French idea lets you read social media family news in print format

Printed compilation of online activity keeps older generation in touch

The 'social media newspaper' has proved a hit with grandparents
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A French company has hit on a winning formula with personalised newspapers aimed at grandparents, which offer a monthly round-up of family members’ social media posts.

The idea for Petit Potin came to founder Mathieu Ruhlmann when one of his grandmothers moved into a retirement home and started feeling isolated.

“I set up a group of cousins on social media to organise visits and things for her, and from that the idea came of printing out the various posts in the group and giving them to her in paper form because she’s never liked mobile phones,” he told The Connexion.

“The cousins talked to other people and they started to ask me to do the same for them, and the idea grew that it was something I could do professionally.”

He set up the company in Strasbourg in 2020, and now sends out “several hundred thousand” newspapers by post every month.

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“At its core is a dedicated social media site for family members only,” he said.

“People who might be wary of putting family events on the big platforms can use it to share photos and news, without charge.

“Then, for a fee, our platform converts these to print out like a newspaper or magazine, on good-quality paper. They are then sent out to the grandparents, or to numerous addresses if desired.”

He said that as the company grew, it became obvious it was not just elderly people unfamiliar with smartphones and computers who were getting the newspapers.

“People are starting to realise that although they take and receive many more photographs now than ever before, they are starting to lose them because organising a computer file takes time and is boring,” he said.

“But if they get something printed on paper they can look at it and enjoy it, and then put it in a box or a cupboard and know where it is to find it again – like the old photograph albums we used to have. With Petit Potin, of course, along with the photos they also get comments and news which goes with them.”

Use of the application is free, and most people use it on their mobile phones rather than desktops.

Read more: French company develops 3D baby scans for blind parents-to-be

Print cost

To print and send the newspaper to an address in France costs €6.50 a month, or an annual payment of €70.

For international delivery, prices are €8.50 a month or €85 annually.

“Most of the newspapers sent overseas are written by French people working abroad, who have parents or grandparents in France,” said Mr Ruhlmann.

“But we have newspapers sent out in all sorts of languages. We do not edit them at all.”

The application is currently only available in French, but he hopes to have a German version available soon and is considering an English version too.

“Germany is easy for us in Strasbourg as we can walk there, and printers there work in a similar way to French ones,” he said.

“The English language one is a bit more complicated but we are working on it.”