Thursday, October 21, 2010

Twitter Papers -- Multiple Applications


I've recently started using a free service called paper.li that allows users to create "newspapers" by aggregating content from Twitter. Papers can be created for any user, list, or #tag.

Here's an example of my paper, the Penning Ink Daily.

I set it up to take content from my users. I follow a lot of nationally known PR gurus, West Michigan PR pros, PR professors from around the country I've met at conferences and through social media, and a wide variety of news organizations. So my daily is useful as an aggregator of my Twitter content, in newspaper format. But, it is an aggregator--i.e. using a formula that grabs what appears to be the most interesting and relevant of the tweets that had links to text, photos, or video. So, I am surprised sometimes at the content of my own paper.

But, it certainly has its uses. I can scan quickly the days "top stories" with links to key hashtags, such as #pr, which opens up another whole range of stories tagged as such. If I don't have time to be on Twitter frequently on a given day, this is a great way to review things quickly, and in an online paper format.

I also have the ability to promote it, which I do in the hopes that students and colleagues might find it an interesting read. Although, in time, everyone may have their own paper and only the ones who have taken the time to curate the right people to follow or targeted lists or hashtags will have many users besides themselves.

To that end, here are some good uses of paper.li that I have seen or thought of that go beyond a personal aggregator:
  • Education--Dawn Gilpin, a PR professor in Arizona, built a Twitter list of her students and has them post with links. Her daily paper is a project for her 'JMC 310' class;
  • Conferences--make a paper.li daily of the official hastag of a professional conference. It automates the "if you missed the conference" web site and crowd sources blogs and other commentary and recap of the best sessions;
  • Businesses--make a list of key employees, managers, vendors, industry thought leaders and be the focal point of commentary on your industry on Twitter (note: not all about you);
  • PR Firms--make a list of clients, media you work with regularly, a hashtag of issues you are working on, or a list of key industry trades etc. PR Firms are increasingly becoming "publishers"; this is another way to do it;;
  • Newspapers--duh. Yes, newspapers and other "mainstream" media have web sites, apps, and reporters on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. But here is another way to aggregate content and serve readers and potential readers in another channel and method.
When TIME magazine was started in 1923, founders Britton Hadden and Henry Luce said in their prospectus that people were overwhelmed with information and there was a need for a weekly summary of news content, a news magazine. At the time people were "overwhelmed" with newspapers, tabloids, magazines, and a new technology called "radio."

Today, the case that people are overwhelmed is even more obvious. Paper.li is just another way to handle the flood of info. Only this time, it will not only be journalists who can do so.

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