We Are Unimpressed By Your Paper.li Daily

What it looks like...but you'll never see me publish this!

If there’s one thing that really gets my goat, it’s unfocused communications that represent the least possible effort.  It irritates me so it made me lapse into a royal-like “we” in the title of this blog post.   Now, you know I am irritated 🙂

I can forgive errors or misguided decisions from the truly inexperienced but well-intentioned.  But not laziness, and not from experienced marketers.  Good communication takes effort; there really are no shortcuts for it.  Even writing an effective Twitter update takes thought, skill, and effort.

One of the worst communications vehicles to emerge in recent memory are the canned daily digital papers circulating on Twitter, created through applications such as Paper.li.

If you’re not familiar with this social networking form of junk mail, here’s how it works: the application extracts content from the people you follow on Twitter: links to articles, photos, video, whatever.  The application compiles a newsletter-style assemblage of random articles, supposedly based on recurring keywords found in the tweets of people you follow, along with other promoted articles (filler) and advertising.  The user then publishes (or has the application auto-publish) the digital paper on Twitter (see photo).

The practically no-effort result is

  • Generic in design: they all look the same
  • Random in content focus
  • Content is difficult to control
  • Difficult to scan; overly long
  • Not targeted to an identifiable audience

In essence, they break nearly every basic rule of marketing communication.  And people put these out under their name on Twitter every day!

There is another danger, and that is lack of control and the impact it can have on your brand.   A perfect example just happened in the last five minutes.  I checked out a daily put out by a conservative PR firm this morning on Twitter.  They happen to be following a comedian on Twitter.  So, because there is little control unless you use the lists feature (which can be problematic), this morning, Paper.li automatically generated and featured on their Paper.li front page  a video from the comedian’s YouTube Channel.  And you know, this comedian can be offensive. The video title and image would be considered insulting to a large demographic group.  The PR firm can’t preview and edit content before the paper is published.   And I feel certain, knowing what I know about them, that it’s not what this PR agency (or any PR agency in DC) would have chosen to put out there in their communications.

Listen, these canned dailies are not a substitute for a blog, or thoughtful commentary.  They will NOT position your business as a thought leader or as a source for news, because your company did not generate, or even curate, these articles!  Don’t do this, just because everyone else is doing it.  This is one social media bandwagon you do not want to jump on.

I don’t take them seriously at all, and I doubt whether anyone really reads them.    Everyone knows what they are and how they are produced, and that they require the least possible effort.  That does not exactly inflame me with a burning desire to read it.

If you have a business and you are trying to establish a name for yourself on Twitter or Facebook, my advice is don’t be tempted to sign up for these flimsy communication vehicles.  Instead, redirect your effort to an activity that will truly establish you as a thought leader: write a thoughtful and well-organized blog.


About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on February 24, 2011, in Social Media Tips, Twitter Tips and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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