While virtual business cards are becoming a viable alternative to paper cards, there is still a huge demand for traditional business cards.
When you meet someone, it is very unlikely that they will first ask to bump, DUB or get LinkedIn. Instead, as your meeting comes to an end, you'll find yourself searching around in your pockets, bag or wallet for your trusty paper business card.
While the traditional business card trend is still going strong, you may want to consider optimizing the space on that little piece of paper.
A growing number of professionals are finding it useful to include social media links on their business cards. Including social links on your card not only showcases your progressive approach to doing business, but it also gives your business contacts more choices in how they communicate with you.
If you are looking for new ways of promoting your social media presence, this list of social media friendly business cards will put you on the right track.
Sometimes simple is best. If you tend to focus most of your social media efforts on one social network, you may want to keep it simple by only printing your information for that particular network.
The design of your card will benefit from the simplicity, and you'll have more space for other features, like a social icon that identifies you. For example, the team at Medialets uses an iPhone design that can easily be customized to fit each employees' needs. Creative Director Theo Skye chooses to stick with his tried and true Twitter handle and profile picture.
The folks over at MapQuest seem to be big fans of minimalism, too. I like what Senior Product Manager Josh Babetski has done. He includes his AIM screen name for chatting, along with a message that you can find him on many online communities as "quixado".
I performed a quick Google search for "quixado". Sure enough, the first results included his profiles on Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Brightkite, Plancast, and Viddler. Babetski's blog even showed up. Who knew a simple mention on a business card would yield so many results?
Displaying Lots of Options
As an alternative to keeping it simple, you can always vote to go with "the more, the merrier" approach. If you tend to be active on multiple networks, by all means, load 'em up.
Amanda Wormann, social media manager at Burton, decided to promote the company's social media efforts by listing their corporate Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts on her business card. While this type of campaign can't necessarily be tracked, it's a good way to get the word out among new business acquaintances.
Along with listing a variety of social sites on your card, you may also choose to use social media icons to add a level of familiarity and recognizability to your links. Jessy Yancey, managing editor for Tennesee Home & Farm, includes the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube links for the magazine on her card. When Jessy handed me her card, the social icons were the first images to catch my eye. Visuals are always a great way to direct the eye. Keep that in mind as you design your next business card.
Publicizing Your Blog
It is common for businesses to print their websites on company business cards, but blog links aren't so prevalent. In a lot of cases a blog link can be more useful than a corporate website, because a blog has the ability to show the personalities, ideas and happenings behind an organization.
Sweetriot Mastermind and Chief Rioter (AKA Founder and CEO), Sarah Endline, includes links to the Sweetriot blog and Twitter account, where she and her team blog and tweet regularly. These links add a personal touch to her business card.
Presenting Personal and Professional Information
One of the conflicts with creating a business card, social links in tow or not, is finding the balance between personal and professional information.
Should you include your Twitter account or the corporate Twitter account? Do you need your cell phone number, or will the office phone suffice? Is it too self-promotional to include a link to your personal blog, or would it be better to just stick with a link to the corporate website?
These are all valid questions, and each company will need to find their own comfortable balance.
Here is some food for thought. Why not just keep it 50/50? Tony Bacigalupo, founder of coworking space New Work City, had that balance in mind when he opted to create a business card that paired personal and professional contact information, creating a most pleasantly symbiotic result.
This approach seems to work best for entrepreneurs and business people who maintain an active professional life online, communicating through both personal and corporate channels.
Getting Geeky with QR Codes
Distinctive business cards present the opportunity to leave acquaintances with a lasting impression.
At a conference, for example, a single person may receive hundreds of business cards. After a few days of meeting people, faces and names can become a bit hazy. An accumulating stack of business cards can sometimes seem more like a useless collection than a resourceful base of connections.
On the positive side, there are often a few cards that stand out. Most often the outliers utilize high quality paper, attractive designs, or technology. Recently, some of the cards that have caught my eye are the ones that use Quick Response (QR) codes, two-dimensional codes that can be scanned by smartphone cameras to automatically pull up text, photos, videos, music and URLs.
The first business card utilizing a QR code that I encountered was that of Jonathan Lazar, creator of Live Tweets. Lazar displays his Twitter handle along with a QR code that leads to his company's website.
David Fell's business card is my favorite QR code implementation so far. When I scanned the code with i-nigma, my preferred QR code scanner for iPhone, Fell's name, telephone number, e-mail address and Twitter account appeared, with the options to save his information to my contacts or dial his number. Having a QR code pull up contact information is one of the most appropriate and useful executions for business networking.
Promoting Events and Products
Another way to promote your social media efforts around a product, event or campaign is to print your social links in a business card format to hand out at parties and events. At their Post-Mashable Media Summit After-Mash Party, interactive marketing agency Definition 6 invited guests to take photos in front of a snazzy step-and-repeat, and then distributed a business card with links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, where the photos would be uploaded and announced, respectively. I admit that I checked back daily until I found my step-and-repeat photo.
During Internet Week New York this year, HP maintained a microsite with IWNY news and a Twitter hashtag (#hpiwny). At events, they distributed a business card with their Twitter, Flickr, microsite and hashtag information. The card was a handy way to convey all of their appropriate social media agenda surrounding the IWNY festivities.
Emulating Social Site Designs
There are many ways to highlight social media links on your business card, and then there is something totally different: reproducing the social site on your business card. While it may not be the best option for most companies, emulating a social site design is a great idea for social sites themselves.
I was pleasantly surprised when MySpace Account Executive Adriana Forni handed me her card at the Social Media Brasil conference. Seeing the iconic MySpace profile page printed on her card was a bit nostalgic, and it automatically had me thinking about the brand.
You don't have to work for a social media company to enjoy a business card designed to resemble your social profile for a particular site.
Designer Jean-Baptiste Gouraud had no qualms about designing his Internet-famous Facebook-inspired business card. In an e-mail conversation, Gouraud mentioned that he was interested in producing the cards on a mass scale, with Facebook's blessing, of course.
Someday, you may be able to easily customize one of these Facebook cards for your own use.
Does your business card reflect your social side? If so, include a link in the comments below!