A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place

Why social icons don’t belong anywhere except the web.

It seems I can try to make this argument until I’m blue in the face, but I’ll say it louder for those in the back—those social media icons you keep putting on your print media? Those don’t belong there.

There are more and more people out there trying to either start their own business or supplement their income, and they’re trying to do it a) on their own and b) on a budget. I get that. Good on you for being ambitious. However… I’ve lost count of the number of times those in that position have asked for advice from professionals and then completely ignored that advice. Believe me, we want to see you succeed! But we’re not lying. “But I’ve seen other people do it a lot.” Yes, but that means nothing except that it’s a more common mistake than it should be—let’s set yourself apart from those amateurs and put your best foot forward. Why do they not belong on your business card, vehicle wrap, promotional magnet, etc.? Because it’s a digital icon. Social buttons have no place in print media by their very definition—the primary purpose of a social media icon is that it is a low-resolution graphic to use on a website or email as a clickable link to take you directly to that particular social media page. So what happens when we move that icon to a business card? It tells the reader nothing. It is no longer clickable. It’s now useless. “But I’m telling my potential customers that they should look me up on Facebook, and I’ve gotten a lot of page views this way.” You might believe that, but the reason for those page views is likely something else—a well-recognizable sign and logo on your storefront or work van, word of mouth, SEO, etc. for example, are much more likely reasons they wound up there. It’s worth your time to delve more deeply into your page analytics to see exactly how those views are originating when possible instead of making assumptions. A Facebook icon on a van tells you one thing- Facebook exists. Duh. The potential customer already knew that, but you haven’t told them what your handle is on Instagram, Facebook, etc.—you’ve merely implied that you’re on that vast beast of a site somewhere and provided them a crudely drawn map. Don’t make them do the extra work of finding you. After all, you wouldn’t replace your phone number with a phone icon, would you? There are a whole heck of a lot of Instagram handles out there, and you cannot assume that every person will easily find you. If you want their business, make it as easy as humanly possible for them. If you feel it’s worth putting on the business card, then it’s worth typing out the full piece of information. Save the icons for their intended purpose, and you’ll look like a savvy professional.

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