Flipboard, a magazine reading software, is the newest player in the fight to shift some of the online conversations happening on Twitter to its own platform. Flipboard’s curators will be able to put original content into their magazine in order to interact with their users, the business stated today. The functionality, according to the business, will enable curators to build local communities centered around a specific theme or passion. In the end, this would convey a different vibe than posting to a more broad audience on Twitter.
In 2012, the social magazine app first made it possible for people to make their own magazines by locating articles and “flipping” them into publications that other users could subscribe to in their own feeds. With the introduction of the new notes function, curators will now be able to publish text notes, which can also include uploaded images or links, and they can even @mention other users to reach outside of their own community. Previously, curators could only share articles and other material.
According to Mike McCue, co-founder and CEO of Flipboard, “it’s kind of like putting a regular post on Twitter or Facebook, but it’s going into a magazine.” So it’s like posting to a little community, right? Additionally, it enables those who are interested in something, such as those who read this magazine or contribute to it, to connect with one another, interact, and foster a better sense of community, according to him.
The notes can be liked, commented on, shared, and flipped into other magazines. They have a vibrant, blue background to stand out.
The objective is not to develop another newsletter or blogging platform like Substack or Medium, although curators can write in the notes without worrying about a strict character limit—another change likely coming to Twitter. Flipboard’s notes are made to be longer, more akin to a Facebook post. They can be used, among other things, to create an opening to the magazine that resembles an editor’s note, or to ask the community questions and respond to reader questions.
The functionality, according to McCue, has been in development for about six months, so it wasn’t necessarily designed to profit from Twitter’s tumult, which has led some of its user base to experiment with Mastodon, Tumblr, Post News, Cohost, Hive, and other social apps.
However, he cautions that the timing of the launch may end up being a case of “preparedness meeting opportunity.”
Flipboard is not the only publishing platform that has recently targeted Twitter users. A similar goal of linking creators and readers in a community dialogue is served by Substack Chat, a discussion feature that the company also introduced in November.
However, in Flipboard’s instance, the objective might be to expand reach by incorporating a social component. The magazine app is a more established business, having been established in 2010 to provide users with a more refined news reading experience that is also tailored to their own interests. The firm currently states that it has more than 100 million active monthly users, however this figure also includes those who open Flipboard’s news emails in addition to users of the web and mobile. The inclusion of the community notes feature might inspire users who currently only read news via email to get back in touch with the app more directly.
Although the firm claims there are “millions” of Flipboard magazines available, only about 25–50% of them are active at any given time because not all of them are updated frequently.
The Recipe Exchange, The Travel Exchange, and The Photography Exchange are just a few of the Flipboard-run group magazines that the functionality was experimented with before its official release today. In experiments that started in July, social engagement (likes, comments, flips, and shares) increased by 40% from August to September and by 28% from September to October. Several curators, including the editors of the publications Photowalkers by Jefferson Graham, Hiking the World by Kym Tyson of 33andFree, and The Breadship by Maurizio Leo, also tested the functionality.
Flipboard adds that in conjunction with this release, a new Community tab will be added to the app next to its For You feed to highlight the top magazines and curators.
The notes functionality is now available on the web and will soon be available on iOS and Android as well.