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Accessible Social

The No-Fly Zone

5 reasons why flyers don't belong on social media

May 1, 2021
Blue graphic showing line art of a print flyer.

Fun fact about most social media professionals: we hate flyers.

In the age of digital communication, flyers don’t exactly fit in, yet social media managers are constantly asked to publish them online to help promote a variety of events and initiatives.

You may be adamant about your flyer being posted, but there are a number of legitimate reasons why you may be getting pushback from your organization’s social media manager.

Your flyer isn’t accessible

Personally, this is my biggest issue with most flyers that I’m asked to post on social. A flyer created for print typically features a lot of copy. If you’re sending me your flyer as a JPEG or PNG, all that copy was flattened upon being exported which means it no longer registers as readable copy and an assistive device like a screen reader can’t read the text.

In order to make the flyer accessible, all the copy on it will need to be added to the alt text of the image, and that’s a lot of redundant work that could have been avoided if digital-friendly content was created in the first place. There are much better ways to handle flattened copy on social media like making graphics with minimal text on them and linking to a webpage where the info on your flyer is available in a readable format.

Your flyer isn’t on-brand

This point may not be true depending on who created your flyer, but there are many tools out there today that make it easy for anyone—novice or professional—to create their own flyers and graphics. Canva is one of the most popular design platforms currently available, and a lot of people take advantage of how easy it is to use.

However, even if you’re using a sleek pre-packaged template to create your flyer, that doesn’t mean it meets the brand guidelines of your organization. Consistent branding is important, especially when it comes to marketing materials and external communications. It’s better to work with your marketing team to ensure anything you create is on-brand.

Pro-tip: contact your organization’s marketing department as soon as possible if you’re looking to promote something, even if you think that something is minor. As marketing experts, they’ll not only help you create on-brand materials, but also give you guidance about the best methods to employ to reach your goals.

Your flyer isn’t the right size

When you imagine a flyer in your head, what does it look like?

Many people probably visualize a traditional print flyer, which is a sheet of paper 8.5 inches wide and 11 inches tall. Unfortunately, that’s not really an ideal orientation for most social media platforms.

LinkedIn is the only platform that currently allows users to upload PDF files, but Facebook and Twitter prefer images with (or close to) a 16:9 ratio and a square is obviously the best option for the in-feed visuals on Instagram. For a platform’s respective story feature or apps like TikTok, an image or video with a 9:16 ratio is ideal, which is skinnier than an 8.5" x 11" flyer.

The size of your social media assets is important because a good visual can get someone to stop scrolling.

Your flyer isn’t what your audience wants

I get told a lot that “the young audience is on Instagram” and then still get sent flyers to post on the app. This just tells me that a lot of people understand where the “young audience” is but not the kind of content they want.

Flyers are rarely what anyone wants to see when they log onto social media. Think about your own timeline. How often do you actually see a flyer on your social feeds?

On Instagram, straight-up images and graphics designed with the app in mind perform best. Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes videos as well as links from reputable websites, while Twitter users prefer pictures in addition to linked content. Even on LinkedIn, the most buttoned-up of the platforms, text posts and well-crafted visuals perform better than something resembling a flyer.

The algorithms for these platforms also know this, which is why your post featuring a flyer is probably going to do quite poorly compared to content that was created with optimal engagement in mind. Social media users respond to visually appealing content as well as posts that make them think. More than anything, many users just want to be entertained, especially in 2021.

The odds are low that a flyer designed to be stuck to a physical wall will accomplish that.

Your flyer isn’t actionable

This is the item that anyone trying to promote something using a flyer should really be concerned about.

If a flyer was designed for print, it probably features a link or QR code to follow for more information. For flyers promoting an event, there are going to be details about when and where that event takes place.

Even if your flyer was originally a PDF meant to be distributed via email with clickable features, as soon as it's posted to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, or Pinterest as an image, those features lose their functionality. Links can’t be clicked, event information can’t be saved to a calendar, and any QR codes are mostly rendered useless since a user is more than likely viewing social media content on their phone.

Standard flyers just don’t cut it if you want clicks.

Keep your flyers offline

There will undoubtedly always be a need for flyers when it comes to physical marketing efforts. But it’s time for everyone to acknowledge that there’s a difference between designing for print and designing for digital.

If you want to successfully promote your initiative online, consult social media experts who understand the platforms you want to use and the audience you want to reach. More importantly, listen to those experts, respect their recommendations, and trust them to do their jobs.

And please, keep your flyer out of my inbox. I don’t want it.

Headshot of Alexa Heinrich
Alexa Heinrich

Alexa Heinrich is an award-winning social media manager in Central Florida for St. Petersburg College (SPC) and the creator of the wildly popular online account, Social Media Tea. She is a passionate advocate for creating accessible and inclusive content for digital communications as well as educating others about the realities of working in social media.