On Monday, Facebook released a new iPhone app called Paper to put them in the news feed market with others such as Flipboard and Pulse.
In the world we live in today, people are bombarded with numerous news stories calling for their attention. In order to attempt to sift through all of this information, news apps are becoming more and more popular. Flipboard and Pulse have been widely considered popular for awhile, but on Monday Facebook attempted to put itself in the news game.
Facebook actually directs more traffic to web publishers than any other social network. According to a Pew Research study in late 2013, one-third of adults in the United States now get their news from Facebook. And the social network accounted for one out of every six minutes Americans spent online in December, according to the the research firm comScore.
According to the New York Times, when a typical user logs on to Facebook, there are about 1,600 possible items the company could show in the news feed based on that person’s friends and what pages they follow. Even the most avid user looks at only the top 200 or so. So Facebook spends a lot of time trying to make sure those top items are compelling.
Paper recommends articles and blog posts on a dozen topics, including news, food, parenting, the environment and gay rights. The app offers users an easier way to browse their news feeds, but it also presents them with a series of mini-magazines, each with a distinct tone and articles chosen by unidentified curators the company says have extensive expertise in their fields.
Like other news apps, Paper has a simple interface that eliminates buttons and menus. Flipboard, Zite and Pulse also have simple interfaces that can be personalized to the reader’s interests.
These increasingly popular news apps are important to communications professionals because it’s vital to understand how the public gets and reads their news. The more we understand about our reader’s interests, the better we can tailor our messages to suit their needs.