How Publishers Can Create Hyperlocal Magazines Using Flipboard’s New Tools

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flipboard_logoThis morning Flipboard launched a new web application called “Flipboard Editor,” the latest in a series of tools that allow users to create magazines for the Flipboard app. The new editor makes it even easier for users to create beautiful magazines (of already existing content) that they can share with others.

Flipboard is (by far) my favorite way to consume content these days, and I’m not alone — the app claims over 50 million users. And as Flipboard grows out not only its aggregation tools but also its user base, it’s important that hyperlocal publications take notice.

Extend your hyperlocal brand to Flipboard
One way community publishers can use the app is to produce their own hyperlocal magazines on Flipboard. Prior to the recent ability to create your own magazines, a 2011 Street Fight article had recommended that hyperlocal websites create their own magazine on Flipboard using a workaround with Twitter. But using Flipboard’s new tools, this can now be done by adding selected local articles to a magazine you create. The benefit is more customization and an ability to sometimes add content that you didn’t produce. It took me less than five minutes to create this magazine for my local neighborhood.

By creating these local neighborhood magazines on Flipboard, hyperlocal publishers can extend their brand beyond their websites. While today’s announcement shows that Flipboard is committed to providing tools for users to aggregate content, there are still a few open questions/limitations that hyperlocal publications should be aware of:

Discovery — Right now there doesn’t appear to be a great way to discover new magazines based on your location. There is a local “City Zine” section but it’s not localized — meaning every user sees the same three featured publications. This is something that would be fairly straightforward for Flipboard to implement; the company could even just look at the location of people who read specific content and use that to recommend local magazines. But currently if a user wanted to find a local publication, they would have to either know that publication exists or search for the name of the city/neighborhood. This is clearly something that is happening as my “Orlando News” magazine that I created just to test out the feature for this column has 18 readers without me even doing anything to promote it or for this magazine for Chicago’s East Village. I have not doubt that Flipboard will continue to invest in better ways for users to find local content. It is worth noting that hyperlocal publishers could publish links to their magazines on their main websites so that readers might find them.

Monetization — For many hyperlocals their main source of revenue is display ads on their site. By posting content in Flipboard, it’s possible that users might bypass the site and never see these ads. However the way most content is clipped, once a user taps on the headline they are sent to your website. It’s still possible that you might lose out on some users and page views. I however don’t think that the solution is to not embrace Flipboard because of this. Instead I hope that Flipboard will provide a way for small publishers to generate revenue from the ads that are displayed with their content. Select publications are able to participate in a revenue share with Flipboard on ads sold. Flipboard’s head of Content and Communications Marci McCue shared with us that currently that while currently advertising on Flipboard is high-touch and limited to the select partners “later this year we hope to find new ways to help more publishers on Flipboard make money on the platform.”

Better Tools — Today’s announcement was a step in the right direction. Adding the ability to reorder and remove articles from your magazine and some insights on how many times an article is shared will make creating a magazine more enjoyable and streamlined. Some features I would like to see to help publishers would be an ability to auto-post from RSS feed(s), and analytics on what users are reading and not just sharing. Right now I can find out how many subscribers I have and how many flips I have gotten but not how many people have read each article. “We are in the early days of enabling magazine creation on Flipboard and we want to do much much more,” Flipboard spokesperson Marci McCue told StreetFight. She says we can expect tools both on the creation side that allow more than one user to curate a magazine and production tools such as one that would allow publishers to introduce their magazine via a letter-from-the-editor style format. “You’ll see more from us on this topic in the months ahead,” she added.

With the introduction of the magazine feature hyperlocal publications need to decide if it’s worth your time to “flip” each article you publish to create a magazine on Flipboard without any direct revenue. I think the main advantage beyond revenue will be extending your hyperlocal brand.

How to create your own hyperlocal Flipboard magazine
If you decide to create your own hyperlocal magazine the process is pretty straightforward.

First create a Flipboard account for your publication. This is what will show as the author of the magazine so if you want it to be “Smithville News by” then you should have your username be

Once you have your account you want to add the Flip It Bookmark on your web browser. Now when you are on an article you want to add to your magazine click the bookmark. Or you can click the plus button from within the Flipboard application. From here you’ll be able to create a new magazine and give it a title and a description.

Once you have your magazine you can keep posting articles to it from the web or Flipboard. You can also set a category by editing your magazine within the Flipboard editor. You can also promote articles to the cover so that you can use articles with great photos for the cover, set the order of your articles and remove articles from the editor.

MattSokoloffMatt Sokoloff is a 2012-2013 Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow working on a project to help publishers market their membership and subscription products. His background is in building digital products for media organizations. Read more about his current work here and respond in the comments or to [email protected] or @MattSokoloff on Twitter.