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Graphic Arts Companies on Social Media: Using Digital Platforms to Get People Excited About an Analog Medium

Graphic arts companies also need to use their presence on digital platforms for customer relations, image cultivation and to promote their own sense of unity, even though they produce analog products in the form of printed magazines, catalogs, books and newspapers. A typical example of this is the long-standing Muller Martini customer B&K Offsetdruck GmbH in Ottersweier, Germany, which presents itself on six different social media channels with two/three posts per week.
First just Facebook and Twitter, later also LinkedIn, Xing, Instagram and TikTok – B&K has been active in social media for eleven years. "We want to get people excited about an analog medium by means of digital platforms, because our customers are also on the social media channels. In doing so, we see ourselves as idea providers," says Alena Kalbhenn (center), member of the board.

B&K is active on six social media channels.

Informing customers, sensitizing the labor market
Customers are the one target group B&K is aiming for. Content about unique print products, special finishing options, new technologies and machines, and interesting specialist topics are posted regularly. The aim is to stimulate interest in the company beyond the confines of the graphic arts industry. Readers are often reached in a relaxed atmosphere because they usually see the posts during their lunch break or in the evening after work.
Important addressees are – keywords skilled worker shortage and personnel recruitment – but also potential new employees, to whom the printing industry is made palatable in particular via the channels Instagram and TikTok, which are popular with the younger generation (keyword: target group targeting). B&K uses paid advertising to reach specific target groups.
Also important: internal impact
Last but not least, B&K also uses social media to strengthen the "we"-feeling within the company. For example, B&K news says goodbye to retiring employees, announces company anniversaries and posts other people stories. "Social media presence significantly shapes the company image and has both an external and an internal effect," Alena Kalbhenn emphasizes. It is not uncommon for suggestions for posts to come from the workforce. "There is a certain momentum by means of word-of-mouth advertising. Our employees appreciate being regularly informed about the company and share the posts with friends," Alena Kalbhenn notes.
She forms the editorial team for the digital platforms at B&K together with Simone Schätzle (assistant sales manager/right in picture) and Wolfram Oertel (sales manager/left in picture). If they were to add up the hours they spend on social media, it would easily be equivalent to a full-time position. The three of them meet every month, decide what to post and where, and are also responsible for the final wording, layout and quality assurance. They create most of the content themselves, but also use external copywriters. They mainly make videos with their smartphones. "That has a much more authentic effect on social media," emphasizes Simone Schätzle.
Positive response
All posts appear in German and are therefore primarily aimed at people in the three German-speaking countries of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. B&K does not rank which types of posts attract the most interest. "However, job ads and B&K news are shared the most," Wolfram Oertel knows from experience. And he adds in the same breath: "We often get positive feedback from our customers or suppliers – be it general compliments on our super presence or on the quality of our posts."
Social media as an additional sales channel
On the one hand, Facebook & Co. increase traffic to the modern B&K website with a call-to-action button, but on the other hand, they are definitely sales-enhancing. "Social media channels have become an important part of our sales force and are now an additional sales channel," Wolfram Oertel emphasizes.
B&K continues to advertise in traditional, i.e. printed form – for example, with customer mailings. But Simone Schätzle is convinced "that social media is an indispensable channel in the marketing mix and an indispensable complement to other PR measures. We generate maximum benefit from it."
Among its major advantages, she counts the mass of people it can reach, its speed, its ability to address specific target groups, and its attractive forms of presentation (with videos, for example). "I therefore assume that multi-channel marketing will also become more important for a traditional company like ours in the future. To what extent, however, also depends on how the various channels develop."
B&K at a glance
  • Founded: 1969.
  • Employees: 230 (24/5, classic three-shift model).
  • Customers: 85 % Germany/Austria/Switzerland, 15 % rest of Europe.
  • Portfolio: saddle stitching (main focus), softcover, hardcover. Large print runs are printed on the presses, and (partly individualized and personalized) run 1 products – for example, training materials or preprints – are also printed on the digital presses. B&K also offers media mix and store solutions for companies outside the graphic arts industry.
  • Machines from Muller Martini: 3 saddle stitchers – Primera PRO (6 flat pile feeders/1 cover feeder), Primera E140 (8 flat pile feeders/1 cover feeder), Primera C140 (4 flat pile feeders/1 cover feeder).
Fantastic Figures on B&K
  • 80 million A4 pages printed per day
  • 6.5 million folds per day
  • 1.5 million stitchings per day
  • 275 pallets of finished printed products per day
  • 40,000 tons of printed paper per year
  • 430 tons of printing inks per year
  • 200 tons of varnish per year
  • 60,000 printing plates per year
Learn more about B&K in this video (in German).