Coffee and the morning newspaper are an iconic pair that simply go together. However, in our ever-connected world, they are transforming into more of a nostalgic pair, and the smartphone is becoming the “newspaper” of today.
Facebook’s new Paper app both reflects and answers this growing trend. Paper introduces valuable content to the newsfeed for users to digest like the newspaper with their morning cup of Joe.
New design for a new experience
Paper stops Facebook from being so strictly social and catapults it into the ranks of news curating services. Designed to be much more of an immersive experience than Facebook’s website or primary app, Paper itself looks similar to a newspaper with sections highlighting real news stories that can be found on the site. Users have the ability to customize the type of content that they see, choosing from news topics and interests including headlines, sports, food and, of course, the newsfeed.
The top half of the screen in each section is devoted to a “centerpiece” area that highlights a handful of stories and cycles through the images associated with each one. The bottom half holds numerous headline cards representing individual stories. Paper’s fluid design houses few buttons and relies mainly on gestures. Don’t let the lack of buttons fool you, though—users are still able to perform the commonly used functions available on the primary app, such as posting status updates, messaging friends and liking and commenting on posts from others.
New opportunities for Facebook
For the first time, Facebook is no longer focusing on increasing activity amongst friends, but has given users the ability to effectively demote friends below editorially curated content while providing the ability to easily discover new content. All of the stories featured on Paper have been posted somewhere on the platform and are selected by a combination of both human editors and algorithms, so Facebook isn’t so much choosing specific stories as it is organizing stories with high engagement. Major news sources are highlighted as well as lesser known artists and content producers.
Facebook has started supplying more valuable content than it ever has before and has begun tapping into content curation as another avenue useful to businesses and users alike.
Starting small for better targeting
Facebook started from scratch with Paper and started small. It is the first app launched by Facebook Creative Labs, an initiative to develop and design new apps for phones and is currently only available for the iPhone and versions of the iPod.
Since more than half of Facebook’s advertising revenue is generated from mobile, access to the first release of Paper to such a concentrated audience is still bound to produce results. The high degree of customization on Paper will provide Facebook with even more data about what its users are interested in and will produce even better targeted advertising.
The Facebook Paper app gives users more control over their newsfeed while introducing them to content they may not have otherwise found. By reintroducing valuable content into the newsfeed, users begin to slow down, take the time to actively ingest it and once again become a part of the conversation rather than mindlessly scrolling through.
Perhaps by introducing Paper to the screens of smartphones, Facebook has even captured some of the nostalgia that lies in the morning newspaper.