Facebook – Print and online hand in hand
1.6 billion people. This is how many people are on Facebook every day. Among other things, they share holiday snaps, add a «Like» to the life events of friends – or find out about upcoming events. And some join together in groups that share a common passion. Such as a love for the city they live in. In these groups, members exchange tips and share information on cultural programs, the local gastronomic scene or the city’s architectural must-sees. Even locals discover new facets of «their» city.
Facebook has recently ventured into new territory, namely: the world of print media. As a few weeks ago, the Facebook Zurich City Guide appeared in the Swiss newspaper, the «Tages-Anzeiger». The idea behind it is summed up by the authors in the foreword to the guide. They state: «we have created this Community City Guide together with people who regularly exchange ideas about Zurich in local Facebook groups and who are always finding new places to go. Zurich has much to offer. You get insights and insider tips for beautiful and exciting places within the city and can rediscover Zurich from the perspective of five different Facebook groups, based on the motto: <from the community, for the community>».
«Reverse» Digital Transfer
With its users, Facebook is transferring local know-how from the digital world to the real world by relying on good old-fashioned paper. This process is a kind of reverse digital transformation. More and more tasks, processes and content are being digitized worldwide. Therefore, Facebook – as one of the leading tech companies – is transforming digital content into «analog» content.
«We are using it to demonstrate how people don’t just network on our platform. They also interact with each other in real life», explains Johannes Prüller, Communications Manager at Facebook for Switzerland and Austria. Digital encounters that started out on Facebook groups are turning into real-life ones. In order to reach even more people, the Zurich City Guide has been published as a print supplement. «For us, <paper> is a rather unusual medium. But in our opinion it has some exciting advantages, – explains Prüller. You can simply stick the guide in your backpack and explore the area without having to hold your smartphone all the time.»
The idea for a printed Cities Special is by no means limited to Zurich. City guides for Leipzig and Stuttgart have already been published in German-speaking countries. 12 Guides have been published worldwide, including St. Petersburg, Oslo and Bordeaux – always one in English and one in the respective local language. According to Johannes Prüller, further guides have not been ruled out. «If any exciting interactions take place in the local groups, we’ll see if we can make another city guide out of it.»
A New Cycle
Facebook’s approach is significant for several reasons. And it could even serve as an example to other social media and online platforms. It is well known that «user generated content» (UGC), i.e. content created by the users of a platform, enjoys particularly high credibility with other users / recipients. By bringing this UGC from local Facebook groups to a larger and broader audience via a public medium, you don’t only create additional reader benefits, but also strengthen your own credibility within the target groups. And this is one of the main pillars of Content Marketing.
But the City Guide idea doesn’t end here. Once the guide has been published as a supplement, it is then published digitally on a separate website. Each individual article is directly linked to the original local Facebook group from which the content of the text originates.
As such, the content from these groups not only makes the leap from online to print. It then returns to the digital world. This then leads to an increase in the amount of people joining the groups, thanks to readers of the City Guide. New content can then emerge from this larger Facebook group, which in turn can be distributed in print form. In doing so, Facebook has created a cycle that connects the real world with the digital world in a unique way. And this proves that print in the online age is anything but dead. Rather, the two formats can each be an asset for the other.
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