On Feb 3, Facebook launched a new media-reading app called Paper. It’s designed to ease the task of keeping track of the latest headlines, photos and video by putting the content into one user-friendly app.
The day after Paper launched, The Wall Street Journal posted a review comparing it to a similar app called Flipboard. Although both apps differed in their appeal to users, they both pull information from a variety of sources. Facebook uses computer algorithms that gauge popularity, human editors, posts and interactions from your friends, and your own personal preferences.
When users start to use the app you are brought to your Facebook screen and there is a stream of content from your friends including posts and links. Most of the news content, however, is selected from algorithms and editors monitoring the news — meaning users will be provided the same news stories as of that moment. The app’s connection though Facebook will also allow content to be shared more easily through the app interface.
Paper was designed after research revealed that more Americans are using Facebook to gather news. According to an October 2013 Pew Research study, 30 percent of Americans named Facebook as a place where they go to find news. Other research has shown that a majority of Facebook users access the site on mobile devices versus a computer, which explains why the app is available on mobile devices.
Paper is a great place to feature top news stories, but there is no right column advertisements, sponsored posts, or posts from brands. This is a difficulty for those social media brand representatives and a possible plus for journalists and publishers.
The question is what can an app like Paper do for public relations practitioners? According to an article in PR Week, the answer remains unclear.
Public relations will most likely have little involvement with Paper because the content is typically decided by the app itself. Although the app will allow users to acquire content from their friends list — favoring content higher if the users interact frequently — the news is predetermined.
The only potential benefit Paper could have for public relations practitioners is securing content in the stories that every user of Paper will see, but that will be a challenge based on what the algorithms and editors of Paper use.
Do you think that Paper will be a great media-reading app? If so, what does this mean for public relations?