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Create a Custom Social Media Newspaper with Paper.li

by Monika Jansen on February 25, 2011

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Last year, I stumbled across paper.li, or someone stumbled across it for me—I don’t remember—and I’ve been meaning to write about it. Paper.li allows you to read your Twitter and Facebook streams as a daily newspaper.  It’s a great way to consolidate online conversations, thus making it easier to engage in the conversations you care about, and you can also use it to brand yourself or as part of your marketing efforts.

First, a little about paper.li.  It was developed by Small Rivers, a privately held startup founded by was co-founded by Edouard Lambelet and Iskander Pols in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Creating a newspaper is pretty easy and is configurable depending on how you want to use it.  You have 5 options, which you can see in the screen shot below:

The best options are based on your Twitter feed:

Twitter Stream-Based Paper

This option allows you to create a paper based on your Twitter account and is composed of your tweets and your follower’s tweets.  The navigation bar at the top of your paper continually changes based on the subject matter of the tweets streaming through your account. You can edit the paper’s title, schedule the update time, and even choose to promote your paper.

Hashtag-Based Paper

This is the one I think could be most useful for marketers and companies interested in engaging with their Twitter audience, rather than just broadcasting on Twitter.  Enter the hashtag when creating hour paper, and if a paper has already been created based on that hashtag, you will be pointed automatically to that paper.  The downside of this is that you have no control over the title or publishing schedule, but, hey, you’ll be getting the information you want anyway.

List-Based Paper

This option also has huge marketing/branding/engagement potential.   You can create a list-based paper on a specific topic for a specific audience, thus creating a super-niche social media newspaper.  Or, you can set up the paper so it only includes your tweets: Create a list, tweet to that list, and use that list to publish the paper.  With a list-based paper, you can edit the daily title, schedule publication times, and promote your paper. (Yes, you can create multiple papers for multiple lists.)  This has lots of potential, especially around branding.

Customized Twitter Paper

This option that lets you use more complex Twitter queries, specify lists that can contribute to a paper, or create a more focused hashtag-based paper.

Facebook-Based Paper

This one is still evolving, but it’s also useful the way it is now.  You can create a paper based on simple search terms that scan public posts.  The limitations: specific pages cannot be scanned to create papers, but according to their blog, the Paper.li team is gathering user feedback on this.

I looked up papers based on the search term Social Media.  Here’s what I found.  I clicked on a few and quickly discovered that the quality of the content varies widely.  You can judge the content by the tag cloud on the right.  The first one I clicked on had a bunch of celebrity gossip and useless information on it.  The second one was about social media for business.

Would you use paper.li to help you monitor conversations, create a paper for branding/marketing purposes, or both?  Leave a comment below!

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