Getting Your Content in Facebook's Paper

February 10, 2014

Facebook is promising a different user experience with its new reader app, called Paper. The company touts the mobile aggregation tool as a way to consume one's news feed in a more natural, engaged way. But will it be a boon for businesses too?

Doug Hopkins, director of user experience at marketing firm Isobar, writes in a recent commentary for Ad Age that brands can make a play using this new way of consuming information, but that they have to be very cognizant of how they to so.

"Facebook has not provided any details for how exactly advertising and marketing content will be incorporated into the platform, but... it is likely to be cautious and take incremental steps," Hopkins writes. "The insertion of branded content, either directly or indirectly, should also strive for a balanced approach that hits the right notes to play well within the ground rules Paper is trying to establish."

Hopkins suggests a formula to help make sure that your content will get along with Facebook's new way of displaying content. Your items should be made up of the following:

  1. Two parts newsworthiness. Hopkins says that in order to fit in with the newspaper feel of Facebook's new app, you should tie your content to something that's happening now, first and foremost: "It needs to be timely, to feel like news and something of value the user would want to know."
  2. One part you. He suggests that your brand's marketing presence take a supporting role: "Very overt and brand-first messages are likely to not make the cut – either because of curation by editorial staff at Facebook [or] because of the initial algorithms judging what is Paper-worthy."
  3. One part respected source. Don't be afraid to reference or link to an outside media source in your post. With that, Hopkins says "the likelihood improves that material will find its way into the curated experience."

Hopkins notes that at this early stage, no one can be certain of the exact ingredients of perfect Paper content. However, he says it's important for brands to start thinking about honing their content now, rather than later.

"Whenever a company with the digital size and footprint of Facebook (with terabytes of consumer data to match) makes a new foray into how we will potentially 'get' our digital content, everyone should take note and start trying out their 'What if..?' scenarios."

Source: "Are You Paper-Worthy? Branded Content and Facebook's Ambitious New Reading App," Ad Age (Feb. 5, 2014)

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