Pay Attention Marketers – This New App is a Preview of What’s to Come

By Heidi Smith | Feb 10, 2014
More Articles by Heidi


You might read the headline of this post and think, is she going to advise me to download that Flappy Bird game that has swept the nation with viral videos of impromptu yelling and the smashing of smartphones? No, I will not – though if you can get past a score of 20 on that game you are one determined individual. However, this is nothing quite that elementary.

icon for Paper by FacebookI’m talking about Paper. It was released this past week as the newest venture from a little company called Facebook (maybe you’ve heard of them). Paper was a Top Five app in the iPhone App Store within hours of its release – but Facebook has released other applications in the past that didn’t exactly receive a warm welcome.

Is Paper going to be another initiative gone awry, or will it change the way we use (or don’t use) Facebook in the future? The biggest question advertisers and marketers should be asking themselves is how it will affect the Facebook we currently know, and how those changes will affect the way we use Facebook for our business.

Background

The Newsfeed and Headlines sections of Facebook's Paper app are shownPaper is essentially a redesigned Facebook with integrated news and category capabilities. It provides your Facebook Newsfeed as a required “section,” with the option to choose up to 9 (of 19 available) additional sections. As an avid iPhone user, I think Paper is aesthetically pleasing and designed to be very user-friendly for the most part. The navigation takes some getting used to, but otherwise it is a seamless, well-designed interface that is much better than I anticipated.

Just last week a co-worker asked me where I get the wide-range of news and culture articles I talk about throughout a work week – my answer was, surprisingly enough, Facebook. I follow a variety of news and media outlets on Facebook, and I seem to have enough “virtual” friends who share stories that it makes my feed interesting and a constant source of information that isn’t just about what Susie’s cat did this morning.

So for me, Paper is exactly what I didn’t know I needed – a combination of my friends’ updates as well as completely separate categories where I can catch up on headlines, technology news, sports scores and more. It’s more streamlined and personalized than my Twitter feed, and employs a personal side of things by integrating my Facebook, which isn’t an option with Flipboard. Additionally, it doesn’t just show articles from companies I follow or that my friends post, it integrates third party, credible sources and shows me articles I want to see all within one application. With the introduction of Paper, I have to ponder the idea – am I going to stop using the regular Facebook app?

The Current Audience

The answer, for now anyways, is probably not. I find it nearly impossible to consider that the billions of current Facebook users will drop the original app overnight for Paper. However, the effects of Paper on Facebook need to be considered.

For those of you who have utilized Facebook as an advertising platform, you probably have an idea of the sheer audience size and crucial, valuable targeting that can be utilized to aid your business’s B2C goals. Paper, in premise, should simply expand upon Facebook’s current and vast user network in new and different ways. Users that aren’t as active on Facebook or don’t like the social network, may discover they like Paper and use it more often than they use Facebook – thus, a newer, broader audience is tapped and continues to drive detailed information to marketers.

Regardless of the way Facebook’s audience changes over the next few months or years, at this point in time Facebook is providing businesses with a treasure trove of information on audience demographics and about people in general. Make room for Facebook Ads in your marketing budget, use it to interact with and directly target your audience, and in the process you will learn more information than you ever thought possible about the people that drive your business. It should make your transition to Paper advertising that much easier… when it is available.

Expansion

Paper is starting out advertisement-free, but it won’t last for long. Facebook’s advertising revenue topped $2.59 billion in Q4 of 2013 and with 757 million total daily users and 1.23 billion monthly users, Facebook will want to continue its course of growth and expansion with its advertising business. As I mentioned above, Paper, depending on its success, should provide additional information to marketers around their target demographics while expanding the reach of Facebook through different audiences accessing and utilizing Paper. After all, you need a Facebook account to use Paper.

The Future of Content?

Facebook’s referral traffic to publishing websites grew over 48% in Q4 of 2013. This means that businesses, from small to enterprise, need to ensure they are creating compelling, useful, original content that users want to share on social networking sites. Apps like Flipboard and now Paper encourage businesses to create content for the user and for those users to share it; great content should drive traffic to your site, create loyal customers through useful information, and can even affect search engine rankings.

More Mobile, All the Time

mobile advertising to moneyAccording to the New York Times, 53% of Facebook’s advertising revenue came from mobile devices including smartphones and iPads. Facebook itself has said mobile is a core focus, and there are even reports that there will be a suite of new applications for mobile released by Facebook in 2014. There are currently no plans to make Paper available on desktop, and that in itself is evidence of how Facebook is taking on the growth of mobile and the advertising that goes with it.

Mobile is an area that as a business-minded professional, you need to be thinking about. In the next four years, mobile ad spending is projected to grow to $37 billion – you don’t want to be left in the cold without those mobile advertising dollars to keep you warm, do you? Prepare your marketing plan and advertising model now, and make sure that your audience can find you on mobile. Optimizing your site for mobile devices and tablets, and utilizing PPC advertising techniques on Google AdWords and Bing Ads are musts for 2014 if you haven’t implemented them already.

Are you already gaining insight into your audience through Facebook Advertising? Creating great content and optimizing for mobile? Then you are in great shape. The business world is a constantly changing enigma – you never know what new ground-breaking development will be introduced tomorrow. Paper may be the next big thing, or it may be just the start of what Facebook will bring to the table in years to come.

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