Facebook released its Paper app today for iOS, enabling users to “explore and share stories from friends—and the world.” There are already predictable comparisons to Flipboard, but what’s different? First off, the number of daily Facebook users on mobile in during Q4 was 556 million. Yes, really.
Is this a shiny new object that people will forget about by next week, or is Paper an app that will challenge brands and agencies to rethink their content marketing strategies across mobile and social? My bet is on the latter.
I’m not going to spend time reviewing Paper or going into the background, so if you want to read more on that topic, I highly recommend this Recode article. What I will say is that Facebook is using their own algorithm and editors to curate stories for broad categories like Tech, Home and Pop Live, which will help ensure that you aren’t just consuming content that is agreeable with your worldview.
Impact on Content Marketing
Sure, Paper is pretty, but should it change your content marketing strategy? Consider that Facebook has tried a variety of tactics to become the entry point for mobile users. Pulling in more content beyond the information that is surfaced by your friends or brands that users have “liked” should help push this initiative along. Plus, you can still access standard Facebook features like friend requests, messages and notifications. This will likely extend user sessions and may reduce the utility of additional news apps.
I’m not saying to give up on your own news apps if you have them, but this is something you should be thinking about if you do, and I encourage you to keep a close eye on your traffic to see if there is any impact.
As a content publisher, you likely already have a Facebook presence established. You may not need to do anything different if you are already including Facebook in your marketing mix beyond ensuring that you are sharing quality content on a consistent basis and encouraging conversations with your fans.
If you have legal concerns preventing you placing your brand on social media, I highly recommend that you consult with a lawyer. Many healthcare-related companies are not on Facebook because there are potential privacy issues that could emerge.
Mobile for the masses
If you don’t have a mobile website, you need to invest in one sooner rather than later. Make sure that you use links to your content that redirect to your mobile site so that Paper users (and any other mobile users) have the best experience.
Mobile websites are often preferable to responsive design if your target audience is the general public. Lots of people have smartphones, but not everyone is using an iPhone on 4G LTE, and responsive sites are notorious for not loading or running painfully slow on non-smartphones.
While the number of people that don’t have smartphones may be small, social media allows those individuals to amplify their voice. You can serve a much broader audience by employing a mobile website, and I recommend taking a look at Duda Mobile.
I previously worked for a mobile developer, and it was interesting how many times content producers would ask, “Should I do responsive design or apps?” Even brilliant marketers will contend that apps are passé. Most likely, their apps aren’t being updated with new content and/or using push notifications. This will cause app traffic to tank, and may lead to the thought that apps aren’t cool anymore.
Facebook’s launch of Paper should be an indicator that apps do work. If you have an app, keep it updated with your newest content. Don’t let it go stale. Use push notifications to keep your audience engaged, but don’t abuse them. I have deleted apps that send too many push notifications or ones that basically contain no useful information.
Now, it’s your turn. What are your thoughts on the Paper app? Is it just another news reader app or the impetus for getting a mobile strategy in place?