What brands should know about Facebook’s Paper

The new app enables users to view updates in a newspaper-like format. Here’s a run-down of the app, as well as ways to keep readers’ attention online.

The Internet has changed the way we communicate. This became increasingly true with Facebook’s announcement of its new app, Paper.

Paper will allow users to view Facebook in a way that is more like reading a newspaper (with short updates, news stories, photos and videos) than scrolling through a social media feed.

While the news feed revolutionized online communication, Paper takes it to a new level.

What does this mean for the way your brand communicates with its followers? How will marketing change with new tools that shorten users’ attention spans and ability to focus?

Keep reading.

The app

Available in the iTunes App Store, Paper is an alternative to the traditional Facebook app, which allowed mobile users to quickly digest comments and updates while interacting and doing other things.

Paper separates Facebook posts by type and content, like a newspaper or online magazine. It simplifies searching, and makes it easier for users to find the information that’s most relevant to them. It takes short pieces of content to a new level.

The need for focus

While Paper is changing social networking, it is also changing the way brands interact with their target markets on social media. From companies developing contractor accounting software to law firms to medical practices, the paradigm shift has been apparent for a while. The need to stand out among a sea of distractions is necessary for any online branding initiative to be a success.

In a book entitled “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” Nicholas Carr makes this even clearer. Apps like Paper change the way online users interact with information by modifying and shortening our attention spans.

A few of Carr’s findings include:

  • Readers have difficulty comprehending information when there are too many links in an article.
  • Online readers are less likely to remember what they’ve just read compared with those reading hard copies of text.
  • On-screen distractions, like scrolling text and advertisements, make information retention difficult.

Put simply, new social media tools make information retention more difficult than ever. This means brands must work harder to establish credibility while driving home specific points or action items.

How to modify online content

For a brand to succeed online, engagement is critical. Engagement is the reason many users venture into social media in the first place. Brands must put effort into retaining their readers’ focus.

Here are a few tips for doing so:

  • Remember, less is more. White space is more effective than flashing animation, scrolling text or ad boxes. Use it to help readers focus on your content.
  • Use subheads, bullets and short paragraphs to make online information easier to digest.
  • Keep pages short. Use navigation arrows to eliminate the need for scrolling.
  • Forget long introductions. Get to the point right away.
  • Use descriptive words when linking to outside text. This keeps readers on your screen while you give credit where it’s due.
  • Stick with a conversational tone, not a formal one. Online users are looking for ways to communicate.
  • Use videos, graphics, infographics and other forms of multimedia to get across specific points. These content types are more memorable and engaging than text.

Apps like Paper may make it harder to focus, but it’s still possible. Consider the information above when you craft branded content, and remember the need for repetition and clarity. Paper could work to your brand’s advantage when you use proper sharing techniques.

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