One of the great things about the social media world is that there’s always some fun technology to play with. So it was with some interest I stumbled very late onto paper.li. You can check out the website here, but let me give you the lowdown.
Paper.li takes a Twitter stream, and turns it into an online newspaper-like format, complete with top stories, sections, topic areas, and even rotating live Twitter posts. You can create any paper you want based on 1) a Twitter account name, 2) any hashtag-identified topic, 3) any List anyone has made in Twitter.
So how can you use this for marketing purposes? If you are doing research on a topic and are looking for ideas for a blog (or for any content-related reason), you can either scan your Tweetdeck or Seesmic or Hootsuite – or you can create something that’s easy to read.
The paper.li option is the “something that’s easy to read” option. Here’s the downside though: it updates once a day. I know – that’s a huge downside … but it has its uses. Not everyone can stay connected to every topic 24/7 — and many shouldn’t even try. You’ve got businesses to run.
For those of you who have made custom Lists in Twitter – using paper.li to follow those less-frequently visited lists is great. Imagine checking in once a day to see what your list of the top-20 movers in your market had to say on Twitter.
Here’s what I absolutely do NOT recommend. There’s a “Promote” button on every paper.li page, and many people think it’s great to Tweet out the latest edition of their newspaper. Here’s the problem: all the Twitter update messages look the same. Meaning all the users of paper.li who hit the “Promote” button have the same message — it looks like spam, in other words.
So my advice is not to robo-tweet your newspaper updates. I think paper.li is a better tool for internal, behind-the-scenes monitoring. Sure, if you have several newspapers set up and you want to promote it, go ahead — but make it a manual post linking to a specific item. Just as if you were RT-ing anything else.
Don’t go overboard. Like many things, paper.li is just a tool. It has plenty of flaws. I’m not sure exactly what the algorithm is that decides what-goes-where when you create your Twitter newspaper. And I’m not sure I get how the separate sections are put together either. So — it’s just a snapshot in time. Still, I suggest giving paper.li a whirl.