The content aggregation platform, which lets users create their own magazine-like packages with aggregated content from other sources, is bringing together regional publishers and national stories of local interest through the new Local initiative.
At launch, Flipboard will offer local coverage on news, sports, dining, weather, real estate and transportation in 23 cities.
"We wanted to bring them all together because it is really part of what shapes your day,” Marci McCue, vice president of content and communications at Flipboard, told Publishers Daily.
Flipboard’s Local hub will include content from regional newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, college news sites and blogs. It will also feature national publishers’ coverage of local topics, such as coverage of Denver's food scene from Vox Media's Eater brand, for example.
Flipboard tested the initiative in Toronto last spring. The team found that when users were shown the “Toronto” topic and followed it, they were 10% more engaged. They were “finding stuff that really meant something to their day,” McCue said.
“People who are engaged locally are engaged nationally,” she added. Research shows readers trust local news more than national news.
Since the Toronto test, Flipboard has added hundreds of sources to the platform. Content will come from a combination of machine learning, RSS feeds, Twitter feeds and editorial curation. Flipboard can recommend local stories to followers of the relevant cities, based on their IP address.
The initiative serves as a way for larger publications to reach regional audiences via the Flipboard platform.
“We applaud Flipboard’s thoughtful efforts to elevate local news to its users and are delighted that two of our largest metros, the Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee, will be part of this inaugural initiative,” stated Jessica Gilbert, senior director of product and experience at McClatchy.
Some publications curate Flipboard magazines — which can serve as verticals on the platform — to organize their content based on local interests and relevant city topics.
The Miami Herald, for example, has 15 different Flipboard magazines, ranging from The Miami Heat to Cuba.
The Mercury News has 37 magazines on topics like The San Francisco 49ers and California Wildfires.
When articles are tagged by publishers, Flipboard’s topic engine classifies the content and surfaces it to people interested in related subjects, driving traffic to publishers' stories. Now, when new users download Flipboard in one of the 23 cities, they will be offered the Local section as an option to follow.
Existing users will find the city sections in the Explore Tab inside the Flipboard app.
Flipboard is also using topic recommendation cards in users' feeds to encourage them to follow their city. For the first time, Flipboard will also email its users in those 23 cities.
In the future, McCue wants Flipboard to let users “tune” their local content, allowing them to choose "more Houston food and dining content, less Houston sports," for example.
“The goal is to expand to micro communities, where you only have five to 10 bloggers aggregating content for the area," she said.
McCue wants users to be able to “get more granular" too. For example, someone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area can follow news about Palo Alto. “This is just the first step,” McCue said.
The first 23 cities to be a part of the initiative are Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington, D.C.