Remember when we used to write actual letters and mail them to people or create stories by typing on a typewriter? Well, none of that is coming back, but Facebook wants you to feel the nostalgia for a moment before you launch Paper, their new “storytelling” app.
Paper is the first app to come out of Facebook Creative Labs and it’s a beauty. At the core, it’s a curated news reader and so, I suppose, is Facebook. But Paper is elegant and bold and simple and intuitive. It’s about content not clickables. As I writer and reader, I couldn’t be more pleased.
I’ll tell you what Paper does, but you really need to see it in action to appreciate the beauty of this app.
You move content around by swiping side to side with your thumb or sliding upward. The upward movement causes certain items to unfold as if you were opening a newspaper. It’s a freaky, 3Dish effect that totally tickles me. Stories literally unfold before your eyes.
When viewing large photos you can tilt your device and get a panoramic view. You can also pinch to expand and apparently tilt photos for a closer look.
Everything you open is full-screen. No messy sidebars or buttons or headers or nonsense. Just content.
You choose your content by customizing sections. The app comes with a selection of themes and interests such as Headlines, LOL, Pop Life and Planet. Choose the ones you want to create your own custom newspaper.
In addition to content from a variety of news sources, the app also gathers posts from your Facebook friends. It’s a beautiful way to share longer posts and collections of photos but it’s okay if you just want to write a one-liner, too.
What I don’t know is how you get to be a featured content producer. Maybe those slots are reserved for only the big names like the New York Times and CNN.
The introduction also doesn’t make it clear whether or not everyone in your Facebook newsfeed will show up on your Paper feed. I can’t image that’s the case. If it was Paper would be nothing more than a prettier version of the Facebook app. Then again, maybe that’s the whole idea.
The app won’t be released until February 3 so it’s hard to say how this might fit into your marketing plan. But here’s one thing I do know, this app has the potential to take off. It’s like Instagram but with lots of text!
Paper gives people the ability to present the whole story with video and pictures and words. . . actual words. Remember when we used to use those to communicate?
Paper is unlikely to be a tool marketers can use for mass messaging – but there’s an intimacy about it that could help you reach your most influential customers.