In the last two years, Pinterest (with all of its pinning and repinning) has taken the blogging and search worlds by storm. It’s great for inspiration, collecting and creativity. Flipboard, on the other hand, started in a different place—collating your social feeds into a smooth and super enjoyable digital layout on the iPad that hearkens back to the good ol’ days of magazines and newspapers (Periodicals! FTW!). In the last couple months, though, Flipboard has pivoted directly into Pinterest’s home turf, launching their “Magazines” functionality that turns users into editors who can “flip” articles from their social feed into their own curated collections.
As an avid Flipboard and Pinterest user (and probably the only man in his mid-30s who can claim both?), I gave Flipboard’s new features a whirl. Would I like it? Hate it? Would it pull me away from all my botanically-brewed ginger ale recipes on Pinterest? Or would I find that Flipboard has over-reached with this update?
I started with an easy first step for me: A magazine about cars. Vintage BMWs, in fact. I spent, oh, about a million hours coming up with a clever name and then started “flipping” images and articles into my first magazine: Bimmerazzi. With a few weeks (and a few more magazines) under my belt, I’ve gathered a few observations:
1. The user experience is great.
Flipboard has always excelled here, so it’s no real surprise. The transitions and button layouts are well thought-out. It’s easy and intuitive to quickly build a mountain of content without any disruption to my daily content consumption habits. In short, they’ve added a ton without taking anything away from the experience.
2. They’re connecting users with the right content.
Whatever Flipboard is doing (algorithms! math! robots!) to connect readers with relevant magazines… well, they’re killin’ it. In a few weeks, I’ve attracted exponentially more readers on my magazines than followers I’ve gained after almost two years of Pinteresting.
3. The layout is the key.
As much as I love the strict content grid of Pinterest (Adobe’s even adopting similar layouts/terminology for their Marketing Cloud UI), there’s still something comfortable and welcoming about the editorial layout of Flipboard’s pages. It’s a subtle differentiation—but the layout focuses the experience on the content instead of on the curator. On Pinterest, I pin and collect content that represents me and my personal tastes. But my Flipboard magazines aren’t really about me. Bimmerazzi is about BMWs, not about how cool I am for liking them.
A final thought: Maybe this Flipboard pivot represents social content turning a corner—a change from the inward approach of pinning and back-patting (I’m so awesome for finding this!) to a more giving community where editors create and curate with the outward purpose of providing something of value for their readers.