Paper.li Breaks My Indifference Threshold

paper.li LogoFor several months, I’ve steadfastly ignored any tweets informing me that a user’s “Daily is out!” But that changed a couple of weeks back when I “earned” a mention in my friend Ajay’s virtual paper, breaking my indifference threshold.

My interest was piqued and so I started asking the Twitterverse about paper.li, the free online tool that Ajay and others are using to re-format their Twitter stream into a virtual newspaper.

Background
Create your newspaper for free–that’s paper.li’s call to action and aptly sums up the service. The tool culls your Twitter feed (and, as of early December, public Facebook accounts too) and kicks out a vanity URL (http://paper.li/tbains) with a subset of pages that mimic the look and feel of online newspapers. All of the “stories” are links that the people you follow have shared.

The settings can be tweaked so that you send out a daily, morning and evening edition or a weekly update to your followers. You can also customize the name of your paper, changing The *Tracy Bains* Daily to The *Diamond Cut* Daily.  To promote your personalized paper, set up automatic tweets that are published whenever your paper updates.

Followers can subscribe to your paper or, in turn, you can bookmark papers that you’d like to revisit regularly.

Screen grab of a paper.li daily

Pros

  • Simplicity: Authenticate your ID and the paper populates itself. That’s as easy as it gets.
  • Style: The pages are sleek, easy to scan and professional. A beautiful design means a higher likelihood of return visitors.
  • Clever Micro-Promotions: Your top “contributors” will get special @mentions in the daily tweet set up to alert users that a new edition awaits. Just as I did, these folks are likely to get curious, RT the post, read and/or subscribe to your paper–extending its reach.
  • Promising R&D: Paper.li is taking off. Eleven days ago, it co-won LeWeb Startups Competition in Europe, coming in #1 for Virality. Last month, Guy Kawasaki joined its newly created Advisory Board. During the summer, SmallRivers–the startup developing paper.li–got a fresh infusion of cash from a new set of investors. Awards, celebrity advisors and money aren’t a guarantee of future success in themselves but they are promising signs.

Cons

  • No Mods: At the moment, you can’t tailor your page in terms of which links (and therefore contributors) get featured or the sections included in your paper. I want granular control of what goes up and/or who gets the “hero treatment” in my paper. But Iskander Pols, paper.li’s co-founder, recently responded to a similar comment on the site’s blog, indicating they “are looking into offering more control” to publishers.
  • Few Stats: In mid-November, paper.li started posting the number of unique views and subscribers each edition garners. Nice start but I want to know who the subscribers are or, at least, their demographic breakdown. And I’d love to be able to generate a comparison of subscribers versus Twitter followers–is it the same? Different? Etc.

My Prediction
When I started researching paper.li, all of the reviews talked about how the service offers the user a new way to consume their own Twitter feed. Even paper.li describes itself as “a great way to discover content that matters to you–even if you are not connected 24/7!”

Why would I give up Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or even New Twitter to view my tweets? I wouldn’t.

But a smart marketer would see the value in judiciously following industry experts who generate top-notch content that could be aggregated to create a quality paper. You could easily augment the content that you are carefully producing and posting on your blog and/or corporate website with a well-planned Twitter paper populated with industry news, trends and links.

If paper.li continues to stretch and grow, the first-movers who build credibility within their niche for consistently curating good content will outpace their rivals.

Resources
Hungry for more on paper.li? Check out these articles or add your own in the Comments section:

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16 thoughts on “Paper.li Breaks My Indifference Threshold

  1. My hesitation is precisely what you identified – lack of granular control. I tried paper.li a couple times now and couldn’t bring myself to press the publish button because I just wasn’t quite comfortable with all the content on it. I should try a 3rd time though and see if I can’t figure out a way to make it work — because I want it to! It’s fun, pithy and I want to claim the moneycoach space! 🙂
    nancy (aka moneycoach) recently posted..My best Christmas present ever

  2. Tracy,
    A) Thanks for the ‘@’ that brought me here. I like your take on the application. As mentioned when I first replied to your query about what I thought of the concept I think I had said that I thought that some people didn’t ‘get it’. That was about as much as I could elaborate in 140 speak. What I was trying to say is that when someone gets a mention about being included in a daily, if it is their first time, that probably aren’t sure what to make of it. Maybe they had a tweet quoted. Maybe they had a reply or discussion thread about a particular topic that was picked up for it’s unique relevance. I think that some people are a little disappointed to find that their inclusion was caused merely by a link to some juicy content posted by someone else that they had shared. Others may be unsure of what to do? What exactly ‘is’ the etiquette for being a good spreader of others content? Surely the original poster wouldn’t mind…It is just another way of moving their message just a little bit further to the top of the list…or would they?
    Much to ponder. I think that with a wider spread use more people will ‘get it’ and it will be accepted as a great way of culling out choice content without spending hours hawking your stream.
    B) Also…Glad I found you here…Just subscribed via rss feed.
    -J

  3. Also, Also… Love the screen grab. I enjoy looking at what others see when they aren’t using the same ad blocker browser extension that I am. Oh the ads I miss.
    -J

  4. Nancy: I’m going to wait until paper.li has brought on-stream new features that allow users to exclude, include and feature users as each publisher sees fit. I’d also love to see them allow us to create papers not based on our full complement of followers necessarily but perhaps by list. For example, I might create multiple lists on different subjects that each require their own paper. In the meantime, I’ll focus on becoming a better curator of content.

    John: Although I think the “micro-promotion” tweet that includes @mentions is a good idea, I strongly agree with you that the halo effect is short-lived when folks realize that it’s automatically generated. I hope paper.li allows users in the future to set the top stories and, therefore, the top contributors to be highlighted in the tweet.

    In terms of the etiquette required of good curators, I think this is a fascinating question and something that we can as users create, discuss and append. It’s bigger than paper.li and it’s within our sphere to shape and influence.

    And the ads…I imagine that paper.li is earning revenue at the moment from these spots. Will there be a trickle-down effect with users who earn them more clicks? What if a user doesn’t wish to participate? In my day job, I work for a public institution where corporate advertising would be damn out of place. I hope that paper.li will allow me to create an ad-free version of my paper.

    Thanks for subscribing, John! And to both of you for salient comments!

  5. Hi Kate,
    Tx for dropping a note here on how you found the article–I’ll have to thank Social Butterfly Solutions.

    I’m keeping an eye on paper.li and I’ll try to write a follow-up when SmallRivers announces major new releases/functionality. Glad you found the article of value.

    Tracy

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  10. The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

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