Okay. I’ve seen this enough to make me annoyed to the point of writing a post about it. I actually noticed this disturbing trend about a year ago, but struggled for a way to describe why it was so wrong, but I’ve got it thanks to Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee).
As I said, I started noticing this about a year ago when companies decided that it was finally cool to mention in all their ads that you could find them on Facebook and Twitter. Not understanding how social media works, most of these companies did the exact wrong thing. [Just for clarification, I'm talking about offline advertising here.] I know that you’ve all seen this before, but for illustration purposes, here’s what annoys me so much:
You’ve seen this before, right? Nothing out of the ordinary. It’s just a local company (with a killer tagline that I created of course) promoting their business in an ad including their presence on Facebook and Twitter. My hat’s off to them, as they’re using all the marketing channels available to them. Why Facebook or Twitter might make sense for a glass company isn’t the point of this post. No, I want to talk about those two menacing little icons on the bottom of this ad. What are they there for? Presumably, I’m supposed to go to Facebook and Twitter and look up Ralph’s. Let’s say I do take this huge leap, where the hell do I find Ralph’s on Facebook? I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be http://www.facebook.com/ralphs or http://www.facebook.com/ralphsglassanddoor. And if it’s not one of these, what is it? The way that Facebook search works, I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t show up if I searched for “Ralph’s.” On Twitter, I know that it’s not going to be http://twitter.com/ralphs. So, how in the world do I find you on Twitter or Facebook? It’s one thing if you’re Red Bull and have a hugely popular page or account that has a super obvious URL or comes up first in search, but Ralph’s and the vast, vast majority of other companies aren’t Red Bull. You can also use the icons if this is an online ad where I can click the icons and be taken to your page or account, but I’m talking about offline ads where this is all too common. Now that I mentioned it, you’ll notice this in TV, print, and billboards (and it’ll probably really bother you).
This is a message not just to all the Mom and Pop shops out there. This message goes to every major brand in the world. Don’t do this.
Now, if I haven’t demonstrated why this is annoying and a poor use of advertising space yet, you probably need an analogy. This is where Gary V helped me. I heard his talk at SXSW this past year and he explained why this is such a poor practice with one simply analogy. If you don’t tell me where to find you on Facebook or Twitter and instead use an icon, it’s the exact same thing as doing this:
Compare this to the first version of the ad. See the problem with this? Would you do this?
Putting icons in your offline ads to represent your Facebook and Twitter accounts instead of actually listing the URLs is the exact same thing as using an icon of a phone in place of your actual phone number. It makes no sense. So, please stop doing this immediately.
EDIT: quick follow up…I decided to do a post in response to all the comments about how you SHOULD do this. Check out The Right Way to Publicize Your Facebook and Twitter Accounts.