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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