A new app is changing the way people use Facebook. What does that mean for nonprofits?
Facebook’s new app, Paper, is getting lots of attention in the social media world. The app looks different from the Facebook app that’s dominated mobile usage up to now. Much like a newspaper, the app lets users browse different news sections. The first section is their Facebook feed, and users can choose up to 9 other news sections like technology, humor, and even cute animals. The content in each news section (aside from the personal newsfeed) is curated from different outlets by teams of people at Facebook.
Paper replaced Facebook’s familiar vertical scrolling with horizontal browsing, which allows users to flip from story to story by swiping left or right. Designers also discarded Facebook’s blue-and-white color scheme in favor of a more sleek, modern layout. The app is heavily focused on visuals, which means that it’s particularly well-suited to image-based posts.
Paper’s reception has been pretty favorable. Although users aren’t able to control the news stories they see in their different sections, the app’s minimal design and lack of ads is appealing to many. Combine those with the ability to use most of the original app’s features in a less clunky interface, and you’ve got an app that’s poised to change the way people look at Facebook forever.
So what does that mean for nonprofits?
Nonprofits who run brand Pages may have a hard time reaching supporters who are using Paper. Right now, anyway, brand Pages don’t make an appearance in Paper feeds. This news comes on the heels of Edgerank updates that already limit the reach of unpaid Page posts. Nonprofits who aren’t paying to boost their posts or buy ads are already seeing increasingly lower reach and engagement. If the app takes off, it could be a troubling development for nonprofits who rely heavily on their Facebook Page to communicate with their fans.
On the other hand, Facebook seems to depend on advertising revenue from brand Pages to keep their shareholders happy. It will be interesting to see how they balance keeping users, already tired of endless advertising on their feeds, and earning the revenue they need from paid posts and advertisements.
What should nonprofits do with this news?
First, don’t panic. Paper is a new app that, while it’s neat-looking, isn’t widely used right now. It’s only available on iPhone, too, which limits the number of users that can use it. Even if audiences switch to using Paper, users can choose to see Page updates in their feeds. Keep using Facebook to tell your story, engage your fans, encourage conversations, and recognize your donors and volunteers.
Second, keep an eye on the effectiveness of your Facebook posts. Paying attention to your Facebook insights can help you determine the posts your fans like best. Adjust your posts to appeal to as many of your users as possible. You can also consider including another social media channel like X or Instagram in your social media strategy. Whatever you decide to do, make sure your website is up-to-date and easy to navigate. Social media is often an effective way to communicate with your donor base, but your website is the most important online real estate you have.
Social media is an exciting and ever-changing resource for nonprofit communication. Facebook Paper is shaking things up a bit; we’re excited to see where it goes!