On February 3, Facebook launched a new mobile application called ‘Paper.’ The app was engineered by Zuckerberg’s team of tech-wizzes to change the way mobile users get their news, not to mention start to nose in on the huge journalistic market that Twitter has dominated for years. Twitter, home to 600 million active users, is used by 59% of journalists around the world to find leads and spread their stories. As for general users, 52% of all “tweeters” get at least some of their news from the platform.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the juggernaut that is Facebook. In the past few months, the social media powerhouse, host of more than 1.4 billion users, has implemented a surprisingly popular “trending” function. Frankly, despite early critiques that the move would be pointless, Facebook’s trending topics have proven to be more useful than Twitter’s. With ‘Paper,’ the Facebook team is undoubtedly hoping to one-up it’s strongest competitor yet again.
So far, it seems like the new app is on its way to ousting Twitter as the leading social media platform for news consumption. In the two weeks since the app’s release, ‘Paper’ has earned a loyal fan-base, including one Vince Horiuchi of The Salt Lake Tribune. In a February 14 article for the paper, Horiuchi writes, “Facebook has never been quite savvy when it comes to programming for mobile devices,” but goes on later to conclude that ‘Paper’ is a wonder of mobile engineering, both aesthetically and functionally.
That sentiment has been echoed across numerous outlets and by a slew of Facebook’s users. It seems that Zuckerberg and the gang are poised to make yet another improvement on what Twitter does best, just adding one more thing to the list of things people flock to Facebook for. With that being said, however, what impact will the new application have on the company’s advertising-driven bottom-line?
The Silicon Valley goliath posted $2.53 billion for its 2013 quarter four earnings, $1.53 billion of which was earned from its mobile users. That marks the first time more than half of the company’s earnings have come from its mobile efforts. With the release of ‘Paper,’ the question becomes whether or not mobile earnings will increase once advertising functionality is added to the app later this year. Will companies take the bait and sign on to advertise with Facebook’s new digital newspaper app?
“If Facebook is going to compete, they’re really going to have to bring a value add to the table to transition those customers over from Twitter, just like they did from Myspace,” explains Jesse Case, Creative Director at Skygate Media.
The early adoption and success of the app is certainly a good sign and a badge of honor that could go a long way in shaping the way marketers look to use the new app. As for now, time will tell whether or not ‘Paper’ will be better used for kindling.