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Facebook’s ‘Paper’ App: What You Should Know

paperToday is Facebook’s 10th birthday (feel old yet?), so it’s only fitting that the Mark Zuckerberg-led team launched a pretty bold (and, in my opinion), beautiful reincarnation of itself just yesterday.

Universe, meet Paper, the app that’s meant to combine your traditional Facebook feed, complete with your friends’ photo albums, statuses and check-ins, with news stories from a host of respected, national publications in one experience.

Paper pivots around the abstract notion of stories, and its focus on this concept is quite successful. In its most basic form, Paper has all the functionality of the Facebook mobile app. But Paper is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor because it was structured with a mobile-first mindset, unlike Facebook, which had to be reimagined years after its initial design during the “desktop age,” Business Insider reviewer Jim Edwards wrote Monday.

“Paper appears to be Facebook’s answer to the question, ‘If we were to re-create Facebook as a standalone app that delivered a beautiful, simple, highly focused experience, what would it look like? Well, it looks like Paper,’” he continued.

After spending some time with Paper, I think there are just three things you should know about the app:

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Facebook’s Best Practices for Journos: Optimize Graph Tags, and Your Editorial Staff

When Facebook released their Best Practices guide for media last week, I admit I thought it was cute. In my world, I consider Facebook sort of my ‘private life,’ a space I reserve to share thoughts and internet things with people I actually know, whereas I consider Twitter my more public persona, where I follow strangers’ opinions. Facebook’s advice seemed like they were pointing out the obvious (‘have your content creators use the ‘Follow’ button’) in a last ditch attempt to make the social network as relevant as Twitter, especially in the wake of the all the ‘social media as wire service’ talk since the Boston marathon bombings and manhunt.

But that’s sort of a fallacy. In fact, one billion people still use Facebook, all the time. When I’m honest with myself, my newsfeed is just as full of wedding photos and lunch break musings from my real-life acquaintances as it is new posts and headlines from my favorite media outlets, just like Twitter. And Facebook is starting to get savvy about helping those publishers garner traffic and reader engagement. It’s not a bad product. 

Slate is the best example of a using Facebook to successfully engage their readers; it’s even the case study in the handbook. They’ve doubled their Facebook referrals between the second quarter of 2012 and the first of 2013. Read more

Facebook: The New Rolodex for Journalists

Our sister site SocialTimes recently spoke to Vadim Lavrusik, manager of Facebook’s journalism program. Lavrusik talked about why Facebook is the Rolodex of today’s journalists and how they can use the social network to report. Some of the takeaways:

 

 

Finding Sources
For finding people, journalists can type in phrases like ”College students in New York, NY” and “People who work at Facebook and like the New York Times“ to target a group of people if they don’t have a specific person in mind. From there, examining a person’s profile information such as a friends list or relationship status can be a starting point for verifying his or her identity…

Discovering Content
Facebook is also a good source of eye-witness videos and photos that journalists can discover and request to use in their stories, said Lavrusik. For example, a search for “photos taken in Breezy Point” conjures more 1,000 images of the New York City neighborhood that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012… Read more

Are Hashtags Useful?

Of all of the techniques, strategies, flotsam and jetsam to spawn from social media since its meteoric rise in the mid-2000′s, there may be nothing as polarizing as the hashtag. Some users utilize hashtags any chance that they get, others see them as an aesthetic and textual nuisance.

But the real question is: are hashtags useful in any real way?

Today, another social network, Vine, announced the platform-wide adoption of hashtag-focused organization and search. Vine CTO Nick Kroll wrote in a blog post for the company:

“To surface that content, we’re introducing trending hashtags, which show you the fastest-rising hashtags on Vine. These hashtags signify those that have moved up quickly in popularity; they aren’t necessarily the hashtags with the most posts.”

Using hashtags to track trends has been the mode of choice not only for Vine parent company Twitter, but also for Flickr, Path and Instagram. Last month, there was even talk of Facebook taking up the hashtag trend, though the social media giant has remained silent on the topic. On the surface, incorporating a searchable component based on hashtags is a helpful thing: users would be able to discover topics and search for what they want quickly, without having to bother with further context. Read more

Sharing Visually on Facebook: How Can It Get Readers to Your Site, Too?

I like photos. I tend to “Like” them, too. But despite my “clicks of approval” (read: we never really know what Likes mean), I don’t always click through to content when a news org shares an image.

Maybe everyone is more systematic than I am, but my Likes are pretty arbitrary. I’m calculated about a lot of things, but my commenting is pretty arbitrary, too.

Two things to healthily recognize here: “Liking” isn’t unvaluable to a news org, and neither is commenting. We can measure some value with those statistics and participate in a “Like science.” At the same time, measurement of engagement on something like Facebook may be inexact when you’re looking at all kinds of journalistic impact. (See good discussion on better measuring journalism’s impact here.)

Putting some of that conversation aside, if your journalistic meat doesn’t lay in Facebook’s garden, my gut is you want your audience to stay awhile on the content on your site. For whatever reason or combination of reasons—financial or philosophical.

If that’s you, here’s a good question worth considering: How do you share visually on Facebook and additionally draw in website traffic?

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