Facebook Paper: This Could Change Everything

Launching last Thursday, Facebook’s new app, Paper, is a curated content application that integrates with the existing Facebook platform in a refreshing way. The app allows users to get news about their friends as well as from the around world, all in one place. When you first log into your Facebook account on Paper, you choose different topics like “Tech”, “Headlines” or “Cute” to decide which content interests you and will appear in your Paper. This re-imagination of the Newsfeed expands the type of content that users can enjoy on the go and may have serious implications for brands and marketers.

image (1)Designed by Mike Matas, the brilliant mind behind the iPhone and iPad’s UI, the UI of Paper is unparalleled. Swipe across the top half of the screen to browse through topics and swipe horizontally at the bottom half of the screen to browse through the specific stories under each topic. Paper creates new avenues for accessing content and makes that content more visual. This app makes it easy to kill a few minutes on the go, reading content that people actually care about.

Currently, 53% of Facebook’s ad revenue comes from mobile, and Paper has the potential to increase that percentage significantly, by selling space for branded content. In a recent interview with Tech Crunch, higher-ups at Facebook admitted that Paper had already completely replaced the Facebook app for them (which could mean that the Facebook app will also be abandoned by their general user-base). We will definitely be following Paper as its mobile-focused platform creates new opportunities for marketers. It may require them to rethink their entire mobile strategy!

Mobile content is an important topic at SMW NYC, and we are excited to hear from our friends at Thrillest, TIME Magazine, Deep Focus, and Facebook in their session, The Future of Content in a Mobile World. We have a feeling that Paper will be getting a shoutout.

Get your pass for SMW NYC here and be sure to check out our schedule for other events you won’t want to miss!

Spotlight on Fran Hauser, President of Digital for Time Inc.’s Style & Entertainment and Lifestyle Groups

When we select our partners, we think big. Real big. We want to bring the best quality and most engaging organizations to the table. Which is why having Time Inc. on board was an easy choice. You can see them at SMWNYC on Thursday at 1PM with their event “Second Screen & Social TV,” but until then, get to know them and Fran Hauser, President of Digital for Time Inc.’s Style & Entertainment and Lifestyle Groups:

Fran, the global theme for SMW 2012 is “Empowering Change through Collaboration.” How does Time Inc. support this idea overall?
As it happens, this past year has been one filled with collaboration and change. Time Inc. reaches 138 million people in the U.S.- half of the adult population engages with at least one of our brands. Because of our scale, we’ve been able to collaborate with leading device manufacturers, social start-ups and marketing partners to create new and better media and entertainment experiences for audiences everywhere.

For example, we have begun to re-imagine the experience consumers have with content, making it more social and interactive, by partnering with the likes of LinkedIn, to integrate CNNMoney.com’s Best Companies to Work For list into the site, and Foursquare and Google Maps to enhance PEOPLE’s Caught in the Act franchise.

And we became the first publishing company to make our entire portfolio of brands available on tablets– all of which are designed specifically for each device. We gave our print subscribers the ability to “authenticate” or access the tablet version for free using their subscriber info.

We’re also rethinking our relationship with advertisers and finding new ways to collaborate with them by creating rich ad experiences that leverage both the platform and the devices our content is being consumed on. For example, PEOPLE.com pulls in celebrity tweets through a sponsorable module that can include an advertiser’s Twitter feed. And later this month, PEOPLE will launch a tablet-optimized version of their site with a new and engaging ad experience incorporating swipes and gestures.

But when I think about empowering change, it is more than just what we are doing as a business to improve the products we deliver. More than ever, we’re collaborating with our readers to make a difference. This year, through its PEOPLE FIRST charitable initiative, PEOPLE is partnering with Kentucky-based Blessings in a Backpack to provide backpacks full of food to hungry schoolchildren. Using various platforms including social media channels to promote the program, the partnership is estimated to feed approximately 25,000 children in 2012. Whether it’s a company-wide anti-bullying campaign or shedding light on the plight of afghan women, our brands are boldly driving the conversation around the world’s most pressing social issues.

What was the drive behind Time Inc.’s involvement in Social Media Week?
We’ve been involved with Social Media Week for the past three years and have found it is a great place for us to engage in the conversation and share some of our learnings. We’re working with so many of the social players out there, both big and small, but we know there are new companies surfacing all the time. Being part of this event gives us a chance to interact and help filter new ideas that are building buzz and momentum in the social space.

We also have Time Inc.’s annual franchise “10 NYC Start-ups to Watch” coming up in May and SMW is a great vehicle for us to identify the hot new social start-ups in the city.

How are journalists adapting to the speed with which stories are now being published? What tools are they using that allow them to report and post so quickly?
Our journalists, whether they’re covering politics or celebrity or sports, have really become experts in getting their stories out there first and fast and ensuring it is of the most value to our readers. They have all of these great tools at their fingertips to not only identify the most relevant and trending stories but also new ways to get the stories out there – from search to social platforms to RSS feeds. They’re sharing everything from celebrity sightings to the latest polling stats with our readers in real time and across multiple platforms.

The political blog The Page by TIME’s Mark Halperin is a good example. Washington insiders and political junkies can get the scoop instantaneously by email, RSS, Facebook, Twitter or iPad app. For many of our brands, Twitter has been an incredible tool for us in getting the news to our readers just as it happens. Time Inc. has over 18 million followers collectively, with PEOPLE (3.3MM), TIME (3.2MM) and InStyle (2.1MM) holding the top three spots for magazine brands.

The Style and Entertainment and Lifestyle portfolios include some incredibly notable names like PEOPLE, InStyle, Real Simple and Myrecipes.com. How do you give each brand a unique voice that engages a variety of readers?
One reason why our brands have been so successful with social is because they take the time to understand each platform and how to best communicate there while staying true to who they are. Each brand has its own distinct voice and style of engagement. If you find yourself on the Cooking Light Facebook page, for example, you’re going to get some great ideas for dinner tonight, hand-picked by the editors you trust, some already tried by your fellow fans, which is very different from the conversations around red carpet looks and fashion weeks updates happening on InStyle’s page. We have dedicated social editors who understand the nuances of not just their brand but each platform and the type of news, stories and personalities that will resonate on each and the voice that is needed whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr or Google +.

We also continue to focus on building our brands in new places and choosing the right medium for engaging readers for each brand. A platform like GetGlue for example was an ideal fit for Entertainment Weekly when it was looking to socialize its popular Must List. Real Simple has seen a lot of success from their early adoption of Pinterest and now sees more traffic from Pinterest than from Twitter and Facebook combined.

With nearly 50 million monthly online visitors and over 18 million followers on Twitter, which digital strategies have been most effective in growing and retaining Time Inc.’s online audience?
Search has always been important but over the last several years social has become a major source of traffic for our sites and referrals from social have increased in several-hundred-percent range year over year for several of our brands. We’re always looking to innovate and identify new social platforms that are relevant for each brand and can help grow and develop their audiences.

Strategic Partnerships and seeking out opportunities on new screens is another way we are growing our audiences. We’ve been taking advantage of all the new touchpoints out there, whether it’s Gogo, the in-flight service where 200 million passengers can access People.com stories, or Samsung’s connected TVs which features TIME.

We believe that consumers are increasingly seeking out the brands that they know and trust in a crowded world. Which is why 50% of PEOPLE.com’s audience comes to the site using their bookmarks and why Time Inc.’s mobile apps are consistently in the top 10. The key for us is to continue to deliver trusted, premium content, while investing and building on our current franchises as well as introducing new ones.

Time Inc. properties attract 15 million mobile unique visitors per month. How have you adapted content to make the user experience flow naturally between print and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones?
Mobile is hugely important for us right now. We’ve invested in redesigning and optimizing our content to provide a premium experience on every platform. We designed tablet versions of all 21 of our U.S. titles and are working to create tablet optimized websites for many of our brands.

The majority of our websites have been optimized for smartphones in some way. This ensures that when our readers visit a Time Inc. site using their phone, they find the stories are optimized for a touch experience. It’s a very easy, natural reading experience, which you don’t always get on a phone– it’s something our readers have come to expect from our brands. We have also done a lot of research to better understand the arc of a consumer’s day so that we know when people are coming to our brands and on which device and can program accordingly.

What trends do you see in the publishing and content distribution industry and where do you see it going in the next year?
In terms of trends, we’ve been talking a lot about SMO (social media optimization) as search and social start to behave more like complementary channels than two totally independent ones. Google has already started to integrate its Google+ social results into its search engine. As a big media company, we’re watching this closely and making social distribution a priority in getting our content discovered by new audiences.

We can also expect to see an increased focus on areas like commerce and second screens as publishers continue to build out richer and more dimensionalized experiences with their brands.

What will attendees see from Time Inc. this February during SMW?
We’re going to be hosting a high-profile panel around Social TV on Thursday March 16th at 1pm where Bill Gannon, Managing Editor of EW.com and other industry leaders talk about the state of Social TV and second screens and where it is heading. This is an area we are very excited about.

Networked News Gatherers Panel Share How Social Editors Work at #SMWNYC

David Berkowitz is Sr. Director of Emerging Media & Innovation at 360i. You can follow David on Twitter @dberkowitz.

Let’s meet our panel for today on Networked News Gatherers: Defining the Social Media Role, hosted by Time Inc:
  • Moderator: Melissa Parrish, Director, Community Strategy for Lifestyle Digital, Time Inc
  • Jennifer Preston, Social Media Editor, The New York Times
  • Rachel Sklar, Business/Project Development, QAbrams Research and Writer for Mediaite (and she admitted she doesn’t know what Farmville is… so embarrassing)
  • Cyndi Stivers, Managing Editor, EW.com

Question: How are you involved with using social media across your organization?

Jennifer (NYT): Twitter usage there started when one developer wanted NYT Twitter headlines on his phone. There’s a big team involved with a lot of different constituents across different departments.

Rachel (Abrams Research): I’ve learned a lot. There’s not much of a filter in what I post as my own brand in this space.  “It’s very much an authenticity thing… and being conscious of the user experience as well.” It was funny watching Huffington Post get fully on the Twitter bandwagon – at the Democratic National Convention, all I had time for was checking what was happening on Twitter. We’ve gotten to the point where we can use the word Twitter without flinching.

Cyndi: We have a really active community. We were on Facebook before it opened up. By summer of 2008 we were on Twitter – last year in January Twitter was 138 on the list of referring domains, and then by May it was number 7 (leveled off around number 5). We feel like a startup even at a huge company.

Question via Twitter: How is social media changing relationships people have with writes?

Rachel: You can update something very fast. Writers are called out publicly things.

Jennifer: It’s made a big impact in terms of crowdsourcing. Brian Stelter has been a real leader in the newsroom, showing colleagues how to use Twitter in a very effective way. In the newsroom, many journalists use Twitter. Beyond crowdsourcing and engaging with users, we found there’s tremendous benefit in using social media just to get into the real-time web. When Fort Hood broke, we put up a Twitter list, and on our Lede blog, we took content from the Twitter list and put it in a module. An important thing about journalists is trust – Ann Curry mentioned this at yesterday’s panel. In breaking news situations you need to provide real-time information but you have to verify it.

Question: What’s it like using social media in a crisis?

Jennifer: My first month I wanted to hide under my desk. I was learning in a very public way. Through colleagues and friends in the space I found these incredibly welcoming, helpful, kind people.  … Instead of imposing many rules we’ve encouraged people to get out there and experiment and innovation.

Question: If you’re hiring for a position called a Social Media Editor or Social Marketing Manager, is it more important that they have personal experience in social media or that they have an editorial/web/print background?

Rachel: I’d say it all together would be perfect. The most important thing is enthusiasm. Understanding the rules of sharing is important but common sense is key.

Question: How do you determine the line between editorial use and promotional use?

Rachel: If we’re going to survive as an industry we need to figure out new models. Old models aren’t working. There have to be creative solutions. With the McFlurry scene in 30 Rock, I don’t know if it was paid for [it wasn’t – and it directly led me to buy a couple McFlurries – Ed.], but I didn’t care.

Cyndi: Didn’t help that it was funny? It’s not traditional advertising by any stretch.

Question: As editors, are you just as happy to get people talking even if it’s negative?

Rachel: When Mediait launched there was some perceived backlash due to some misconception. That never came to anything and is not attached to the brand but it drove me bananas. You also have to be careful how you respond. Monitoring how your brand is being perceived is important.

Jennifer: People have been talking about New York Times content for a very long time – the dinner table, water cooler, the horse and buggy. We want to be wherever that conversation is taking place.

Audience question: How will NYT’s plan to charge for content effect things?

Jennifer: The metered model won’t be put in place for another year. In that time, we’ll make sure the user experience in terms of the payment process will be frictionless. A lot has to be worked out. For people coming to our site through Twitter or Facebook or a recommendation that will stay open. [So that means just find what’s posted on Twitter everyone, and you don’t have to pay! Yeah, let’s see how long that lasts… -Ed.]

Question: Is the social media editor role here to stay?

Cyndi: Everyone needs to have those skills. Curiosity’s a trait of our business. It’s just another element in the toolkit, and I think it’s not going away.

Rachel: I think both – you have to do everything, and you have to promote your own stuff, but it takes time. The bigger you get the more you need that person.

Jennifer: [I missed the first part of her response due to my exceptionally loud sneeze. – Ed.] We’re turning over the keys to our different desks and they’ve done a fabulous job with Twitter, modules, etc. That’s the real challenge of a Social Media Editor – to push it out through your organization.