Every movement begins with a moment.
The rumors were true! Facebook has rolled out Paper, a stand-alone mobile newsreader app, and it is quite stunning.
In a content-boosting move, Paper multiplies Facebook’s single news feed by 20. Users can arrange these feeds in any order, and they can choose from a variety of categories (Headlines, Tech, Pop Life, Cute, Food, etc.). If you’re a fan of the original Facebook news feed, don’t fret: It’s among Paper’s 20 options. But if you prefer not to view it, you can simply push it to the end of the news stack. However organized, each feed features a curated mix of recent and popular posts from the brand pages of Facebook’s most viewed publications.
Paper’s responsiveness is impressive. Users simply swipe on a content card to see that article seamlessly unfold. Paper is also extremely interactive. Users actually swipe left and right to scroll from one feed to the next, rather than the standard up and down navigation. Along with swiping, users can pinch and zoom, which creates an extremely reactive mobile experience. New content cards swoop in as they are posted and status updates quickly fly — one letter at a time — off the screen when shared.
In addition to sharing content, users can also like, comment and even save articles to read later using numerous apps (Instapaper, Pocket, Pinboard, etc.). Aside from serving up news, Paper provides access to more general Facebook functions (groups, events, notifications, messages and friend requests). Users can also generate posts, view friends' photos, interact with pages, etc.
As with the Facebook news feed, we will never know the “Paper algorithm.” Great content that matches a specific category might get your brand in the news feed. As of now, it seems that Paper is not so much choosing content as it is sorting it — specifically by popularity. Something akin to Facebook’s promoted posts may be a future development that brands could leverage. For now, brands only have access to the Facebook news feed section of Paper. While specific news sources and general interest fan pages have been included in the categorized Paper sections, no general brand content has been included (even if it does match the category).
Also notable, Facebook is allowing brands to keep their branding with custom crafted story/content cards. While each card has a consistent layout (full-sized image,headline and link), publishers’ content still appears as it would on their respective sites, branding included.
The currently unlimited number of news stories on Paper, as well as the ability to personalize the app and bring other categories to the forefront, will make it more difficult for brand content to stand out. Because of this, we naturally suspect that a paid Paper offering will be coming soon. What better way to elevate brand content (and generate a little revenue in the process)?
While Facebook is not converting to a content creator, it does want to guide users to content that will keep them coming back. As we have seen in the past, Facebook continues to accentuate the importance of visuals. Paper places a huge emphasis on photos, which makes scrolling through posts more appealing. As such, brands need to continue to focus on creating relevant, engaging, visually dynamic content that translates well across all platforms — from desktop to tablet to Paper.
With New App, Facebook Aims to Make Its Users’ Feeds Newsier: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/04/technology/with-new-app-facebook-aims-to-make-its-users-feeds-newsier.html
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