Social Media Strategist
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Social Media marketing, strategy and professional development blog for Jon-Stephen Stansel, a social media strategist living in Austin, Texas.

The Anatomy of a Terrible Social Media post

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Keep your flyers on the wall and off the web.

by Jon-Stephen Stansel

As a social media manager working in higher education, I get the same request almost everyday. “Will you put this flyer on the university Facebook page?” Unless the request comes from the president’s suite, the answer is always no. Using promotional materials designed for print in the digital space is just a terrible idea. In addition, these flyers, often made in PowerPoint or Microsoft Publisher, are poorly designed to begin with. If putting up flyers around campus isn’t getting students to your events, putting the same flyers on social media isn’t going to help either. The problem is your content, not the medium.

To illustrate this, I created the worst flyer I could imagine with detailed explanations of why each element doesn’t work. Each element comes from something I’ve seen on actual posts made on social media by university departments from around the country. So without further ado, behold the monstrosity:

Pretty awful right? Let’s go into detail exactly why this won’t work on social media or posted in the quad for that matter…

  1. Comic Sans is the Crocs of fonts. We are an institution of higher learning, not a birthday clown you hired for your kid’s party.

  2. This tells me in what year the event will be held, but not in what room it will be held.

  3. See that big watermark that says “shutterstock?” That means it’s a copyrighted image that you aren’t paying for. Also, why are you using stock images when you have a campus full of students and probably have a photo library of photos taken on your campus you can use?

  4. Aside from the terrible font choice, spaces and apostrophes don’t work in hashtags. So the hashtag in this flyer would just be #Generic.

  5. These social media logos are outdated and not the current versions. Also, this doesn’t tell anyone where to find you on social media. Basically, you are just giving free advertising to Facebook.

  6. I can’t click the link on a flyer and there’s no way I’m typing out that URL.

  7. Never skew or alter of your school’s logo. Your university has logo usage guidelines. Find them and follow them.

  8. Clip art is free for a reason. Also, be sure any images you use are high resolution so they are clear and don’t appear pixelated.

  9. QR codes are seldom used and don’t work when viewed on a phone. Not convinced? Watch this.

  10. This is just visual clutter. No one cares and there are better ways to thank your sponsors.

    Other issues not included in the image:

  11. The Facebook algorithm will lower the ranking of text heavy images. Even if this flyer was well designed, hardly anyone would ever see it on Facebook.

  12. Twitter will auto-crop this image, cutting off the most valuable information. The viewer will have to enlarge the image to read it all. They won’t.

  13. If you post this on Instagram, the text will be far to small to read. Also, people go to Instagram to see beautiful images, not poorly designed flyers.

  14. This is not accessible for the visually impaired. eReaders can’t read the text on images.

I could go on and on, you get the idea. The bottom line is keep your flyers on the wall and off the web.