The simple reason your social media icons are doing nothing


Social Tool

Let’s bring back an important acronym: WIIFM.

It stands for — What’s In It For Me?

That’s the first question I ask every time I see social icons like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Pinterest slapped onto a label, a coffee sleeve, a billboard, the back cover of a magazine, or on a television commercial (nearly always in super-small fine print).

This question is quickly followed by a few more:

What do I do now?
How do I follow or like you?
Whenever I see social icons slapped onto something, I imagine the following scenario:

CEO: WE NEED MORE FOLLOWERS! I keep reading articles saying that social media is hot. Why is nobody following us?

CMO: Great question. Let’s create such compelling content that our fans will be knocking down our virtual doors to follow us! Also, we need to be sure we are clear about what’s in it for them? In other words, why should they follow us? Why should they like us? Oh, and we need to make it easy for them to connect with us. And …

CEO: Hmmm… How much time will that take? We need to get more followers YESTERDAY!

Social Media Expert: How about including the Facebook and Twitter icons in your current marketing collateral?

CEO: Yes! Brilliant. You are the expert. Let’s do it.

CMO: But …

And here is the end result:

Photo Credit: DJ Waldow (iPhone 4S)

Note: This example is from the label on a Lil’ Critters Gummy Vites bottle. I snapped this picture with my iPhone 4S.

The Solution

Okay. I realize that was a bit exaggerated. I also know that I just offended a few CEOs and Social Media Experts. But hopefully you get my point. There are three points to consider when looking at adding these icons to your product or marketing collateral. The first of which is the most important.

  1. If you want more people to connect with you on your social media channels, you must give them a reason (What’s in it for them?).
  2. If you want more people to connect with you on your social media channels, you must make it easy for them to follow and/or like.
  3. If you want more people to connect with you on your social media channels, you must ensure the call it action does not require a magnifying glass to read!

Let’s break down each of those points above using a couple real world examples.

Lil’ Critters Gummy Vites

1. What’s in it for them?

Made in the USA (with flag). Facebook icon. Twitter icon. That’s it? Why should I like this brand on Facebook? Why should I follow it on Twitter? What’s in it for me? Can I expect to see “breaking news” in the gummy vitamin industry? Maybe I’ll get to see pictures of people eating the vitamins? Or maybe – just maybe – you’ll include coupons for discounts on my next purchase of Gummy Vites. Maybe?

2. Did you make it easy?

When I see the example above, I want to click on the icons. My 3-year old daughter, who can navigate my iPhone like a pro, actually has tried to click a Facebook icon on my laptop before. Go figure. Back to this example … what do I do next? How do I like you on Facebook? How do I follow you on Twitter? Where do I go? (hint: What’s the URL?). What do I when I get there?

3. Call to action?

Sure, these icons stand out somewhat, but that’s mostly because they are color pictures while the rest of the copy on this label is black text. However, if you really want to grow your social media following (see comments from made up CEO above), dedicate some more real estate to your social icons!

Sprouts Grocery

As a contrast, let’s ask (and answer) those same questions using a sign I saw at my local Sprouts grocery store here in San Jose, CA.

Sprouts Join Us Sign

First of all, wow. Right?

Take a second to contrast this Sprout sign with the Gummy Vite label above. Night and Day. Black and White. Bad and Great.

The Sprout sign was located at the checkout counter. I was literally pulling out my credit card to pay for my groceries and this sign was just … there. It was impossible to miss.

1. What’s in it for them?

Pretty clear in this sign, huh?


If you go to the Sprouts Facebook page, you’ll see that they are quite active. They also have quite a following (205,000+ likes!).

More importantly, they do everything they promised on the sign. A quick glance on that page shows contests, prizes, coupons, savings, recipes, and tips. The same holds true on the Sprout Twitter page.

That, my friends, is how it’s done.

2. Did you make it easy?

Notice that the sign not only includes the Facebook and Twitter icons, they also include the full link (URL) as well as a QR code. Yes and Yes! For Sprouts especially, this is very important. After all, the URLs are not /sprouts or @sprouts. In fact, its Twitter handle and Facebook username are not even the same. While not ideal, it is what it is. The Sprout sign makes it easier to follow them.

3. Call to action?

Did I mention where this sign is located?


Again, it’s nearly impossible to overlook it. The only thing that would have made this sign better would have been if the grocer had pointed to it while I was paying and said, “Do you follow us on Twitter? Do you like us on Facebook? If not, here’s why you should …”

At this point, I’m hoping you are emailing to your Social Media Expert and telling them to copy what Sprout is doing.

Go. Do that now. Then come back and leave a comment.


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