GRAPHIC.LY Targets New Comics Readers Through FACEBOOK

Facebook has revolutionized the way marketers promote products to mainstream audiences. And now, digital comics have joined the fold, as digital comic distributor Graphic.ly makes yet another move toward marketing comics to a mainstream audience.

Graphic.ly, the distributor and e-reader software company, is now offering creators and publishers the opportunity to install comics on their "fan" pages on Facebook. The free Graphic.ly Facebook application, which is available at apps.facebook.com/graphicly, allows comic creators, publishers and fans to expose their friends and family to their hobby in a whole new way.

"If you're a comic fan, you can now show your affinity to a particular publisher, creator or story by just adding it to your Facebook page," Graphic.ly CEO Micah Baldwin told Newsarama. said. "What's nice is that it shows up in everybody's news stream. So for example, if I go to Top Cow and click on Witchblade, it shows up in my stream and all of my friends see that I like Witchblade, and literally with one click, they're now reading Witchblade. It's a great way to attract the non-comic reading fan."

This isn't the first time Graphic.ly has made headlines in its efforts to market digital comics online. In 2010, the company purchased iFanboy, the online comic fan-networking site. Yet according to Baldwin, the overlap audience the company expected from iFanboy didn't quite come through the way Graphic.ly expected.

"We bought iFanboy almost two years ago, with the intent that we'd be able to convert a lot of people who were reading iFanboy into Graphic.ly users. But the truth is that a pretty small percentage of iFanboy readers are Graphic.ly users directly," he said. "The majority of iFanboy readers are part of the regular fan-base, and our digital comics tend to attract the non-comic book collector."

Now that Graphic.ly has made this move toward Facebook, Baldwin is hoping to attract more new readers to digital comics through the indie and small publishers that are partnered with Graphic.ly. "We've done a great job of attracting the independent creator and small press. We've got 275 publishers in our system, and over 4,000 creators, in the system, all that have produced works that you know and some works you've probably never heard of," he said.

"The vast majority of our users are not comic book collectors," Baldwin said. "Those two things in combination really got us thinking about what was important. And we decided to develop a set of tools that help our creators and publishers make sure their stories get seen. And the biggest behemoth out there in that world is Facebook. Why shouldn't we bring comic books to 800 million people?"

Readers can now add comics to their Facebook news stream by adding the new app to their tools, then "liking" any of the comics available through Graphic.ly. Use of Graphic.ly's Facebook app also interacts with a fan's profile by automatically adding the "liked" comics to a person's list of "books."

Baldwin said the Facebook comic app is less about promoting Graphic.ly and more about allowing the industry to promote comics to a mainstream audience. "The key is that it's not about Graphic.ly at all," Baldwin said. "The branding is all about you. You can't even really tell that it's Graphic.ly when you look at it. It's all about going to your brand to download your comic on your fan page."

Baldwin also said the Facebook app streamlines the process of marketing comic books. "One of the problems publishers have is that they're often putting digital comics in several different places. For example, if you're Top Cow, and you have books on Graphic.ly and comiXology and iVerse and 40 other places, when you market the book, you list all these places where you can buy the book," he said. "Now, you can just put your Facebook page on there. You've already got information about Top Cow on your Facebook page, and you can also have your comics on there for people to read. And it creates an affinity with your Facebook presence for your reader."

To market the Facebook reader, Graphic.ly worked in conjunction with many of its existing partners, including Archaia, Red 5 Comics and Top Cow, but anyone can use the application. So far, more than 50 publishers and creators have utilized it.

"What we hope to do in the future is really get the app to be truly integrated in its design, so you can design your Facebook page around the application, so it's very much about your comics," Baldwin said. "It allows you to put more marketing messages around it, so it can be used as an even stronger marketing tool."

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