Flipboard is a free app for mobile devices that lets users browse content from publishers and social networks in an easy-to-use magazine-style format. It is available for phones and tablets running iOS or Android. The name comes from one of its most unique features, the ability to “flip” through “boards” of content as if they were paper pages. Since its 2.0 update, it has added a social network of its own, in addition to the existing ability to post to Facebook, Twitter and other popular social media platforms.
The new social tools allow users to curate their own magazines and fill them with content from almost any source on the web. User-generated magazines can cover nearly any topic imaginable, from broad subjects like technology or food to the most obscure niches. To create a new magazine, use your existing Flipboard sections or the search feature to find a piece of content that you’d like to share. Tap the “+” button, and a prompt will appear giving you the chance to add it to a new magazine (and give it a caption). You can then name your new magazine, describe it, categorize it and your chosen piece of content will appear in it. Then you can start adding even more content to it. Flipboard can display all kinds of media from text to video, so options really are limitless! You can even invite other users to help co-direct your magazine.
Flipboard Gets Social
Your magazine can be either public (visible to everyone who has the app or a web browser) or private (visible only to you). If your magazine is public, other Flipboard users can look through it, leave comments and subscribe to your magazine. They can also “like” individual items and even “reflip” them to their own magazines. You will receive in-app notifications every time one of these things happens, and you can use your notifications feed to look at your readers’ user profiles and add them to a friends list. You can also view their magazines. Another way to view other users’ profiles and magazines is to find them through Flipboard’s search tool or its “By Our Readers” section.
Flipboard as a social network is entirely based around discovering and sharing existing content – it’s curation as a form of self-expression. In this way, it is a competitor to Pinterest and Tumblr. It has an advantage over them in allowing you to aggregate into one place all of the social content you follow on the web, as well as creating a way to organize all of that content and share it, but it also has a few disadvantages. For starters, Flipboard has a weak presence on the non-mobile web. There is no desktop or web version of the software, although you can view magazines, add content to magazines (through a browser bookmarklet) and edit your magazine through a web browser interface. Another lacking feature is the inability to add original content to your magazine, unless you’ve published it somewhere else first (although Flipboard does let you post messages, photos, shared items, etc. to social networks).
The ability of magazines to have carefully hand-picked, custom-tailored material has good and bad sides. On one hand, it’s a great way to reach people who are into the same esoteric interest as you and create a community of sorts. If your magazine is private, you can use it to save bookmarks on a specific subject to read or refer to later. On the other hand, there’s a risk of creating a filter bubble in which perspectives are limited and dissenting opinions are silenced.
Flipboard for Business
So how can businesses best leverage Flipboard? Due to its content/network aggregation features, it certainly makes for an excellent social listening (and posting) tool. And with the new social curation capabilities, it can also be used as a branding channel. Say you bake homemade cat treats and sell them online. You could create a Flipboard magazine featuring content that your target demographic would like, such as photos and videos of cute kittens doing cute things, news articles about the artisanal craft movement, recipes for delicious human treats, tweets from people who handcraft other cat accessories, etc. All of these things add up to a collage reflecting the lifestyle to which your desired customers aspire and fleshing out your brand identity.
Flipboard has additional features, as part of its monetization efforts, that can benefit brands, though they’re not necessarily social. If you run a high-quality publication, you can partner with Flipboard to have it featured in the app’s Content Guide and display it in an optimized format when people view it in the app. Flipboard also runs magazine-style “full-page” ads if your brand works best with traditional advertising. If you sell products, Flipboard is rolling out a shopping feature in which users can purchase items directly from the app, starting with handmade goods market Etsy. So whether you create content or physical products, you have options.
With the rise of mobile devices, Flipboard is an established player in the news aggregation field, and now it’s an up-and-comer in the social network world. Its got a touch-friendly, innovative design and plenty of robust features to make it a good option when looking for a content curation app.
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