Is Facebook Paper a Sign that Facebook is Targeting their Older Users?

by on February 19th, 2014

With Facebook launching a news related stand-alone app, it is not only imitating the existing Flipboard news app, but also attempting to create a more ‘mature’ Facebook experience for its users. When referring to the term ‘original users’, the term applies to 90’s kids. The Generation Y, who were the first to explore social networking in its infancy. Facebook has just turned 10, with the majority of its users signing up in 2006-2007, after the University email address only restriction was lifted. In that year alone, Facebook went from 12 million users to 50 million users. Facebook was cool and fresh when it started. Most importantly, it was a whole new way for people to interact with each other. Ten years on and Facebook has survived law suits, privacy issues, and cat pictures and it will continue to outlast passing trends, such as ‘NekNominations’ and Selfies.

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However, the big issues currently facing Facebook are competitors and the fact that Facebook just isn’t as ‘cool’ as it used to be, leading to a decline in younger users. Most of those high-school kids who signed up in 2006 have grown up, graduated University and are now young professionals in the working world. The current content of their Facebook feeds include news articles, links to viral posts titled ’25 things you notice in your 20s’ and, in a personal case, the increase of wedding and baby pictures which are forcing me to address the issue of my own relationship status.

Facebook’s decline of popularity amongst the younger generations should not be as alarming as some articles are making it out to be, especially as it is still gaining older users and is managing to retain current users. The introduction of Paper is an attempt to pacify current us and targeting older users who want a more intellectual experience and it’s maturing with its existing user base By launching Paper as a stand-alone app, Facebook also leaves users to try it themselves, without forcing it upon its users like other version updates that then lead to a massive outcry (remember when timeline was introduced?) and several days of all your friends posting endless statuses complaining about it.

The design is impressive as ever and there are several nifty UI features. A feature that stood out the most, was the panoramic photo viewing possibility, where moving or tilting the phone proceeded to show more of the picture. Facebook paper appeals to Facebook who aren’t teenagers due to several simple features. Paper still includes the three famous Facebook symbols, so that friend requests, messages and notifications can all be viewed. The news feed feeling still exists, but it feels cleaner, offers more emphasis on single posts and ignores the tedious boring life updates of those who you wonder why you are still connected to them on Facebook.

Paper offers a mix of friend’s updates, selected news varieties and the news selected by the Facebook editors. Paper, like Flipboard, allows the user to choose what news varieties they want to receive. This personal news optimization is of added value in the current age of information, where there are so many new news stories being pumped out over the world that an overview of personal interest and keeping up with relevant breaking news has become rather hard. With this new app, Facebook has effectively launched a new version of itself.

After years of being bombarded with advertisements, reminders that a certain friend likes a certain page and pointless posts of your parents reaching a new level on a farming game filling up your mobile screen, the chain might just have been broken by Facebook themselves. Paper seems to be another big evolution for Facebook, showing that it is not afraid of reinventing itself. The timing of this release also comes at a critical point for Facebook in light of a recent Standford university study that Facebook There are those users who do want to see all of their friend’s activities, share funny cat pictures, engage in status debates and see what links their friends post.

These users will use Paper when looking for new topics or content. But there is also a trend emerging of users who want to see their friend’s posts and less of the rest. In a way, a more sophisticated approach to social media. This sophisticated approach will be a welcome re-invention of Facebook to the users who want more control over their newsfeed. These will be the users who will relegate the existing Facebook app into another folder on the smartphone screen. Facebook Paper will attract and engage users who want to be aware of new developments while being in touch with their friends; who want to dwell on their friend’s updates and not just have several statuses crammed into one vertically scrolling feed while swiping over irrelevant adverts, shared videos and baby pics. Paper could well be the future Facebook, because several users who pick it up, will be uninterested in reverting back to the current version.