What you need to know about Facebook Paper

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Facebook Paper image_MBYesterday, Facebook announced the arrival of Paper, a visual news reader app that will launch on Monday, Feb. 3. As with any big news from the social networking giant, we quickly scrambled to learn more, and, more importantly, understand what this means for marketers. Here’s a quick look at what you need to know.

What is Paper?

Facebook describes Paper as “a new app that helps you explore and share stories from friends and the world around you.” In short, it’s a new way to experience your News Feed. Rather than a cluttered vertical stream of content, the new iPhone app will compile News Feed content into sections so users can follow their favorite interests—just like a newspaper.

How is it different from the current Facebook app?

With Paper, users will be able to customize their app with a choice of more than a dozen sections about various themes and topics. The first section in Paper is your News Feed. And, from here, you can add sections about topics like photography, sports and design. The content in each section will be curated by Facebook and, as the social network describes it in a post, feature “emerging voices and well-known publications.”

Paper cuts away virtually all buttons and other UI elements to make every status update, photo, and news story appear full-screen. Rather than the clutter of a vertical stream of content, Paper will deliver an immersive, horizontally scrolling set of screens.

Facebook Paper image2_MB

Why does it matter?

Paper is changing the way users share and tell stories on Facebook. The new UI is less noisy and cluttered than News Feed and will deliver higher quality content, while also slowing down users’ content viewing experience. (The opposite of how many of us scroll through the vertical chaos of News Feed at lightning speeds.)

What remains to be determined is how users will actually use the app. Since Paper allows users to post status updates, will people still want to use the current News Feed app? Facebook says that Paper isn’t meant to replace its current app, but we wonder if users will actually access Facebook via two different mobile apps.

What we do know is that the arrival of Paper means that high-quality, compelling, engaging content is even more important if you want your story seen and heard on Facebook.

Are you going to test out Paper on Monday? Share in the comments or tweet us at @jshapr.