Every Call To Action Is a Winding Road: How not to integrate social media into print.

Real Simple magazine is one of two print publications I still subscribe to. (The other being Communication Arts.) Real Simple is nicely art directed and is full of tips for the not-so-domestic-goddess that I am.

Over the last few months, the advertisers have been going crazy with QR codes. This ad from Toms’s of Maine Simply White Toothpaste was no exception. But what, exactly do they want me to do?

If It Makes You Happy

First of all, if I like Tom’s of Maine  on Facebook, I’ll get a free download of a Sheryl Crow song. (Yes, the singer fits with the magazine’s demographics.)

Next below, I see a QR code. The call to action reads, “To find out what natural beauty means to Sheryl Crow, scan the mobile barcode with your smart phone.” Then it includes instructions on how to download a QR code reader app, including a url.

Wow, anyone who is so dedicated that they would download an app to read a QR code must be a passionate customer.

Then finally, in smaller print, the reader is invited to find out more about Tom’s on Facebook by clicking on the Sheryl Crow and Simply White tab on the Facebook page.

A Change Would Do You Good.

Threes call to action. That’s an awful lot going on. Just because you include a QR code doesn’t mean you should. A song from Sheryl. Sheryl’s thoughts on natural beauty. Shiny white teeth. What does Tom’s of Maine want me to remember? Social media gives us many options to have conversations with customers, but if we don't limit our options, the conversations just become a bunch of noise.