Flipboard: The “Next Big Thing” for Public Relations

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Are you using Flipboard yet? You should be. The digital social magazine app aggregates content from across the web and displays it in lush, four-color magazine format. You “flip” the pages as you scroll through magazines created around the topics that interest you.

Entertaining. Impactful. Mobile.

Flipboard was introduced to the marketplace in 2010 and now has more than 100 million readers who have downloaded the app and, is adding 250,000 additional readers every day.

“Flipboard has been working hard over the last few years to build an app that makes reading stories on mobile and tablet devices as engaging as flipping through a magazine,” says Ryan Lawler, of techcrunch.com. “Those readers are flipping about 8 billion pages per month, and that number continues to grow.”

Flipboard combines the power of the digital and social web with the look and feel of high-end print publications—allowing it to serve as a bridge from traditional print to the digital world, especially helpful for those old school clients who haven’t truly embraced the web yet.

It’s also easy to use.

“Flipboard is doing for magazines what Twitter is doing for major newspapers; resurrecting a print medium by allowing readers to curate online and digital articles from a variety of publications that matter to them most,” says Mike Lizun, of PR agency, Gregory FCA. “The result is a customized magazine that users can share and promote across their own social networks,” he adds.

For individual use, Flipboard can replace your RSS reader and provide you with a seamless reading and viewing experience. Once you’ve established a Flipboard account, connected your social networks and chosen your topics, you can easily browse the newest stories, images and video by flipping from one to the next on your smartphone, tablet or desktop.

The glossy magazine look and feel and the flipping action as you turn the page makes it seem very familiar and even entertaining. “Flipping” or sharing articles, images, audio and video with your social networks is done in a simple keystroke with the ability to comment before sharing.

In March of 2013, Flipboard updated its functionality to include the ability to create and subscribe to virtual magazines based on their own interests—which was a game changer for many. With this ability to publish, and curate content from across the web, users began rediscovering the power of the Flipboard app.

“Magazines have been incredibly popular on Flipboard: The company says there have been more than 10 million of them created and curated by readers since launch,” says Ryan Lawler. “They can range from having just a few followers to hundreds and thousands of followers — and the top magazines have generated tens of millions of page flips from readers.”

“Flipboard has made the ability to use the app as frictionless as you could imagine,” says Digital Strategist, Amy Vernon. And, “While visuals are vital on Flipboard, the setup allows you to include all sorts of content that isn’t visual, as it will be interspersed with lovely photos and videos. You can set the cover to whatever you want, so you don’t have to worry that a photo-less article will grab the cover from you,” she adds. Amy Vernon also points out the impact of Flipboard’s recent sharing of magazine analytics with publishers. “I‘m able to see the impact it has each time I flip a new article into a magazine as viewership shoots up with new content added.”

Flipboard for Thought Leadership

For PR professionals, having the ability to quickly and easily create virtual online magazines has tremendous potential. Now, it’s easy to create a magazine that showcases your thought leadership, or serves as a portfolio of the work you’ve done.

“One of the most important rules of public relations is to think like an editor, and with Flipboard, you also become a publisher,” says Mike Lizun. “Not only can you use it to stay up to speed on what’s interesting to readers in your particular area of interest or expertise, you can also pair a blog post from your company in with an article from a major publication in your space.”

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Flipboard as a Portfolio

Where Flipboard gets really useful for public relations professionals is in its use as an agency portfolio of all online client mentions, including posts from bloggers, featured articles, press announcements, social networks updates and comments, video clips and images of client products and services.

“We use Flipboard for many different things,” says Janette Speyer, Vice President of Web Success Team and Hot Ice Media. “We’ve found it to be incredibly valuable as a tool to showcase online brand mentions for our clients, especially those who are not completely web-savvy,” she added.

“We create a magazine for their brand and then flip all online mentions into it and show it to them on a tablet. The uncanny resemblance to the familiar four-color print magazine is reassuring and then seeing the actual proof of what’s going on online is impressive to them,” she states.

“When they have this magazine they can flip through, with all of the different content about their brand, they feel a sense of relief.”

Flipboard for Public Education Campaigns

Janette has used Flipboard for her clients in other ways. She recounts the challenges faced when her client, Marukan Vinegar, a sponsor of #FoodieChat, was trying to introduce the product into more rural areas, to an audience who didn’t consider rice vinegar a staple and didn’t have any idea what to do with it.

Janette quickly created a Flipboard magazine called “The Many Uses of Rice Vinegar” to showcase how traditional Japanese seasoning can be used in cooking a wide range of recipes. She shared the magazine widely in her clients social networks and in the #FoodieChat Twitter chat.

To date, the magazine contains 101 articles and has generated 3,274 page flips, 1,006 followers and 191 viewers.

Flipboard for Introducing Products

For another client, the PopStar Club, Janette created a vibrant Flipboard magazine as part of a new product introduction.

“The Beatrix Girls is an innovative new line of collectible pop-star dolls driven by original music with wholesome values geared to empower your girls ages 4-9,” she explains. Her objective was to educate consumers about the availability of The Beatrix Dolls, who compete against established doll brands like Barbie and Bratz. Janette built out a Beatrix Girls Flipboard magazine, with links to video and downloadable music, that became part of a strategy to engage consumers to follow the escapades of the dolls, who have personalities and live and interact in the real world.

To date, the magazine contains 214 articles and has garnered 1,815 page flips, 1,005 followers and 400 viewers. The campaign continues to build momentum as the content is shared in the Flipboard magazine and throughout the social web.

Amy Vernon uses Flipboard to help support several non-profit projects near to her heart. One of them, “The Tutu Project,” chronicles a friend’s effort to raise awareness and funds for women and their families needing financial support during their breast cancer journey.

“The Tutu Project” magazine tells the story of Bob Carey’s work to support his wife after her breast cancer diagnosis by having himself photographed wearing only a pink tutu. The resulting photographs have been compiled into a book and an ongoing effort to raise funds to support breast cancer patients and their families.

Amy’s Flipboard magazine, “The Tutu Project” has 315 articles, and has generated 11,288 flips, 768 page views and 550 followers.

“The visuals are so powerful, and they show beautifully in the Flipboard magazine,” she says. “Each article links back to its original source, so readers can view the content there and purchase products or read further.”

Of course, Flipboard has been embraced by both brands and media and is being used successfully to provide the virtual magazine version of the traditional print publication, as in the National Geographic’s Flipboard magazine, which has 879 articles, 15 magazines and 22,774 followers.

Or the food brand Dole, considered the most followed magazine to date, which contains 115 articles, and boasts 687,626 viewers, and 328,123 page flips.

Flipboard is also being embraced by brands large and small as an easy way to quickly create an online catalog of products. Flipboard magazines can serve as online catalogs by showing images and product descriptions complete with price, that link back to the original website for fast online purchasing. The catalogs can be shared in social and embedded in the brand’s website for users who prefer to flip through an online catalog.

“If someone were to ask me what my pick for the Next Big Thing would be, I’d have to say Flipboard,” Amy says. “This is becoming the killer app for a social media world in desperate need of skilled curation.”

I agree. Flipboard is also the Next Big Thing for public relations and the creative uses of the app just continue to grow. If you’re not currently using Flipboard, it’s time to start. For help in getting started with Flipboard, visit the Flipboard tutorials. For more information on publishing on Flipboard, visit the Flipboard publishers FAQ page.

Image: Gustavo da Cunha PimentadieHauteCulture  (Creative Commons)

About Allen Mireles

Allen Mireles is a strategist and wordsmith with an affinity for technology. She lives at the intersection of social media and traditional marketing and public relations and never gets enough time in the garden. Find her on Twitter @allenmireles.

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