Date
17 July 2018
Facebook has launched a high-end business magazine called Grow in some Western markets, targeting business leaders and corporate executives. Photo: Reuters
Facebook has launched a high-end business magazine called Grow in some Western markets, targeting business leaders and corporate executives. Photo: Reuters

What prompted Facebook to launch a print magazine?

Social networking websites emerged as one of the biggest threats for the print media over the last decade. As mobile device users can access enormous information online via social platforms, there was a question as to why anyone would want to spend money and time on physical publications.

Given this, it was somewhat surprising that Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, quietly launched in June a high-end print magazine called Grow.

Labeled as a “quarterly magazine for business leaders”, the publication seemed to be targeted at senior-level company executives. A vice president of Facebook was in charge of it.

Grow will be mailed to business leaders worldwide for free, and will be available at clubs, five-star hotels, airport lounges, etc. The content will cover business, technology, fashion and other topics.

The magazine appears aimed at the same kind of audience that patronizes business magazines such as Fortune, Forbes, and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Now, this raises questions over the business logic, given that the print media has generally been in a decline, with several titles going digital-only or being shut down altogether.

Grow’s content will appear on its Facebook and Instagram page, so it’s sort of a multi-media brand. Most magazines would launch a print edition first and then expand online. But Grow marks an opposite approach, as an online giant is making a foray into print media.

The print magazine has the beauty of carefully selected content going with nice and clean design. It enables business leaders to absorb good-quality content in a short period of time, according to Facebook.

For example, readers only need to spend one to two hours to read the magazine. And they can obtain good insights into issues related to business, technology and lifestyle.

By contrast, they can spend one or two hours browsing the internet, and still not get too much valuable information.

Grow will not carry any advertising, so it won’t generate any income for the company. Facebook probably views it as a way of diversifying its business apart from the social media website.

Facebook has more than 2 billion users worldwide, but it also has many concerns. The company faces increasingly limited room for gaining new users, and the entertainment-led social media culture may come to a turning point.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with more than 562 million users, is posing a threat to Facebook. Most of LinkedIn users are professionals or business executives.

LinkedIn is enhancing its social networking and news functions. Many business leaders could be spending similar or even longer hours on LinkedIn than they do on Facebook.

Facebook is keen to build a strong brand in the business sector. Part of the motive behind Grow could be the need to lay the ground for an attack on LinkedIn in the future.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 6

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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