Written by Sheraan Amod, CEO of Personera

With Graph Expo around the corner, PSPs are looking forward to the unveiling of new exciting products and technologies that can help their businesses grow. One area of the industry that is constantly receiving attention these days is the photo products space, and for good reason!

The market for photo merchandise will grow from $2.8 billion in 2010 to $6.6 billion in 2013 (IDC estimate). This encompasses products customized with photos, such as calendars, cards, photobooks, and posters. According to the Promotional Productions Association International, the promotional products industry grew 5.9% to $16.6 billion in 2010.

With high performance digital color presses such as the Xerox iGen and Color 800/100 Press, PSPs finally have the technology at their disposal to become players in the photo products game. The ability to print personalized products with high quality photo graphics using on demand production methods is easier than ever before.

If digital color presses are the hammers in this model, then software solutions are the nails. PSPs that are also Marketing Service Providers (MSPs) should be carefully considering software applications that successfully bring together photo-based products and VDP technology, giving them something new and compelling to sell to their customers. Whether it’s a local church or college, national sports team, or big corporate, all manner of organizations today are seeking out new promotional and custom products that allow them to engage with their customers or fans, and even earn revenue at the same time.

So, how does social media fit in? First we should ask a different question: where are the photos and data stored these days? Social networks! With over 600 million users, Facebook has become the world’s largest photo database, with around 100 billion photos stored. In one month Facebook gets 6 billion new photos uploaded- more than the entire size of Flickr. Software applications can tap into this database and not only pull out photo data, but other content such as birthdays, events and demographic info as well. Facebook isn’t the only mega source of data either- social networks such as LinkedIn and Instagram are potential goldmines.

By effectively transforming an end consumer’s social network content, instant product personalization becomes possible. It’s only a matter of time before social media based applications for custom print products take off. And for the PSPs and MSPs, that means that there is money to be made.

By now you might be itching to see a concrete example of how a true social media software application for MSPs might look. In partnership with Xerox, Personera will be showcasing its Facebook-based personalized calendar solution at Graph Expo. These calendars are highly branded products that integrate an end consumer’s Facebook photos, birthdays and events. You can see the demo application for Graph Expo on the Xerox Digital Print fan page here.

We are giving away 50 free calendars for attendees of Graph Expo, so feel free to order one online now using the voucher code “xerox50“, and you can pick it up from us at the Xerox social media booth at the event.

We look forward to seeing you at Graph Expo, and continuing the conversation on social media and print!