On May 13, 2015, Facebook rolled out “Instant Articles,” a unique new content format meant to speed up Facebook’s news feed. According to Facebook itself, Instant Articles were “a new way for any publisher to create fast, instant articles on Facebook.”
Because they load 10 times faster than standard mobile articles typically taking only approximately 8 seconds. Instant Articles earn 20% more reads. They also make people less likely to abandon said article (by about 70%). While the implementation of Facebook Instant Articles was a proactive step by the social media giant toward enhanced UX – it wasn’t one that everyone understood.
If you’re one of the many marketers who is still confused by or entirely unfamiliar with Facebook Instant Articles, here’s everything you need to know about them.
The Mission of Facebook Instant Articles
Before we dive into the essential functionality of Facebook Instant Articles, let’s talk about why Facebook chose to develop them in the first place. Designed to load much faster than standard mobile web articles, Facebook Instant Articles were meant primarily to cater to Facebook’s increasing number of mobile users.
Today, Facebook has upwards of 1.66 billion monthly active users who access the platform from mobile. 1.1 billion of hose access the site daily.
What’s more, a whopping 1.05 billion of Facebook’s total users are mobile-only. It was clear that the social platform had to do something drastic to cater to all these people. Things like embedded auto-play videos, testing newsfeed layouts that offer multiple news sections, and vertical scrolling are all signs of Facebook leaning into its mobile users. However, Instant Articles is the significant change that proved the platform’s loyalty.
In addition to catering to its mobile users, Instant Articles is also a way for Facebook to build and maintain dominance in the online publishing world. Facebook Instant Articles are hosted on Facebook’s servers. This means that not only do publishers have complete control over their content, but they also enjoy more of their ad revenue. 100%, or 70% if they sell ads through Facebook. Additional benefits include exclusivity and increased visibility. They also offer a streamlined way to handle technical glitches that may appear during the publishing process.
Through Instant Articles, Facebook does two critical things: enhanced the mobile experience for millions of people who access the social platform from smartphones or tablets, and changed the face of online publishing forever.
How the Instant Article Works
To get an idea of what Facebook’s Instant Articles look like, check out this Hype video released in 2015:
To create Instant Articles, publishers must first sign up. From there, publishers are required to develop an Instant Article and submit a sample before they can begin publishing. When an article finally goes live, it uses Facebook’s pre-loading technology to load almost instantly. Designed for mobile users, pre-loading technology allows an article to begin loading as a user approaches it in the Facebook News Feed. As soon as someone clicks the article, Facebook immediately displays the top portion of it, loading the bottom portion in a split second afterward.
In addition to pre-loading technology, Facebook Instant Articles also strip most analytics and advertisements out. This allows them to load even faster. Don’t let the stripping down frighten you, though. Instant Articles are beautiful, vibrant, and interactive – not hollowed-out shells of content. You still see the publisher’s logo, a “follow” button, additional photos, image galleries, videos, and more.
Instant Articles can also feature geo-tagging, audio captions, and allows users to like/comment on photos within the story. This increases the articles’ chances of going viral and enhances the user experience across the board.
3 Steps to Using Facebook Instant Articles for Your Business
While Facebook Instant Articles may not be a great fit for all companies, they’re a fantastic option if you already get a good deal of your engagement from Facebook, and want to enhance it. To start using Instant Articles, follow these tips.
Sign up with Instant Articles:
- Assuming you have an existing Facebook page, head to the Instant Articles website and sign up for the service. You’ll be asked to select the page you intend to use Instant Articles for, and agree to the terms and services agreement
Claim Your Instant Articles URL
- The next step in the Instant Articles process is to claim the URL you want to use for posting articles. Typically, this URL is the same as your blog URL. To call dibs on your URL, you’ll need to input some simple code into your HTML <head> tag. Sound complex? Don’t worry – you can find a complete walk-through of the process in the “Settings” tab of the Instant Articles page.
- The significant benefit of Instant Articles is that it streamlines the online posting process. They make it easy to publish content directly from your Content Management Platform of choice, rather than creating posts in WordPress, for example, and then re-creating them for Facebook.
- To start publishing, just link your blog to Facebook Instant Articles using the social platform’s publishing tools. For WordPress, this involves downloading a plugin.
- For sites that aren’t compatible with Facebook’s publishing tools, you’ll have to connect with an RSS feed. Once you’ve linked your CMS with Facebook, you can customize the look and feel of your articles to match your brand.
Facebook Instant Articles: The Top Tier of Facebook Marketing
Instant Articles offer serious perks for both publishers and users. If your business already gets a fair amount of engagement from Facebook and you’re looking for ways to enhance that in the New Year, Facebook Instant Articles may be exactly what you need to take your digital marketing to the next level.
Need a trusted partner to help you in your digital marketing pursuits? Contact Thrive Internet Marketing today.