If you have been keeping up with all the recent changes and enhancements to Facebook and have found yourself wondering what the social network will come up with next, today you got your answer: apps.
Today the company officially announced Paper, the first app to come out of Facebook Creative Labs. According to the announcement, Paper is “a new app that helps you explore and share stories from friends and the world around you” by enlisting the expertise of human editors that handpick stories and an algorithm that surfaces them. It seems that adding the human component has the effect of adding more stories from less obvious sources, which prevents this from becoming just another aggregator for major news outlets. The stories are all organized into different categories or themes, the first of which is the user’s Facebook news feed.
Equally important to the types of stories that are surfaced on Paper is the way in which they are presented. In keeping with Facebook’s recent commitment to creating a better visual experience, Paper places a lot of emphasis on the viewing experience. Images and videos open full screen, stories can be ‘flipped’ open like a newspaper, and all of the actions are controlled by natural gestures. The app also allows for ‘wysiwyg’ style editing of posts for users who are publishing stories to Paper, so there are never any surprises about how something is going to look when it goes live.
Because this app comes from Facebook, there is still a heavy emphasis on social elements. Liking, commenting, and sharing are still available. And, like Facebook’s EdgeRank ranking system, the app gives more weight to items that get a lot of social engagement. This is one way in which this new offering differs from other aggregation apps like Pulse, which was acquired by LinkedIn recently. Another, much more obvious, advantage of Paper over other news aggregators is that it offers access to the users Facebook news feed without leaving the app. So for people who want to know what’s going on in all levels of the things that they’re interested in, it’s a much more convenient and compact experience.
For now, Paper can be customized by the user, but is not yet personalized. Meaning that the user can choose the categories of news they want to view regularly, but the stories they find there will not be personalized for them – they’ll be the same for other uses viewing the same category. Unlike Facebook’s new trending feature in the desktop space, which shows different topics based on the profile of the user.
TechCrunch writer Josh Constine answered one of the major questions I was asking:
“For now there will be no ads in Paper, but Facebook tells me the team is considering how they could be naturally integrated.”
And while the ad-free experience of browsing through Paper certainly looks like it will be an enjoyable one, it makes sense that Facebook would eventually need to get their money back out of the project. As long as it’s done in a tasteful, organic way, I wouldn’t be mad at Facebook for allowing advertisers to take advantage of this platform.
But just because small business owners (like you, maybe?) can’t yet advertise on Paper, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of Paper in your marketing plans. Just like you do when marketing through your business Facebook page, you can publish relevant, engaging content on Paper that will help establish your credibility and link back to you website and social profiles. Because humans do have a role in determining what gets surfaced in each category, it’s important that the content you share aims to educate or enlighten on a topic that’s relevant to your audience. That way it has better chance of getting picked, getting liked, and getting ranked more highly.
Are you excited about Paper from Facebook, or are you apprehensive about adding yet another social tool to your lineup? Let us know what you think in the comments below.