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Facebook embraces print

Published Jun 25, 2018 – By Martin MacConnol


When we were trend-spotting at the beginning of the year with clients, one hotspot we identified was the resurgence of print. We believe that while the future is digital, paper is enjoying a resurgence at this time.

So, it’s nice to get a confirmation of our accuracy in trend-spotting from no less an authority than Facebook. Just this month the social media platform has announced the launch of a new glossy magazine, Grow: “a quarterly magazine for thought leaders.” The magazine, which will be available to business leaders in first-class airport lounges, is part of a new thought-leadership marketing programme by Facebook encompassing print, digital, events and podcasts.

For some people, the decision to embrace print by one of the biggest digital companies in the world, a business predicated on the idea of online connectivity, will seem a little strange. Wasn’t Facebook meant to be an agent of print destruction?

But for us at Wardour, the decision is an obvious one, and just another example that shows print has a good life ahead of it (qv AirBnB’s recent launch of its own print magazine).

There are many reasons why Facebook’s decision is a good one. Some boil down to the experience you get from a print publication: so much more calming and immersive than the endless pop-ups and flashing ads of online. 10 years on from the launch of the iPhone, we all find them a little exhausting.

And of course, print is truly portable and ‘always-on’. A print magazine is still on your coffee table or bedside drawer after you have put it down – a living brand reminder. Whereas when you bounce off a digital magazine page the brand experience is over.

But there are bigger issues than this at play. We live in a world of fake news. So often now when we see an extraordinary video online, or a bizarre headline, we question “is it true?”. Our confidence in the honesty of digital content is at an all-time low. It’s so hard to verify what is information and disinformation and so easy for a faker to create a digital lie.

Not so with print. There is something about the effort involved in production, the physical permanence of the medium, which makes it feel implicitly more trustworthy. Add to that the expense. It’s cheap to make a fake online story, and expensive to create a print lie.

At Wardour we’ve always known the virtues of print. Yes, digital has undoubtedly changed what print is about. Because of its cost compared to digital, print publications are now premium products for engaging targeted audiences. The mass-market commodity is now digital.

But digital has not killed off print and while we delight in creating online publications for clients, we also know that print titles will be a key output for many years to come.

So, welcome to the party Facebook: it’s good to see that even a disruptor is prepared to admit it can learn from one of the sectors it is helping to transform.

If you would like to talk to us about your thought-leadership marketing, print magazines, stakeholder or employee communications, please drop us a line: hello@wardour.co.uk

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