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Flipboard: Marketers Take Heed

January 5, 2011 , ,

This week I am guest blogging over at the Content Marketing Institute, giving you a round-up of the Top 9 apps for iPad (the “9” is really annoying you OCD/round number people… shake it off!). My top-pick among the group–and something every marketer needs to demo asap–is Flipboard. Sometimes called the social magazine, Flipboard aggregates content from your favorite sources, plus things your friends are reading, and puts it all together in a glossy magazine format. If you really want to understand how it works, watch the demo video.

When I first gave Flipboard a test run, I swear the Apple tagline echoed through my head: “This changes everything.” I say this because as practical as RSS feeds and listening posts may be, they are poorly designed and tend to suck the life out of content that is otherwise beautifully presented. Flipboard acts as a content aggregator, but manages to preserve the tactile feel of a magazine because photography, video and artwork are considered a critical part of the content experience. On the other hand, my Google Reader account reminds me of when I worked for a newspaper in Boston’s Chinatown as a teenager and I was asked to cut up articles and actually paste them (yes, with real glue) to a storyboard. The end result was messy, overstuffed pages.

Marketers: if you produce content as part of your marketing mix (9 out of 10 in B2B do it), are you paying enough attention to information design, graphic design, illustrations? We are crazy-bombarded with information every day, and I would argue that most of us are becoming experts at tuning things out. How many e-newsletters do you open from your email box? How often do you take the time to read a research report or a case study cover-to-cover? When researching a B2B company to hire for your business, how much time do you spend on their website gathering information? I would argue that great design is a lubricant: helping your customers/prospects to linger. And with apps such as Flipboard gaining in popularity, design becomes a crucial element of content creation.

What do you think? Does your organization value the role of design in content creation? Have you tried out Flipboard?

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Clare, thanks so much for this. Here are some thoughts:

– It seems like it only plugs in to Facebook and Twitter right now, which is limited. And while it seems that they will open to this to publishers-at-large soon, there is a void for other social influencers like non-profits to produce content. So it seems that publishing content via Facebook and Twitter is the only meaningful option right now.

– It’s only available for the iPad right now. I hope to see it on other tablets and on laptops soon. It seems like a more graphically-oriented version of Tweetdeck (thought slightly less powerful than Tweetdeck on first glance).

– I am a total believer in the power of compelling graphics to communicate content. Corporations, even the federal government, has effectively used graphics to communicate the message (did you see the interactive State of the Union this year?). But again, being in the non-profit world means a seriously limited marketing budget and/or squeezing talented designers for low-paying gigs. So what are mission-based organizations to do? It’s obviously not your question to answer, but it’s a real question for me and people in my position. I like how Flipboard seems to alleviate the need for organizations or individuals to design the graphics, instead choosing just to use the direct content.

I’m waiting for the iPad 2 to come out next month, and will look forward to playing with Flipboard then.



Aaron Desatnik

February 6, 2011

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