Examining the value of paper.li dailies

After catching this tweet from Chris Brogan: “Who is actually READING all these dailies that you all put out? How are they impacting your efforts?” I was compelled to explore and blog about it.

It’s a valid question if not rhetorical.

What is paper.li?

Simply, per their site, “paper.li organizes links shared on Twitter into an easy-to-read newspaper style format. Newspapers can be created for any Twitter user, list or #tag (hashtag).”

With the proliferation of ways to distribute and syndicate content, MarCom and other “socially influenced” professionals would do well to take a close look and determine if these dailies could be a tactical advantage to existing efforts, or if it’s just another noisemaker in the mix.

So I asked some of my Twitter follows who issue paper.li dailies for their thoughts.

Who is your target audience, why them?

@muchmor (Chris Toombes): Audience started off as just me. I saw the papers as a way to conveniently pull together in a neat summary important items from a particular list or stream. It enabled me to scan the paper for important items at a time best suited to my schedule at that particular time. Hashtags also work to some extent but often these are missed off of posts or more often than not many hashtags get used for the same item adding confusion. http://paper.li/muchmor

@franklyPM (Cola Richmond): I created the paper purely for my own needs so for a while didn’t promote it on Twitter… A few month’s ago I started a new job and I was so busy that I found it impossibe to dedicate any time to reading my Twitter feed. Aware that I was missing out on some good conversations I set about compiling a list of Twitter folk that specifically talk about things relevant to my work as a web project manager. Within half an hour of compiling my “WebPM” list on Twitter I had a daily paper that was interesting, useful, easy to scan and relevant to my work…My target audience is primarliy other web / digital project managers, but I am aware designers and developer are also reading it. http://paper.li/franklyPM/webpm

@AziVaziri (Azi Vaziri): I simply share the daily with followers who might be interested…No specific target audience. http://paper.li/azivaziri

Beyond enhancing brand visibility, what other leverage do these dailies offer; what types of results have you obtained?

@muchmor: Locally, I’ve seen an increase in people following me and re-tweeting the local paper I create and also seen others create they’re own sub-versions of the papers. I’ve also recently added the city paper to our magazine website and seen a lot of hits and had a few emails from mainly newcomers or future newcomers thanking me for adding a daily update of places they have settled in or thinking of settling to. Local news from real people is seen as a valuable resource for our readers.

@franklyPM: Project Management is a job that is seldom discussed in my industry and any information / conversations about the subject tend to get drowned out by the volume of content dedicated to web designers and developers. For this reason, I decided to make my WEBPM paper available to everyone and it’s now announced daily on my Twitter feed…I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from people I’m following, and at least one person a day sends a “Cheers for the RT” or “Thanks for the shout out” because my daily paper is not only promoting my industry, but others in the profession too.

@AziVaziri: For the most part, the mentions in my daily have generated conversations with people I may not have easily connected with. It’s helped me make new connections.

If you were part of the team evolving this platform, what recommendations would you bring forward?

@muchmor: I’d like to see “white label” versions and maybe an RSS feed driven version and even an iPad version in the same vein as “flipboard”. I’d also like to see more control over it’s content and better stats and reporting.

@franklyPM: The one thing I’d really like to see on the next rollout would be stats. Without any analytics data in place, I can’t tell if anyone is reading the paper, how they found it or if it drives traffic to other sites. Paper.li! I hope you’re reading this – hint hint.

Effort, stats and ads

It’s interesting that Cola would pick up on a term from Brogan’s tweet that also made me wonder about what he appears to be implying. Cola adds, “the only qualm I have with Chris Brogan’s tweet is the word ‘effort’ – it involves 10 minutes of list management a week and the rest is automated. No effort at all, to be perfectly honest.”


paper.li is designed to facilitate the dissemination of info not encumber you with additional work in your communications efforts. If it takes too long to get these out, then you’re either not using the site properly or Paper.li designed a poor product. I doubt it’s the latter.

Having the option to access metrics on readership, traffic, sentiment etc. is a clear item in the wish list for users. Also, I wonder if paper.li would entertain allowing users to create/customize ads, perhaps give them the ability to tweak hyperlocal to really showcase ads of companies/retailers/events within a discernible radius of their respective, immediate communities.

The value of Twitter’s clout

In my view, the fact that your Twitter follows configure their dailies to feature the content/news you tweet is testament to the value of Twitter’s clout.

I rarely watch the evening news these days as Twitter has practically become my real-time feed. That you would organize a daily of select tweets that read as cohesive, relevant news brings to light the power of virally driven information—information that are tweets!

So what’s preventing you from taking this model and applying it to say a targeted media campaign? You could easily scale and refine the content you choose to feature.

Still, Azi wonders,”..even before Brogan’s tweet, I’d been wondering if there’s real value in sharing the daily…I actually take a quick read through it in the mornings…and know that a few of my friends read through mine. I’m still undecided as to whether or not i’ll keep on sharing it.”

Do you issue these dailies? What has your experience been?

7 thoughts on “Examining the value of paper.li dailies

  1. I don’t use paper.li but I admit I love reading The Cola’s WebPM Daily every day, especially if I haven’t had much time to follow my Twitter stream.

    I like the interview-like format you’ve used in this post, Autom. Nice work!

  2. I find it very telling that so many of the people creating dailies are doing for themselves at first. I think it’s a great way to aggregate content that you’re interested in and if others like to see what you’re thinking about, so be it. Value is in the eye of the beholder.

    Great piece, Autom.

  3. I also have not used this product – though I see a lot of potential. I agree with some comments from the blog that it would be helpful to be able to add more than Twitter (RSS)…and of course, everybody loves stats.

  4. without stats we’d all just be fooling ourselves, right Mark? 😉 but yes, fundamentally, the cursory, newspaper-like feel to paper.li’s can be appealing both for internal and external audiences

    intriguing that bit on starting off dailies as self-service and then goes viral eh Dave?

    Cola’s daily is a well structured and cohesive set up for PM..true, Pachi

    thanks again for swingin’ by y’all!

  5. I enjoy poking through the various paper.li’s I see floating around Twitter, but I find their hit-and-miss track record for actually capturing signal from the noise to be a little underwhelming. (To your point, I agree that Brogan’s a bit off the mark about the ‘effort’ component – maybe there’s room for even more advanced controls, requiring more effort but actually resulting in better signal, for higher ROI?) I’ll admit I haven’t put a lot of time into actually trying to make them work for me – my zillions of TweetDeck search columns keep me pretty up to date with the news I need.

    Interesting timing for this post, as I just found an email update from Curated.by trying to sell me on some of their new features. Another service I was psyched for, but haven’t been able to make considerable use of.

    I think there’s definitely the market interest for a “killer app” to sweep through this space, but my gut says the options available right now are beta versions of what could be truly terriffic game-changers.

  6. There are some paper.li dailies that are worth checking out and others that are a waste of time. I have certain ones bookmarked (pm, testing, businesstalk)that I check out to catch up on what happened on Twitter when I wasn’t looking.

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