Facebook and the power of print

By Jo Francis, Friday 17 August 2018

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Jo Francis says that it is super-significant that online giant Facebook has turned to old media to get an important message across.

Back in June I was heading to the continent to see some new print tech, and while leafing through BA’s inflight business magazine I came across a supplement bound into the middle of it.

This turned out to be Grow, a magazine about thought leadership produced by Facebook. The supplement was a taster of the full magazine which is, apparently, available in British Airways business lounges at Heathrow and Gatwick and has been sent out as a marketing piece.

Not being a lounge type of traveller, I’m yet to see the standalone product, but it piqued my interest that Facebook had chosen to turn to the power of print to put this particular message across.

Grow was published just after the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal hit peak outrage, and in her welcome message to the taster edition Facebook’s EMEA boss Nicola Mendelsohn continued the rolling-around-on-the-carpet-in-remorse theme, taking “a moment to acknowledge recent events” and pledging to “take meaningful steps to guard against those who abuse our platform”.

Over the intervening weeks, something else has been notable. It seems I can’t open a newspaper or magazine, or indeed pass a bus stop, without seeing Facebook’s ‘Fake news is not our friend’ campaign.

They must be spending an eye-watering amount on it, and, who knows, maybe Facebook is single-handedly responsible for the recent uplift in newspaper advertising.

It’s hugely significant that Facebook has turned to ‘old’ media, and trusted publishing channels to get this message across, when its own platform was facing so much distrust.

This is something for the industry at large to take note of, a jewel of a fact that is not so much fake news as excellent news.

Facebook has handed printed media high-profile validation for the communication of important messages – in times of crisis or not. We should make the most of it.

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