With magazines and newspapers steadily gravitating towards the app world, and eBooks growing in popularity every day, you could be forgiven for thinking that print is on the way out. But four new monthly magazines dedicated to Twitter, Facebook, Google and LinkedIn would suggest otherwise.
Published by GSG World Media, Tweeting & Business, fb & Business, The Big G & Business and LI & Business are aimed at helping business owners harness the power of the social sphere, and the publications – released last Monday – have some pretty prominent and well regarded people at the helm. One of the founders is Eric Yaverbaum, who wrote Public Relations For Dummies, which is required reading in marketing classes at 57 universities in the United States, and he appears regularly on Fox News, CBS This Morning, The Today Show and CNN. Whilst Jeffrey W. Hayzlett, the former CMO for Kodak, is the editor of the new Twitter magazine.
So have these magazines deliberately shunned the digital world for print? Well, no. They are all available for free via a digital subscription too. But they are also available to buy for $7.95 each from Office Depot stores in the US, as the New York Times reports.
At almost 8 dollars per magazine, it’s not entirely clear how many they hope to sell, especially when readers can just as easily access all the content for free, but the initial print run will amount to 250,000 copies. Yaverbaum said:
“Small-business owners and entrepreneurs are all trying to figure social media out. Print magazines help make the information accessible to them. There will be great success stories and useful information.”
What this fails to address is that many small businesses are facing tough financial times, and smartphones and tablets are booming, with many preferring to access content in digital formats. So can print magazines – on topics relating to the digital realm – still flourish? With so many digital social media advice columns, articles and blogs available online for free, I’d say there is a limited shelf life for such endeavors.
Back in August, the Cool Blue Company also launched a social media print magazine called The Social MediaMonthly, which it called at the time “the World’s First Printed Social Media Magazine”. So are we starting to see a buck in the trend of magazines shifting over to the digital realm? Or are these short-lived fads?
To use The Social Media Monthly as an example, it has a $34.99 annual subscription fee in the US for the print edition, or $29.99 for the iPad edition, so it doesn’t replicate its content for free in digital. If the quality is good enough, and enough fresh content and features are brought to the table, it could perhaps build a solid core of readers.
With the four new publications from GSG World Media, there’s no real incentive to buy hard copies. Plus, they’ve chosen to separate their social media publications by channel, rather than encompassing them all into one magazine as The Social Media Monthly has done. Do businesses really just want to focus on one social channel? If not, they’re faced with forking out $32 a month to learn about things they can also choose to read for free.
There’s little question there is still demand for print – people still like to leaf their way through magazines and books. But with so much content available in digital format for nothing, it’s difficult to see how these latest social media mags can seriously hope to cash in through their print editions.