Well done, Facebook. You’ve captured our attention once again. Maybe it’s because you’re 10 years old now (happy birthday!), but you’ve learned a lot over the years. And lucky for us, it’s all culminated into one of the social platform’s greatest feats to date: Paper.
The latest app that has everyone talking, Paper is a mash-up of Facebook and a news curator—and it’s quite the statement piece from a platform that has seen its influence wane over the last few years. And even though Facebook says Paper is only “an experiment,” the fact that it’s been so well received (aside from the recent drama over its name) suggests that it may be here to stay. And if it does, it raises the ever-important question: What does Paper mean for content?
But before we dive into that, let’s take a deeper look at Paper and its features.
The app has a completely different look and feel from Facebook, which is a good thing because it’s absolutely stunning. Paper is simple, modern, and completely user-intuitive; a total re-design from the original “scroll up and down and click” Facebook platform. With various swipe options, users can maneuver their way around Paper with ease.
Aside from aesthetics, Paper is a great example of what a single platform with multiple news feeds should look like. Upon opening the app, you’ll find your social newsfeed, which pulls stories from Facebook friends and liked company pages. But with a swipe to the right, you’re brought to mini-magazines based upon topics of your choosing, such as Top Headlines, Family, Tech, and LOL. All of the news (or distractions) you need in one convenient app. Perfect.
But now to the interesting stuff: How does it all work?
Facebook actually hired humans—that’s right, humans—to curate quality content for each category. So instead of an algorithm that chooses it for you, people are behind the scenes/screens selecting the top stories they think you’d find interesting. And as you continue using the app, they’ll collect data based on your behaviors to cater to your personal needs. Pretty cool and creepy in that Big Brother kind of way, but still convenient nonetheless.
So why do all of this in the first place?
To bring quality news to the top and shove all of that meaningless viral crap (sorry cat lovers) to the bottom—all of which, Facebook execs say, clutters news feeds and makes the site less appealing. By marrying the social aspect of Facebook with news, the social giant hopes to keep users engaged for the long-term. Not a bad back up plan, considering the competition is on the rise.
And if you’re wondering if Facebook will begin creating content, fear not. Execs say it has no plans to do so; it’s all about guiding users to the good stuff (for now, anyway).
So, back to the important question. What does this mean for content?
Although the current categories for Paper are limited and the sources mainly consist of the big-time news organizations such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, we can expect to see more options in the future.
With that said, here’s what content creators should focus on:
If your brand isn’t yet in the content scene, it’s time to start moving because you’re already behind the times. If Paper is here to stay, it could be a glimpse of what to expect in the future: A world where content and social are on equal playing fields. But your company will be left on the sidelines—heck, even the parking lot—if its not publishing anything to begin with.
We can’t stress this enough. If your content sucks, no one will read it, and it definitely won’t stand a chance of making it onto Paper. Instead of rushing to get an article out the door in between the millions of other things you have to do, hire some quality writers who can devote their time and talent to the task. Or, hire a content creation agency, like us (*wink wink*).
Images, font style and size, color, layout—it’s more important than ever that you pay attention to these details. Design is key in the digital world, and Paper makes that clear. We live in an aesthetic-driven world these days, and you have to at least get the basics right in order to compete.
According to Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard, Facebook is the biggest social driver of traffic for news outlets. But in addition to influencing how articles are presented, social also helps journalists decide what to write about. Articles that focus on a single idea and contain lots of images are successful because they’re ideal for sharing. And this is where knowing your audience comes into play; simplify complex ideas or stories to optimize the shareability of your content. Once you do, you’ll be golden.