"Chiclets" are the ubiquitous little squares you see on websites, carrying the logos of various social media tools and RSS feeds. They're named after the brand of chewing gum that comes in small pillow-shaped pieces (photo below). Internet chiclets make it easy for site visitors to subscribe to your blog, become your Facebook fan, follow your Twitter feed, and interact with you online in a number of ways.
Chiclets are multiplying across the Internet. Originally, they were limited to the orange "broadcast signal" button signifying an RSS subscription. (RSS was one of the very first things I wrote about when Alumni Futures launched in early 2007).
Now, organizations provide a chiclet for following them on every social platform where they have an account (the samples accompanying this article come from various websites). The most popular are F (Facebook), IN (LinkedIn), and T (Twitter).
The problem with these buttons is that the content doesn't always live up to the promise. In the last week I've seen a non-profit with a Flickr chiclet, but no photos uploaded in the last 5 months; an alumni association linking to a Twitter account which it has never used; and a college annual fund asking me to add them to my Gmail page with Google Buzz.
Making it easy to follow your content across the social web is smart. But remember: you need a social media component in your communication strategy, to ensure that your content actually appears on social sites. Go ahead and design some attractive chiclets, but figure out how you can actually use social platforms to reach your target audiences.
Chiclets are delicious, but they're not a communication strategy.