Flipboard: A Place to Share Articles in a Magazine Structure
How Does Flipboard Work?
Flipboard was launched in July of 2010 as a social news magazine to organize and share content found on the web. Articles, videos, and photos can be listed in magazines that users can flip through with the smartphone app or browse via the Flipboard website.
Anyone can create a free account and “flip” articles into personalized magazines to save for future reading or to share with others.
Flipboard automatically features some flips, as they are called, in areas of the site where people find them when searching for news or information.
Of particular value to authors:
We can flip our own articles into magazines that we create to organize our content under various topic categories. Flipboard's terms of service state that we can flip our own content.
You can "flip" any article by copying and pasting the URL into a magazine you created on Flipboard. I'll explain this below.
Share Content on Flipboard by Curating Your Own Magazine
The main purpose of Flipboard is to share news and informational articles found on the web by flipping them into magazines of various topics.
You can share useful information with your followers whether or not you wrote it yourself. I made a separate magazine called “Great Articles That I Found” and I flip articles there that I think are useful for others.
I’m focusing this article on how authors can make use of this site to promote their articles.
Readers who like something they see on Flipboard might re-flip the article into their own magazine, increasing the likelihood of someone else finding it.
Finding Content on Flipboard
Flipboard has become a great resource of information in an easy-to-find format with many people creating magazines.
When you flip articles to magazines you are a curator too. I follow other curators who I know make an effort to organize useful magazines.
I discovered informative articles from the web that I would have missed if it weren’t for all the wonderful curators of flips.
Flip Your Own Articles
Flipboard features flips of articles based on the category their bots detect from the domain. Because of this, writers on HubPages discovered that only articles in the niche network sites did well.
Articles on the niche sites get featured because they get tagged into topic categories, where those who follow specific topics can see them. Articles in the home domain of HubPages never seem to get tagged in topic categories.
Comments are Effective in Influencing Search
It's crucial to include a comment with each flip to attract search traffic. When sharing other flips, describe why you liked the article and why you recommend it. When flipping your own content, provide a brief explanation of what to expect from it.
How to Set Up Your Flipboard For Best Results
Create Your Flipboard Bio
When you create your account, you will see a section in your profile to include a bio. Write something that clearly describes what you do. You'll get more traffic because the bio is included in the search when people are looking for something or someone specific to their interests.
I found that the length of the bio is unlimited on the website, but only displays 245 characters on the app. I suggest you limit it so that it shows the entire bio in all cases. Most traffic comes from mobile phones these days anyway.
You should also upload an image of yourself; otherwise, only your initial will appear in a circle on your profile, and that looks incomplete. Just click on that initial, and it will let you upload your image from your computer.
This is how my profile looked after I completed it:
Create a Magazine
After you completed your profile, you can start creating magazines to flip your articles. Just click "NEW MAGAZINE" from your profile, as shown above.
You can make a magazine for each topic you write about or other articles you want to flip. I found it's much easier doing this on the website than with the app.
Give each magazine a name and a description. The description is optional, but it is useful since it helps people find your magazine in a search, and it helps the system tag the articles to the correct topic category (more on this later).
Flipping Articles Into Magazines
The next step is to add your articles to your magazines. Click the pencil icon at the top to flip.
You'll get a pop-up titled "Add your voice to a magazine," and it has a field saying, "Write a comment or add a website to your magazine."
Even though it prompts you to write a comment or add a website, it's important to remember that you only want to add the URL of the article you want to flip. Don't write a comment. I also recommend not typing in the URL as you may misspell it; it's best to copy and paste it instead.
After you paste the URL, you also need to click on the magazine you want to flip into, as shown in the image below:
Click “Post” at the lower right and you're done.
How to Organize Your Flips
This is really a worthwhile thing to do occasionally. You may want to move certain magazines to the top so that they are more noticeable.
- You can drag flips around within magazines to display in different orders.
- You can select one of the images from any flip to be the main image of that specific magazine.
- You can drag magazines around to control the order of the display under your profile.
You need to click "refresh" on your browser after making any changes to see the updated magazine.
How a Flipper Follower Sees Things
Many people use Flipboard to find news and information.
Users can select categories of interest to follow, or they can follow other members. They can also create their own magazines to save articles to share or to read later.
Their profile lists their magazines that they have created, and they can find the topics and people they follow by clicking “FOLLOWING” from the top of the home page, as shown here.
Users can also select “COVER STORIES” from the top of the home page. This displays articles that are within the topics they follow.
Once they click into a category, selected stories are presented, which they can flip through just like the pages of a magazine.
Automatic Tagging to Topics and Featuring Articles
When an article is added to a magazine it is automatically tagged to a topic and featured in that category on the site. That helps get views because the article appears in the topic list as people browse what they are following.
Which Articles Get Tagged and Featured?
Not all articles are tagged to topics. As I mentioned earlier, authors on HubPages discovered that only articles in the HubPages niche sites are tagged, not those from the hubpages.com home site.
Articles flipped from sites other than HubPages show a wide variation in whether they are featured or not. It may depend on how well trusted the website is for having quality.
Once a flip is tagged to a topic, it gets featured on a rotating schedule. One of my articles got over 3000 views on the first day by being featured, but then it dropped drastically. Another article suddenly came to life a week later and then dropped off. We never know when flips get featured or if they will ever get featured again.
Incorrectly Tagged Topics
There is no way to tag things ourselves. It's automatic.
Unfortunately, in some cases articles are tagged to the wrong topics. Some are absolutely silly locations, and that negatively affects the chances of getting traffic.
Some of us have tried updating our articles, removing or changing content that might have been causing the Flipboard bots to choose misleading keywords.
However, these efforts don't work right away because of another issue. Flipboard uses caching, which delays any change. The delay has lessened in recent years, but it may be weeks before the bots notice your changes.
The Importance of Using Captions for Topic Tagging
Adding a caption description to each flip is important so that Flipboard correctly tags the flip to the correct topic category. It tries to choose keywords from the content, but it also uses the caption data.
Any change you make to an existing caption will not be reflected immediately since their server does not re-crawl very often to detect updates. They told me that the frequency is based on how much traffic you're getting in the first place. Those with high traffic will be crawled more often to detect any updates.
This is why it's important to plan ahead of time and have a good title on your article and a good caption on the flip before adding it to a magazine.
Delays With Updates to Flipped Articles
As an author of your own content, if you make changes such as a new title or remove content that had caused it to be listed in the wrong topic category, you need to wait for Flipboard to re-crawl to detect the updates.
If you delete the flip and add it back to the magazine, it will reappear with the old data because they use a cached copy and the old content is reused.
I asked the support staff about that, and they confirmed their server saves a cached copy of all flips. The server will check the original content occasionally and will automatically use any changes that are made. How often and how soon depends on how popular the feed is with each individual flip. Therefore, you just need to be patient when making changes.
Lately, I discovered that Flipboard is finally updating its database more frequently. When I changed a title on an article, for example, the change was updated on Flipboard within a month. In the past, it never was updated.
Notifications of Followers and Likes
When people follow you or one of your magazines, or like your flips, you will receive an email notification if you opted for that in your settings.
You can also see all recent notifications by clicking the bell icon on the website or clicking "Notifications" in the app.
Here is a sample of how that looks:
What Are Flipboard's Rules?
You Can Post Your Own Content
Flipboard does not explicitly say anything about self-promotion, but the Terms of Service (TOS) clearly state, "you can post your own content on Flipboard, including articles, photos, comments and other content."
Those who may be familiar with Reddit will know that they have strict guidelines against self-promotion. On Reddit, if you just start submitting your links it will be unwelcome and may be removed as spam.
Pinterest also has such guidelines, so it's a good rule to begin with flipping other people's articles when you open a new account. Then gradually add flips of your own content.
Stay abreast of the Flipboard community guidelines, just in case they decide to make some rules entirely against self-promotion in the future.
What Does Non-Commercial Use Refer to in the TOS?
Another section in the TOS states, "Flipboard gives you a license to use the software for your own personal, non-commercial use."
I'm not an attorney, but in my opinion that wording refers to the usage of their software. That means the app and the website tools should only be used for your own purpose and not for a business flipping other people's content for financial gain.
The wording of that TOS statement does not exclude flipping commercial content, such as articles that pay revenue for ads.
Permission to Use Your Content
The terms also give Flipboard permission to use your content in a way they believe is necessary to provide service. That includes storing, displaying, reproducing, and distributing your content.
The wording of this section of the TOS simply means that the listings and other content can be displayed to provide the service they intended and reproduced for backup purposes to maintain the integrity of the system.
There is no need to worry about duplicate content. Flipboard does not display copies of your flipped content. They only post comments and descriptions you add to flips.
Theories About Flipboard Traffic
Articles That Answer Questions
I have a theory. We know that we get traffic from Google when people search for something that we have an article with the answer. However, traffic from Flipboard can happen merely if the title and primary image grab attention, as is the case with the title I used for the article shown below in the Google Real-Time report.
It started getting 10 to 20 views per minute. I caught it at 18 real-time views in the screen capture shown here. That added up to over 3000 views in the first 24 hours, but then it quickly died down.
Traffic Comes in Spurts
Flipboard traffic seems to come in spurts. That seems to be the routine for most listings. It appears that Flipboard rotates things around, so you never know when you will get a spurt of traffic.
I started getting a lot of Flipboard traffic for a poem I published. Organic traffic for poetry is one of the most difficult things to achieve.
Readers View More Than One Article at a Time
Notice in the Google Real-Time report above (see two images up) that some readers from Flipboard are viewing five or more articles in a single visit.
I never saw that from Google's organic traffic. People searching for information via Google tend just to read the one article they found.
Managing Your Magazines
How to Edit a Magazine
Things are different depending on how you access the site:
- If you use the mobile app, click the gear icon to edit a magazine.
- If you access the site on your desktop browser, you need to click the word "EDIT" that you will see below the main image of the magazine.
- If you access the site with a browser on an iPad, the EDIT link is not there. You can edit a magazine by starting at your profile and click the Analytics icon. Then select the magazine from the list on the left side. You will see "Edit Magazine" right under the image of the magazine.
How to Delete a Magazine or Individual Flip
Flipboard does not organize the maintenance options very well, and it’s hard to find what you need when you want to do simple tasks.
If you ever change your mind and want to delete a single flip from one of your magazines, or even if you want to delete an entire magazine, follow these steps:
- Go to your profile page.
- Click the analytics icon (looks like a little graph).
- Select a magazine from the left column.
- Click "Edit Magazine."
To delete the entire magazine…
Click "Delete Magazine" at the lower left column.
To delete just one listing…
- Select the Flip you want to delete.
- Click "Delete" at the lower left (see image below).
Note that you can also follow these steps to edit and change the caption for the listing.
Managing Your Flips
If you set up a magazine of articles you didn't write, you have to keep an eye on it. Every once in a while, an author will delete their content. So I need to clean up now and then.
It's easy to remove a listing from a magazine. Just edit the magazine and click the "X" at the top right, as shown below.
Tweeting Magazines: How Twitter Supports Flips
I decided to put out a tweet about the magazine I created, and I was pleased to notice that it included a Twitter Card. That’s a feature that displays more information and a related image on any tweet anyone does.
Twitter provides HTML code that webmasters can implement to display a Twitter Card when people tweet a webpage. Many webmasters use that on their websites since it adds additional traffic flow when people tweet.
Here is that tweet of mine. See how the Twitter Card shows more detail? Nice, don’t you think?
Make Flipboard Your Personal Magazine of Everything You Follow
Cover Stories – Follow What Interests You
When you click on "Cover Stories" you get a feed of everything you follow. I use this a lot. Flipboard is very useful for organizing everything on the web that I’m interested in reviewing later.
Twitter Lists – Organize Your Twitter Feed
I also created a magazine of my most important Twitter Lists. These are lists you can create in your Twitter account to organize your feed with specific news items.
Now those lists can be flipped into a magazine and I find that scrolling through that magazine is a lot friendlier than the raw listing on Twitter.
I even made a magazine of "Tweets Mentioning Me" so I can quickly find them. Flipboard dynamically fills that magazine the same way as it fills the Twitter feed into a magazine.
Other Social Networks – All Under One Roof
In addition to Twitter, you can connect Flipboard to up to 11 other social networks to organize your entire reading material under one roof. That includes Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr, and more.
Use Flipboard to Organize Research Studies
Flipboard is a great tool to use when you’re doing product research.
For example, say you are looking for product comparisons for something you want to buy. You do a bunch of Google searches, and you find a few articles discussing the product. If you flip each article into a magazine you created for that research, you’d have a neat organization to review later.
A Flipboard Bug: Articles Attributed to the Wrong Author
In February 2018, I noticed that some of my flips had an attribution to another author. When I investigated, I saw what was happening.
Other author's articles are listed on the right column in desktop view on my articles, and Flipboard took the author's name from there to use for attribution of my articles.
I decided to delete all the incorrect flip listings. And in some cases where the problem was extensive, I removed entire magazines.
If you use Flipboard a lot, then I suggest you review your old flips and make sure they are correct. Remove any that have the wrong information.
Flipboard Security Breach
Flipboard had a major security breach announced in Forbes Magazine in May 2019. They discovered a hacker who was lurking on its servers from June 2018 until April 2019. During that time, the hacker might have stolen passwords from 150 million users.
Those at risk were anyone who used the same password on other sites that they used on Flipboard.
I always use complex meaningless passwords, and I never use the same one twice. So I probably was okay. Nevertheless, I didn't feel comfortable about the hacking, and I deleted my account.
Nevertheless, I am sure that Flipboard is more diligent now after having had that experience. So everything I discussed here is still useful, and well worth it for you to consider.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2016 Glenn Stok