In the United Kingdom and Northern Europe, Facebook is launching a customer marketing program called Grow. Targeting business leaders, the ongoing program will include a quarterly print magazine and access to a special invitation-only event.
Wait! Did I just say “print magazine”? Yes, but Grow isn’t a magazine, according to Facebook; it’s a marketing program. But because Facebook didn’t include a print magazine in its initial announcement, reporters have made that the focus of their coverage.
I think Facebook is correct in describing Grow as the brand of a marketing program, and not just a magazine. Five years ago, in a longform post on the Hammock Idea Blog, I explored the roles magazines play as (1) a business model limited to ads and subscription revenue and (2) a medium that deepens relationships with customers or members and supports a business model such as an association or university.
What Facebook is doing is savvy. It demonstrates how to use the power of a direct-to-customer magazine within the context of a broader marketing strategy. It’s more than a magazine, but it probably wouldn’t work without the magazine component.
Bottomline | Facebook will be using multiple media channels to reach an audience critical to its long-term success. Selling ads in a niche magazine is not Facebook’s reason for developing Grow. Facebook’s goal is to position the company as the dominant thought leader among an audience of corporate executives or government leaders. It’s not a program playing a magazine business model. It’s a magazine supporting and protecting the core business model of Facebook.