Facebook Paper is the new mobile app from Facebook designed to change the way users experience the world's biggest social network rather than change what they do.
Announced late last week, it capitalises on the emerging trend that the immersive experience of content is just as important as the content itself (as also demonstrated recently by Jelly).
The app has redesigned the Facebook user interface from scratch. Focusing on full-screen, bold images, the familiar "timeline" has been replaced with a Flipboardesque interface, with familiar looking mosaic-style posts appearing along the bottom.
These posts however are re-dubbed as stories; text updates become full screen black text on white background affairs, while images also receive the full screen treatment, with text overlaid and the option to scroll panoramically by tilting the phone.
Albums are presented in an Instagram inspired vertical scrolling format, while videos (which, you guessed it, are full screen) play automatically. The app seems to focus on Facebook’s news feed rather than other functions such as messages, but there are also other "feeds" that users can opt to browse instead (such as "headlines," "creators" or "planets" as the intro video keenly displays).
Interestingly, these feeds will be curated, and will focus on getting the most creative, most engaging content in front of users’ eyes.
So what does this mean for brands?
In case you hadn’t noticed, rich content is now more important than ever. Based on Paper’s triple pillar mission of getting the best content from friends and brands to users in the most engaging way; curating the content so the best publishers are continually rewarded and given more prominence than their less successful counterparts; and curation of all of this being done by actual people, the message from Facebook is simple: If you want to be one of the "emerging voices and well-known publications" that Paper targets putting front and centre, you’ve got to do great stuff and keep doing great stuff.
A diverse, rich-media filled content strategy for Facebook just became more important than ever
A diverse, rich-media filled content strategy for Facebook just became more important than ever. Not only will it give you more attention grabbing content on "traditional Facebook" (as it may become known), but it will be the only way to get in front of users on Paper and stay there.
Here are four things brands can do now to capitalise on Paper’s potential as Facebook 2.0:
1.Empower community managers: community managers have and will always need to be excellent copywriters, and great people-people. To be successful on Paper however, they’ll also need to be creatively empowered image curators and video creators. Training in storytelling, image creation and video editing just became next on community managers’ to do lists. Or how about handing the community management reigns to the creative team themselves with the right guidance?
2. Review your content strategy: Paper will have sections on multiple topics as mentioned. If your content doesn’t fit into one of those sections, the chances are you’re not going to get in. Review what options are available, what you could be known for, what you want to be known for, and what content you have, and make sure what you do is targeted to that end goal and the right audience.
3. Create some dedicated social content: the chances that Paper will reward "hand-me-down" content that users could or have seen on other sources are slim. Put some budget towards dedicated, high-quality social content to maximise the exposure on Paper.
4. Plan your content in a content calendar: as if it wasn’t important enough before, plan your content in advance so it is consistent, complementary and of the highest quality. Falling back on "on the fly posting" isn’t going to put you at the top of the content pile, and it certainly won’t keep you there if that one great picture you posted was just a flash in the pan. Plan ahead to ensure that your brand is seen as a publisher of consistently top-quality content.
Paper will not be replacing Facebook’s existing mobile applications, but will rather be a separate offering allowing users a richer, more fluid way through which they can interact with their friends and brands. While it’s not Facebook’s first foray into creating separate mobile apps (with past experiences ranging from the successful if annoying Messenger, through to the "less successful" Poke) it is the first that seems to base its existence on a change in users’ expectations of how they interact with content rather than offering a separate functionality.
Is it a new shop front on the same store? Yes. But could it be the jump start that Facebook needs to restart the dwindling usage of younger users? Also, potentially yes.
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