FacebookPaper“Stories come in all shapes and sizes. They can be told with words. Or with a single picture. And how the story is told is as important as the story itself.”

These are the first words you will hear spoken in the opening video for Facebook’s new app Paper.

The New “New” Media?

There’s been lots of buzz about the newly launched iOS app by the social media giant.  This modern-day news “paper” is exactly that. Even in the video explanation, visual analogies are made between flipping open a newspaper and flipping through the beautifully designed screens of the app.

Paper is really a new delivery system for news, images and information in a responsive, visual storytelling form. An article by Doug Hopkins in AdAge says: “It promises to bring you the best, brightest and most tailored content — across your personal and commercial sources for news and information – rather than require you to spend time browsing, surfing and searching.”

By calling it Paper and leaving the original Facebook app untouched, they avoid the uproar of naysayers and slow adaptors that could have occurred with a dramatic overhaul. But, Paper does seem like a foreshadowing of what’s to come, even a rough draft or beta form of the future Facebook.

An interesting article by @JoshConstine in TechCrunch said it well.  “Facebook’s Creative Labs launched Paper to explore how content delivery could be reimagined if there weren’t a billion users to worry about shocking. It’s purposefully built for open-minded, style-conscious users willing to embrace change in exchange for a cutting-edge experience. You could almost say that makes Paper ‘Hipster Facebook.’”

While Facebook claims it is not a media company; it does aim to be “the best personalized newspaper in the world.”  As someone who increasingly looks to Facebook less as a social tool to catch up with friends and family, and more as a news aggregator, I think it’s a fantastic concept.

In theory, Paper can become a one-stop source for information, essentially in the same way that newspapers, radio stations and television networks did at their inception. I think that Jay Baer hit the nail on the head, when he recently said in a blog post that “Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter aren’t the new MySpace, they are the new ABC, NBC and CBS.”

Like Google, Facebook Paper is All About Content

In August 2013, Facebook announced that it was cracking down on Pages that tried to trick their way into your Newsfeed with “low quality” content (like memes), giving more visibility to “quality” content from trusted publishers and Pages, like traditional media companies.

Paper also introduces another Facebook first – a team of real editors who are curating content and hand-selecting the information you see in different categories.

So, while readers can scroll their visually appealing and beautifully modern Facebook news feed, they can now engage with other content from news sources you might not have discovered otherwise. In essence, while Facebook isn’t journalistically creating original content (yet), they are essentially now competing with business, entertainment and news sources online by humanly curating information.

On a recent content marketing podcast, Joe Pulizzi noted that “Facebook becomes an ecosystem within itself” in Paper, which is a pretty interesting concept. You can essentially, and seamlessly, slide out of your own Facebook feed and tap into these other curated news topics and categories.

So, if like me, you’re coming to Facebook for more than the latest scoop from old friends, you will find Paper really useful.  You can get breaking news in Headlines, find a dinner recipe in Flavor or get celebrity dirt in Pop Life.

Because Paper takes up your phone’s full screen to display pictures and content, it even makes the classic Facebook app look kind of outdated and clunky.

What does it all mean?

For media companies it means that standing out with visually impactful content and stories is crucial. And, for businesses, time will tell. So far there is no advertising or any other way to influence the Paper content curators other than creating truly stimulating, original creative content. Isn’t that the true meaning of content marketing anyway?