Author: Simon Leslie

So why has Facebook turned to the Travel Media space with a print magazine?

If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery (Oscar Wilde), then we have just received the biggest uplifting windy blow of positive smoke the world has ever known.

Wait for it: the globe’s largest digital (social) media company, Facebook, has just launched a paper magazine, and to top this off, they have chosen to distribute it in the powerful travel media space – specifically, airport lounges – to ensure that they get into the hands of the world’s “business leaders”.

Heard this travel media story before somewhere? Cough, cough, cough.

Let’s add some more scoops of delicious icing onto this spectacularly magazine-shaped cake, shall we? They have (in all seriousness) named their publication Grow. Now, just in case there are any doubters out there, Grow most probably isn’t referring to the 583 million fake profiles that Facebook recently took down, it’s more likely to be a reflection of how they see this “high-end” magazine market going. But who knows? I’m just guessing.

When all of that positive smoke clears, it’s pretty obvious to see that Facebook has gone out of its way to deliberately choose print in the travel space to get the maximum impact that it needs. And trust me, it will work well from them in practical terms – if not PR.

 We salute you for doing this and thank you for proving, once and for all, that travel media reigns supreme and stands out head and shoulders above all other media platforms today. Ironically inflight media is expected to DOUBLE in size in the next two decades** as more (real) people take to the skies. That is what we call “Growing”. What do you make of that, Facebook bot farms?

Facebook has chosen the successful free-to-consumer strategy that all inflight magazines follow, but they say they are not a magazine…? How odd.

"Grow by Facebook is a business marketing program that shares thought leadership content directly with our clients through an annual event as well as print and online marketing channels," Leila Woodington, Facebook's head of business marketing for Northern Europe, said in a statement. "We do not sell any advertising or charge for any of the events or content as this is purely intended for marketing communications purposes."

It’s a mag, one that is available in British Airways lounges. Your own tagline on the cover reads: "A quarterly magazine for business leaders." You are publishing a magazine. You are a publisher. Get over yourselves. And while I am on the soap box, you are a media company too – just because you put the word “social” in front of it, doesn’t mean that you are not a media company and should be fully regulated as such and take responsibility for what you “publish”. Or maybe Vice “magazine” put this rather better.

For keen viewers of the media market, Facebook is merely following fellow “digital companies” Airbnb and Net-a-Porter in launching a paper magazine, but we should remember that we live in a world where Amazon recently moved into bricks and mortar retail space – go figure “digital companies”.

So, let me recap with three simple points. According to Facebook:

1. Travel media is their chosen place to reach “business leaders”

2. Print is a strong way to “Grow your business. Grow your network. Grow your mind”

3. Travel media is the key place for large brands to feel comfortable and succeed

Thank you, Facebook. I LIKE that.

UPDATE (25/09/28)

Salesforce CEO, Mark Benioff, and his wife have purchased TIME Magazine for $190m. Benioff stated they have invested "in a company with tremendous impact on the world, one that is also an incredibly strong business. That’s what we’re looking for when we invest as a family." The trend of investing in print continues...

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** Airline passenger numbers will double in size by 2035 (2016: 3.8bn air passengers 2035: 7.2bn IATA)