There's no doubt that when Facebook first introduced the "news feed" back in 2006 — a real-time chronicling of your friend's activities, interests and favorite articles — it was something of a revelation. In some ways it marked the birth of social media as we know and refer to it today in that it allowed the rapid, viral proliferation of content across a user's entire "social graph" (i.e. network of friends).
Twitter took it up a notch by allowing that proliferation to happen in a matter of seconds with far greater social reach. But now there's a new killer app in town, and it may become the next must-have social media channel for organizations and individuals working to engage with and grow their audiences online.
Flipboard makes social media pretty ... beautiful in fact — something that cannot be said for clunky Facebook or hashtaggy Twitter. Though the two online brands have emerged as the "Coke" and Pepsi" of the social media world, they still leave a good portion of the general public in the dust. (If you've ever attempted to explain Twitter to your grandparents, you know what I mean.)
Flipboard, on the other hand, does in some ways what AOL did for e-mail in the early days. It makes social media accessible to a mass audience. Even our grandparents, if equipped with an iPad, would have no trouble "getting it" — a sexy magazine that is updated daily via recommendations from friends and family. It's a no-brainer, and it accomplishes the remarkable task of integrating personal media (like shared photo albums) with more universal content like breaking news, sports scores and weather reports.
My first prediction: if Flipboard overcomes its server demand problems (which according to CEO Mike McCue will happen in the next couple weeks) and opens up its API to allow branded Flipboards (thus skirting copyright infringement headaches) — a year from now there will be few major brands without an option to subscribe to content via Flipboard.
My second prediction: iPad will benefit the most financially from the Flipboard app, which may just be sexy enough to warrant a new wave of iPad purchasing. I for one am on my way out to go get one.
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