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Facebook Paper: 3 Facts

Facebook will launch a standalone news reader app on Feb. 3. Here's what you need to know.

7 Facebook Wishes For 2014
7 Facebook Wishes For 2014
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Facebook unveiled Thursday morning its highly anticipated news reader app called Paper, which combines content shared by your friends with news from a variety of publications. The app will be available for download on iOS devices in the US on Feb. 3.

Paper is the first app launched by Facebook Creative Labs, an initiative to develop and design new apps for phones. This is likely the first of many "new and engaging types of mobile experiences" that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg alluded to in its latest earnings call. Facebook reported Wednesday that it generates more than half of its advertising revenue from mobile.

Facebook's new focus on standalone apps and mobile is a natural and necessary next step for the social network, said Rebecca Lieb, industry analyst at Altimeter Group. They're goldmines for both user data and advertising dollars.

[Get a grip on your Facebook account. Read 10 Most Misunderstood Facebook Privacy Facts.]

"Facebook is becoming more and more about news discovery: We've seen that when it recently launched Trending, for example, and Paper is a continuation of that on a mobile platform," Lieb said in an interview. "Paper looks like a play to both leverage the way people are using Facebook, which is on mobile and for news discovery, and obviously to monetize it." Paper will be ad-free when it launches on Monday, Facebook said, at least for now.

While Paper will launch ad-free, it's unlikely it will stay that way for long, Lieb said.

"We know Facebook is aggressively courting mobile advertisers, and advertising on editorial content is something that they're all comfortable with," Lieb said. "There's a high degree of customization on Paper, which will provide Facebook with more data about what its users are interested in and will help businesses better target their advertising."

Here's a preview of Paper, plus details about Facebook's newest app.

1. You choose your content topics.
Much like a newspaper, Facebook's Paper app is made up of sections that you can add based on your interests. The first section in Paper is your News Feed, where you can browse photos, videos, and longer posts. You'll notice that the News Feed section on Paper is displayed differently from what you're used to on Facebook: The top half of the screen shows photos and videos, while the bottom half shows updates and links to content that your friends have shared, which you can swipe through.

More than 12 other sections are available for you to add to Paper. These include "Score" for sports news, "Headlines" for world news, "Cute" for animal stories, "Planet" for science and sustainability content, "Enterprise" for business news, as well as photography ("Exposure"), food ("Flavor"), and themed pages that change daily, called "Ideas."

2. It's more than an e-reader.
While Facebook's new app is intended to help you discover new content, it also lets you share stories and post your own content to Facebook (and thus Paper) from the app.

Paper uses a WYSIWYG editor, which shows you exactly what your post looks like before you share it. For example, you won't have to worry about whether text or an image will appear cropped in previews, as it sometimes does on Facebook.

3. It's gesture-heavy.
Maneuvering around Paper may take some getting used to: It requires learning to make a variety of gestures in the right places, such as where to swipe, tap, pinch, and tilt.

In Paper, images are shown in full screen. This means you need to tilt your device to browse images corner to corner. To flip through stories, swipe from right to left. Tapping one will unfold it to display in full-screen mode. Pinch the story to fold it back up and return to your Paper feed.

Check out Facebook's video below:

Senior editor Kristin Burnham covers social media, social business, and IT leadership and careers for InformationWeek.com. Contact her at Kristin.Burnham@ubm.com or follow her on Twitter: @kmburnham.

Too many companies treat digital and mobile strategies as pet projects. Here are four ideas to shake up your company. Also in the Disruption issue of InformationWeek: Six enduring truths about selecting enterprise software (free registration required).

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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
1/30/2014 | 1:05:49 PM
Facebook Paper vs Flipboard?
Kristin, what, if anything, does Facebook Paper offer readers that Flipboard does not?
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/30/2014 | 1:59:05 PM
Re: Facebook Paper vs Flipboard?
The social aspect of Paper is key, and it's what sets it apart from Flipboard. The stories that you see will be determined by both an algorithm -- which takes into account what your friends are posting and sharing -- and "editors" that Facebook has hired to determine what content is particularly worthy of being featured. Both apps are designed quite well and have great UIs -- we'll have to see whether this social element is a pro or con for users.

 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
1/30/2014 | 3:31:10 PM
Re: Facebook Paper vs Flipboard?
Ah. it feeds based on what friends post. So it is time to dump those friends who post all the cat stories? This seems like a downside to me compared to flipboard...i dont think your friends are necessarily your best news curators.
AshleyJ483
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AshleyJ483,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/31/2014 | 6:51:36 AM
Re: Facebook Paper vs Flipboard?
Facebook looks all set to go mobile. This quarter mobile messenger app use increased by 70%

 

http://bit.ly/FacebookMobileGrowth
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2014 | 10:29:16 PM
Re: Facebook Paper vs Flipboard?
Yeah, but the big question about Facebook and mobile is monetization.  They've been having trouble with ad revenue for mobile.  Perhaps Facebook Paper is their solution to that.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/1/2014 | 9:30:17 AM
Re: Facebook Paper vs Flipboard?
@Joe -- Facebook has actually been really successful in monetizing mobile. In its earnings call this week it reported that mobile ad sales rose to 53% of revenues -- Facebook's first-ever $1 billion-plus mobile ad revenue quarter.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/30/2014 | 2:04:06 PM
Will you try it?
The big question is whether Paper's social element will be a deterrent or a draw for users. It could be a pro for people who value that level of personalization and customization, but Facebook's past with privacy and data collection could scare away others.

Readers: Will you try Paper? What's drawing you to or away from it?
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
1/30/2014 | 4:12:01 PM
Re: Will you try it?
I don't see what it has to offer that Twitter does not: Twitter is full of social news curation.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/31/2014 | 8:48:11 AM
Re: Will you try it?
I'm not sure you can really compare the two -- Flipboard is probably the better comparison. Twitter is a firehose of information that, sure, you can manage with separate lists and feeds, but what you see is what you get, and if you miss it, it's gone. Facebook is using both algorithms and editors to resurface interesting content (we'll have to see how well that works). There's also the visual element -- Paper is designed to highlight rich media, whereas Twitter isn't.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2014 | 1:58:29 PM
Re: Will you try it?
Thomas, 

Twitter works differently than FB. At least I don't don't use Twitter in the same way. It's not just about social news curation. It's also about who you are sharing those news with, or if you are sharing at all.

-Susan
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2014 | 10:28:04 PM
Re: Will you try it?
I actually find social news curation easier on FB than on Twitter... You can share links and posts only with yourself or certain lists and it's easier to look back on them.  On Twitter, you can favorite or RT posts, but that's about it.  (Of course, this is why hashtags are so important on Twitter.)
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2014 | 4:29:39 PM
Where's the Beef
Sorry, but I'm not seeing any kind of benefit to using Paper vs. the FB site itself.   If you're a mobile user and are all about the gestures, that's about it.  For anyone else, not so much.

 

 
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/31/2014 | 8:54:06 AM
Re: Where's the Beef
Think of it this way: Paper is a news reader that gives you the option to view a version of your News Feed. Curating external content from news sites is at the heart of it -- some of this content may be shared by your friends, but other content will be based on topics you choose: sports, world news, science news, tech news, etc.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2014 | 11:38:47 PM
Concerning
This sounds a lot like Facebook is copying LinkedIn's "Pulse" feature -- which (in my humble opinion) is LinkedIn's last-ditch attempt at remaining remotely relevant.


The fact that Facebook feels that something like this is necessary is mildly concerning.  It suggests that the company feels threatened -- and is feeling the pressure from mobile competition.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/31/2014 | 9:12:32 AM
Re: Concerning
Pulse is another good comparison, though I disagree that it should be viewed as a sign of concern or that the company feels threatened. They're competing. Facebook has been insanely successful at monetizing mobile, and this is another way to do just that.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2014 | 10:23:56 PM
Re: Concerning
Re: "Facebook has been insanely successful at monetizing mobile, and this is another way to do just that."

Of course, buying Instagram helped a bunch!
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2014 | 11:18:08 PM
Re: Concerning
LinkedIn Pulse is an interesting move. When you look at Pulse and the Activity feed, it's all about keeping people active on the site beyond just popping in to update what is, ultimately, just a form of online resumé. LinkedIn need people to be on the site regularly in order to make it more of a hub, all be it a hub with a work focus. I actually think it has been quite successful, and far from being desperate, I just see it as another offering to those who want it. Certainly I engage more with LinkedIn than I ever used to, and I post content there when I would not have done before, and - more importantly - that content gets responses.

As for FB Paper, I'll wait and see on that one. I'm not convinced yet.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2014 | 1:53:04 PM
New sections for the mobile app only?
Kristin, 

Do you know if those 12 sections will be only available on the iOS app, or the sections will be part of the regular FB as well? I didn't find the answer to this anywhere. :/ 

-Susan
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/1/2014 | 9:22:25 AM
Re: New sections for the mobile app only?
Susan -- The app is only available for iOS right now, no web capabilities yet.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
2/1/2014 | 11:06:19 AM
Re: New sections for the mobile app only?
I see. Thanks, Kristin. 

-Susan 
DavidM197
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DavidM197,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/31/2014 | 4:33:55 PM
I prefer Hinto over Paper
I personally prefer a visual app like Hinto where I can pick out what I want to see, instead of being told what news to read by an algorithm. But I must admit, the video presentation of Paper is pretty impressive and the effects are very nice.
JasonR844
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JasonR844,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/3/2014 | 11:57:56 AM
paper relaese date
When does the new app "paper" come out on ios... or is it out already?? I can not find it on the ios app store.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/3/2014 | 12:02:24 PM
Re: paper relaese date
@JasonR844 -- I'm not able to download it yet, either. Stay tuned...
JasonR844
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JasonR844,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/3/2014 | 12:26:15 PM
Re: paper relaese date
its on ios now!
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