Will that be all?

Although we make it here in the London Ink office, we rarely get to see a copy of J Magazine. It’s printed in Kuwait – home of the client, Jazeera Airways – and they only send us a couple of copies of each issue, which, as soon as they arrive, editor Sakhr Al Makhadhi locks away in his desk. A shame because it’s a great little magazine, with some really interesting and offbeat stories, and fine design by art director Rob Timm. The main feature in the current issue, for example, is on the resurgence in demand for traditional butlers. Inspired, apparently, by recent hit TV show Downton Abbey, butler schools in London have seen a huge spike in intake and still can’t train them up fast enough. The twist is, all these newly graduated flunkies aren’t heading off for England’s stately homes, they’re buffing up the silverware in the palaces of Saudia Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The clever cover is below and if you offer Sakhr a sticky pastry he might let you take a look at the rest of the magazine. (Posted by AndrewH)

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Smile gets social

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Smile magazine has tremendous online presence. The magazine has been on Facebook for a while and a little over a year ago we decided to actively expand our online network. Smile has always had an emotional connection with its readers, nearly 90% of whom are Filipinos, because of a clearly defined base (country, identity). The exercise of expanding the Smile brand beyond the print edition has given us fresh insights about our followers. For instance, when it comes to contests, no prize is too small — it’s getting the most likes that counts.

The journey so far, in numbers:

5,668: Number of current Facebook followers. Over a year ago, this was in the mid-1000s, and we’ve since discovered how to pump steroids into this figure: contests, contests, and more contests. It says a lot about how sweet our followers are — we get the same enthusiastic response whether we’re giving away a hotel stay or a hand sanitizer in a bottle the size of a thumb. We have a page in the printed magazine dedicated to online updates where we put little snippets that tell readers how we’re doing online, and that they might be missing out if they’re not yet in our social network (FOMO, as we all know, is quite a common affliction). It’s also where we announce winners of our online contests.

Online updates

2: Number of times a week our Facebook page gets updated. We like to highlight whatever is in the magazine for the month (especially stories that took an entire village and a lot of nail-biting to put together), so we post website links to those features onto our FB timeline, where it then takes a life of its own and goes viral. It’s usually the people mentioned in a feature who let their friends know they’re in the magazine.

2: Number of times a month we give away freebies on Facebook. Also the number of times the comments box goes nuts with contest entries. (4,568,5675: Number of sunset photos we get whenever we ask followers to send in vacation photos — it might be worth holding a contest for the most plausible explanation for this phenomenon).

10,000: Targeted number of followers on Facebook by October. Unless there’s a way of taking this back from Hugh, but he looked like he’d written it down somewhere on his iPad, in which case, yeah! 10,000! By October! That’s about 5,000 more in 5 months! OMG!

93,587: Unique pageviews for the Smile website, www.cebusmile.com, at the beginning of this year (January 2013). Before this bit of good news courtesy of Google Analytics, graphs were all Klingon to me; now there’s nothing more enjoyable than connecting the blue dots (especially when they go up).

182:  Number of followers on Instagram. We like to keep followers guessing what the next cover destination will be, so we throw a few behind-the-scenes snaps their way while we’re shooting on location. Also we really like how our random snaps just transform with one click of a filter.

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7: Years of Smile by October 2013. So there’s going to be a big party in Manila. You’re all invited

Next up: We’ve partnered up with Cebu Pacific Airlines, which has 891,762 followers on Facebook and gets a million website hits on average a month, to up each other’s site traffic. Every time the airline posts a new promotion (usually something crazy like one-peso fares) on their Facebook page, they do so with a link to a Smile feature on that destination, and their followers are then led to our website or to our Facebook page. (Posted by Tara FT Sering)

A shining example

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There has been a terrific crop of covers coming out of the Ink London office this month. We had easyJet Traveller‘s custom-baked Great British cake and then n by Norwegian‘s hospitalised Scream (see previous posts for both). Now comes Metropolitan‘s neon lips. The lips were an existing piece that art director Christos Hannides spotted when he paid a visit to the workshop of neon artist Chris Bracey (see below). Chris, who has made film-set pieces for Stanley Kubrick and Tim Burton, also did many of the signs for the girly joints and strip clubs of Soho, the subject of the magazine’s cover story. As well as allowing us to borrow his lips, he also custom-made the Metropolitan masthead in neon. Next month, Ryanair magazine constructs its cover from the pelt of baby otters. (Posted by AndrewH)