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iPad for Marketing App Review: Flipboard

June 22, 2011

Flipboard is a personalized social media magazine for the iPad that pulls content (mostly) from RSS feeds. Readers can add content personal to them: Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, and the news, people, blogs, and topics that pique their interest. Flipboard renders photos, callouts, and other design elements, sprucing up the reading experience. Readers can easily flip through articles and photos, comment on posts, and like or favorite what they read. I have to say, Facebook content has never looked so good. I love seeing photos and quotes from my friends splashed across the gorgeous iPad screen.

It’s not surprising that between March and May, Flipboard tripled daily usage – from three to four million flicks (turning the “page” in the app) per day to eight to nine million flips. Apple named it an iPad App of the Year and TIME called it one of the top 50 innovations of 2010.

The point is that the Flipboard app has legs – and it’s a viable marketing channel. It’s social, personal, and reaches a captivated, engaged, and self-selecting audience. And that means that your company should consider making its content available to Flipboard readers. For example, if you make 3D design software, you’ll want designers to add your 3D design blog to their Flipboard magazines.

Autodesk Labs RSS feed offers insight into this 3D design software company

Readers can add your company’s content to their Flipboard magazines in a few ways. First, they can search for corporate blogs, Twitter users at your company, Twitter lists, and people related to your company. Unfortunately, readers can’t type in a specific RSS feed URL – and the blekko technology powering Flipboard’s RSS search capability is a bit spotty. When I looked for feeds, the search found them only about half the time. Hopefully this functionality will improve over time; it was integrated into Flipboard just a few months ago.

Second, readers can also access your content via Google Reader. They simply choose what Google Reader sections they want to add and it’s pulled into Flipboard. It includes photos and images from the original feeds and looks just as compelling as content designed for Flipboard.

Finally, you can also get content into Flipboard by joining the ranks of those select publishers listed in Flipboard’s featured content section or in the other categories (magazines, news, business, tech & science, cool curators, art & photography, design, living, entertainment, sports, travel, food & dining, and style). Presumably, these publishers – from the Dalai Lama and Oprah to Rolling Stone and Houzz – are Flipboard partners. On its website, Flipboard notes that publishers can design their content for Flipboard. Flipboard Pages, a lightweight JavaScript engine parses content and lays out articles in their template optimized for the iPad. But unless you’re one of Flipboard’s select partners, you can’t use Flipboard Pages quite yet as they are not ““ready for a wider group of publishers to try this out.”

The Final Verdict

The reader experience: A. Flipboard presents content in a beautiful, compelling way and it’s fun to navigate.

The publisher experience: B-. Hopefully I can revise this grade soon. Flipboard doesn’t make it easy for publishers to learn about publishing to the app (the Flipboard website is quite light). Right now, it appears that only top-tier publishers are publishing directly to Flipboard. The good news is that as long as your company has an RSS feed, your company’s content may be found via Flipboard’s RSS search capability or accessed via Google Reader.

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