Three things magazines can learn from Flipboard
Any magazine publisher or editor will admit that no one has “figured out” the iPad magazine yet. Sales flagged early on; many tablet editions earned mixed reviews from readers and pundits. Just last Friday, Bonnier and ad agency CP&B released a study showing that readers fail to engage with iPad magazines and are easily led away to other applications.
But where major magazines and publishers failed, Flipboard succeeded. The gorgeously designed iPad app aggregates real-time updates from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other sources into a magazine-like format. It now has one million downloads, and more than half of its users are highly active. And as founder Mike McCue explained at Friday’s panel, “Flipboard: Game-changer or just a fad?,” the company now advises major magazine publishers on optimizing their iPad editions. Below, some of his tips.
1. Emphasize aesthetics. “The iPad is an opportunity to combine the realtime nature of the web with the aesthetics of print,” McCue said. Magazines should embrace that with clean layouts that “give content room to breathe” and replicate, or at least imitate, the immersive experience of print.
2. Update in realtime. Flipboard’s appeal lies in its currentness: the app looks different every time you open it. Compare that to most of the major iPad editions, where content is just as static as a print magazine. “The last thing readers expect is for that content to be old,” McCue said. “It’s glowing at you and looks like the Internet.”
3. Add social elements. Readers want to share and react to content, but aren’t always given the opportunity on tablets. McCue recommends sharing features and realtime elements that let readers engage with the magazine. He likes National Geographic’s Twitter list of Arctic explorers, which tracks current explorers on their travels.