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Mobile social media becomes personalized with Facebook

Mobile social media becomes personalized with Facebook's Paper

2/27/2014

As social media companies look for ways to innovate their mobile services in 2014, Facebook has created an app worth watching out for. On Feb. 3, Facebook introduced Paper, a uniquely designed alternative to the standard Facebook browsing platform. Paper offers users a new way to browse content, focusing on the concept of stories.

Bringing social media back to the individual
One perhaps transformative characteristic of Paper is Facebook's shift of focus from an individual's circle of friends to the user. The app collects stories from well-known publications, niche-interest blogs and public content posted by Facebook users. Stories are presented in a more polished browsing platform than the cluttered news feed format of the standard Facebook app.

One major goal of Paper is to personalize Facebook users' experience. As Mike Matas, lead designer of the app, told Wired, "Picking up a feed on your phone is nowhere near the experience of picking up your favorite magazine and flipping through it."

A more focused platform
Observant users may notice that Paper does not feature any navigation bars or on-screen buttons. This is reflective of Facebook's attempt to streamline the app's design, building it around simplicity and shifting toward the layout of traditional print media. Paper allows users to concentrate on one story at a time, with each update and story filling up the entire screen. While many smartphone apps are scattered with visual distractions, Paper aims to bring an individual's attention to one item at a time.

For news firms, the introduction of Paper could lead to innovations in their publishing strategies. Since Paper aims to hold readers' attention to long-form content, news publishers could choose to leak parts of a story over several days, keeping users engaged in anticipation of new leads. The real-time mobile notification feature of Paper could also make it easier for readers to follow news stories - they first learn about a story breaking, and as more information surfaces, Paper users stay engaged with the story on one streamlined feed.

What Paper could mean for news and branding
The introduction of Paper could be the genesis of a greater movement toward news-oriented social media apps. If mobile users convert to Paper, Facebook has the potential to transform the way in which we receive news. Facebook's access to mobile user data and its algorithms could make Paper users' go-to source for information in the morning - imitating the role of the traditional newspaper.

According to Forbes, Facebook announced that Paper will begin as an ad-free service. However, it is possible that businesses will embrace the app as an outlet for new branding strategies, which could push Facebook to sponsor these stories. Paper's characteristic of focusing user's eyes to a single item could make the app especially attractive for content marketing strategists, and we may see Paper change the way in which companies target their brands to mobile audiences.

If Paper succeeds, it could influence other media companies to embrace the benefits of personalization in app design. One way in which companies further their user engagement efforts is through the collection of personal data. This can certainly help to increase the relevance of the stories you read, but be sure to remain wary of which apps you trust to hold your personal information. In addition, you could better ensure your privacy through the purchase of a comprehensive data protection plan, like the one offered by ProtectCELL. Ordinary mobile phone insurance may protect your physical device, but it will not cover your personal data to the extent that ProtectCELL's plans do.

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