Put Up or Shut Up: Facebook’s Paper Snubs Brands Pushing Bad Content

On a 2013 company earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg hinted at a future suite of apps powered by the vast amounts of personal data Facebook has acquired. This week it delivered Paper, the first app out of its new Creative Labs, which combines the news feed and news reader into one, nifty reading experience. The app aims to clear cluttered feeds and deliver quality content users actually want. Many are calling it the best version of Facebook yet.

With Paper, Facebook is sending a clear message to brands thinking of using the platform to reach customers: put up great content or shut up. The days of paying to spread lackluster self-promoting content may be over, as page owners must now create content that users like if they want to remain relevant in the app’s news feed. It’s a beautiful equalizer, putting multi-billion dollar global companies and fledgling startups on a level content playing field.

The first thing we noticed about Paper is the lack of sponsored posts. Brand pages are also difficult to find, buried deep within the interface. So, what can brands do? Here are three things to keep in mind when creating content for the new Facebook Paper world:

1.      Tell stories. Brands that successfully adopt Paper will learn to stop selling and start telling. Telling the stories of how their product or service fits into the daily fabric of users’ lives – good, bad or indifferent. Good stories lead to sharable content – and this will prove key to brand success in the app.

2.      State an opinion. Engaging content gets you into the newsfeed, but real people curate Paper’s other sections. Brands that take a stance on an issue and establish well respected thought-leadership may be featured in the curated News sections. This is a new avenue toward free exposure.

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3.      Develop a content strategy. Open-ended questions and silly photos really do little to build a brand’s community. Stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking like the editor of an online magazine. Spend time creating and sharing information that improves lives, rather than well-branded photography.

Paper shows that Facebook has evolved far beyond a friend list. It’s latest app is bringing new utility to peoples’ lives. For years, content marketers have encouraged brands to develop meaningful content for their customers. Paper may finally cause any holdouts to take this seriously. Facebook has made it clear it is not afraid to snub those hawking bad content. And that may be a good thing for all of us.

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