Paper – Facebook’s boldest move into content marketing

February 14, 2014

By Alexis Cheong, strategy planner at Tribal Worldwide / DDB Group Singapore

Source: Facebook

For its 10th anniversary, Facebook released a US-only iOS app called Paper, which seems like Facebook Mobile in a fluid Flipboard style.

Reviews so far seem to be mixed – some are impressed with the intuitive, nifty-swiping interface design. Others feel that it is too gimmicky with the motion view of HD photos, and all that swiping seems more confusing compared to scrolling on Facebook Mobile.

If you have the nagging feeling that something is wrong with Paper, it is because there are absolutely NO ADS. A compulsive scroll through the posts from my newsfeed found no ads for hotels, credit card promos, manicures and blogshops that usually pepper my desktop newsfeed and even Facebook Mobile. Zilch! Perhaps a good lure for the savvy young to ditch Facebook Mobile and flow with Paper. Now what will advertisers think?

But that’s not the biggest news. The most interesting feature of Paper is actually the fact that Facebook has snuck in a “Sections” feature where you can drag up any curated content from public Facebook posts that are organised into Headlines, Enterprise, Tech, Pop Life, LOL, Score, Flavor, Glow, Exposure, Ideas, Equalize, Planet, All City, Well Lived, Family Matters, Cute, Home and Pride.

Wait a minute – it’s a double-take moment – Facebook is seriously digging into content.

With Paper, Facebook has gone into content curation and marketing. The reasons for this content play are compelling – content marketing is obviously not going away – in fact we crave more of it. Your friends’ and whoever’s posts (be it about their cat or from a brand) are no longer enough to keep you on Facebook. We’re seeing evidence of teens deserting the platform to go on other more visual/spontaneous channels.

Source: Facebook

With the launch of Paper, agencies and marketers will have to seriously consider getting into content co-marketing.

Source: Facebook

It’s no longer good enough to have those twice-a-day obligatory Page posts or even the Sponsored Stories you interject into a foreign newsfeed. Marketers now need to figure out the best partnerships with web portals, e-magazines, e-publishers or content producers to engage users keen to discover richer information, entertainment or video stories.

With this, Facebook is making a leap to be the largest media owner for content gatekeeping. And there’s ingenuity behind the app: it collects data on your content interests and sends it back to your profile database HQ. It’s something Google has been doing it for years based on what you are searching for. Now Facebook wants to get beyond knowing your demographics and relationship status to targeting your interests and passion.

The long-tail implication for Paper is that Facebook ads can get more personalised, smarter and sharper. Marketers can soon tap into precision targeting on user profiles, and hopefully they will also have more targeted ads to engage – better still, make that more interesting content to engage the right users.

Get ready for a brave new world online – only that it’s called Paper.

DDB tips for marketers:

1. Get more into content marketing on social media;
2. Tap into content creation and partnerships;
3. Prepare to pay for content to get through new social media gatekeepers on Facebook;
4. More targeted and varied Facebook Ads, one creative will not fit all;
5. Get used to it: Social Media is targeted media

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