Flipboard is one of the new generation of news readers that provide a slick app to let you subscribe to news and topics on media websites, blogs and other social media and social networks.
The latest updates make it really easy to create your own magazine by curating interesting content that you find.
There are already more than half a million user generated magazines available, most probably read by the editor and her mum. However, it is still potentially a useful tool for PR and corporate communications professionals. One important thing to remember is that although Flipboard call it a magazine, all you are actually doing is curating existing content and not creating new articles.
These are some of my initial thoughts on how corporate communications and PR professionals can use it:
Select your Flipboard sources
The first step is selecting the right sources. The easiest way is to simply to browse the categories in Flipboard to add your favourite sources. For example mine include the FT, Harvard Business Review and The Guardian.
Then you use the search bar to search lots of social networks, but more importantly it also searches for RSS feeds which nearly every media site provides. This means you can add your favourite and more niche business and professional websites and blogs. Rather annoyingly Flipboard presents these (most useful) results last so you have to click more and then scroll right down past all of the social networks to get to the best results. So to add this blog you can simply search for “Stuart Bruce” or “A PR Guy’s Musings” and it will appear in the RSS feeds list.
The RSS search frequently fails to find feeds for sites that have them. If the search does fail to find the exact publication you want then you can manually type the full URL of the RSS feed into the search bar. An easier way to do it is to go to the site in your browser and then copy the RSS link so you can paste it into Flipboard.
Within Flipboard you can also connect your other social networks including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr, SoundCloud, Seino Weibo and Renren.
However, a big time saving tip is you don’t need to add every source as you can also easily add content to your magazine using a bookmark from your desktop browser. To install it go to the Web Tools on the Flipboard website.
Create your Flipboard magazine and add content
Creating your magazine is as simple as finding the content you want to add in Flipboard and clicking on the + symbol and then choosing the magazine you want to add it to. They call this ‘+Flip It’.
At the moment it is still quite clunky and has a ‘beta’ fail to it and in the app the only way you can create your magazine is when you add your first piece of content.
You want to think carefully about the name. Remember you want it to be useful and interesting for readers so a descriptive title such as “PR and Corporate Comms News” is a better title for my Flipboard magazine than “Stuart’s PR Stuff”. You then want to write an interesting and compelling description. Mine is:
Public relations and corporate communications news and views for the digital and social era. Curated by international PR trainer and consultant Stuart Bruce.
Getting the title and the description right will make it easier for people to find you when they search and browse the user-generated magazines in Flipboard.
You will also want to go to the web tools page on the Flipboard website to add the browser bookmark tool that lets you “+Flip It” from sites you visit on your laptop.
On an Android phone or tablet you can also use the Share function to “Flip It” into your Flipboard magazine. You can also add a bookmarklet to your iPhone or iPad to do the same thing (although I haven’t tested this).
Curating the right content – including your own
The key to making your Flipboard magazine interesting is to curate useful and relevant content from lots of different sources. If you limit yourself to too few sources then your readers might as well read those publications rather than your curated one. Why listen to the monkey when you can hear the organ grinder?
The clever bit is to include some, but not too much, of your own content into your magazine. This should include:
- Blog posts – contrary to what the fashion-concious social media gurus will tell you blogs are still a very important channel for publishing your own content. They are one of the best ways to demonstrate expertise, in-depth knowledge and that old PR stand-by ‘thought leadership’.
- Mentions in news articles and features – in the good old days getting editorial coverage was only part of the equation. The bit that too many PR people missed was ensuring that relevant people actually saw these ‘press cuttings’. A Flipboard magazine is a great way of collating and distributing your online ‘clippings’. The fastest way to add them is simply using the ‘+Flip It’ bookmark in your browser.
- News – news releases, white papers and articles from your corporate website and social media news room. Remember that this isn’t always your most compelling content so be selective and only include the best content.
- Multimedia – you can include videos from your YouTube channel, photos from Flickr or Instagram, or even podcasts from SoundCloud.
Editing your magazine
You still can’t edit your magazine properly within the app, but Flipboard has now added a basic web editor tool. It lets you change the order of the stories and choose an alternative cover story. It also provides you with basic analytics showing how many readers and ‘page flips’ you’ve had, as well as how many articles you’ve curated. The web editor also enables you to create a new magazine.
Promoting your magazine
If you’ve given your magazine a good title and description then you should start to pick up some subscribers who find you directly via Flipboard. However, you can also help the process along by sharing the magazine directly with your contacts via any of the social networks you’ve connected to Flipboard. The short URL that Flipboard generates prompts people to download Flipboard and subscribe to your magazine. As with all automated services don’t just use the copy it generates, but write your own that says something relevant to your contacts.
If you are logged into Facebook the short URL it generates for you to share also shows some of your Facebook friends who already use Flipboard (or at least those who have connected it to Facebook). This means you can selectively send private messages to those people you think would be interested in subscribing. In the hurly burly of social network updates it is easy to miss what people have shared. As you know these people you should be able to judge if it is appropriate to send them the link via email, Twitter DM, LinkedIn message etc. But be sensible and don’t spam all your contacts with private messages.
And finally don’t forget the most important way to share content is still email. Simply email your relevant contacts and remember to include an explanation of what Flipboard is and why they should subscribe to your magazine.
Who uses Flipboard?
One downside is that Flipboard is only currently available for Android and iPhone so despite the fact it is a free app your magazine won’t be available to the millions of Windows Phone and Blackberry users. It’s also not the only news reader so lots of your potential audience might be using alternative readers such as Google Currents or Feedly.
Flipboard claims it has 56 million users with particularly strong markets being the USA, United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and Spain.
Please subscribe to PR and Corporate Comms News and let me know if you create your own magazine.