do this, not very likely.
Synergy can be achieved if your social media is pushed in a way that flows organically from one medium to another, without cluttering the message. The next time someone thinks of putting a Youtube icon on the bottom of the page just because you have a page, make sure the ad at least makes them feel like they have something to look forward to, instead of just another ad to skip.