Instant Articles are a new way for publishers to create “fast, interactive articles on Facebook”.
Speed has become a key ingredient in today’s social age. The terms engagement, responsiveness and instant are dominating the space. People seem to be obsessed with likes, shares and comments. Messages are sent to brands without proper reflection.
If you manage to pause for a second, you might ponder upon the following questions:
Does speed trump thinking?
Does speed trump etiquette and integrity?
Technology has made it easier for individuals to communicate with businesses from all over the world. No matter what size your business is, or what industry you’re in, if you have a Facebook account, people can message you. It’s that simple.
Let’s have a quick look at consumer behavior, shall we?
By now we know that people…
- like to hang out on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Co.
- prefer to stay logged in on all the social platforms
- consume more and more content via their mobile phones
- want fast access to information whether that’s video, audio or in a written format
What about the providers? What do companies like Facebook, Twitter and Co. want?
For one, they want to keep users in their environment. The more you stay in the Facebook environment, the more you’re exposed to content and ads provided by Facebook. The likelihood of you purchasing something increases.
Therefore, building a seamless user experience has become crucial to all these social platforms. And this is where Facebook Instant Articles come to play.
Content Marketing is King
A lot of people misleadingly think that content marketing equals blogging. Nothing could be further from the truth. Video is content marketing. Audio is content marketing. Podcasting is content marketing. Articles and press releases are content marketing.
Facebook knows about the power of content marketing and continues to invest heavily into video, audio and written content. Integration is key, and if you look at how Mark Zuckerberg runs his business, you understand why cross-channel thinking has helped him build an empire.
At this year’s Facebook Developer Conference F8, Mark Zuckerberg announced Instant Articles to being rolled out to all publishers. Previously, only a select few – mainly large media companies such as for e.g. National Geographic or the BBC could publish their articles on Facebook.
The good news:
As of April, any publisher can publish Instant Articles.
What are Facebook Instant Articles?
Instant Articles allows publishers to share their blog posts on Facebook by delivering a fast and immersive reading experience for users who access your articles from a mobile device by clicking a link. The content loads super fast.
On top of that, publishers can use Instant Articles for monetization purposes.
Here’s where you can sign up for Instant Articles:
How to Become a Publisher on Facebook in Three Steps
1. Prepare At Least 50 High-Quality Articles AKA Blog Posts
Before you start the Instant Articles process, make sure you have at least 50 quality blog posts on your website. Yes, 50 is a must, a requirement from Facebook. However, to be on the safe side, I recommend you have at least 60 high-quality articles in place.
And here’s why:
For one, you might encounter some heavy coding issues on the Facebook side, or your articles won’t display the way you’d like them to and are requested by Facebook. This is often the case when you use several different media sources in one blog post such as slideshows, a podcast player, an embedded video, all kinds of social share buttons etc. If you have more than 50 articles, you can delete the ones that are giving you the biggest headaches and focus on getting the others right.
Second of all, if you’ll have to submit for a review again – this is often the case, you’ll need to create at least 10 articles in your library before resubmitting. Yes, there are tricks to that – for example, you could update your old blog post and refresh your RSS feed, but still, it’s better to be on the safe side.
Mainly due to these two reasons, I highly recommend to have more than the required 50 articles in place before getting on the Instant Articles train.
2. Choose the RIGHT WordPress Plugin
Picking the right WordPress plugin that enables you to set up Instant Articles correctly, will save you tens of hours. I’m speaking from experience here, actually from having a pretty nasty experience with one particular plugin.
The first time I set up Instant Articles I used the PageFrog WordPress plugin. Bad decision.
Formatting was a mess, articles weren’t shown correctly on Facebook after refreshing the RSS feed, some of my 70+ articles were shown, others weren’t and so on. My developers and I wasted tens of hours coding within Facebook Instant Articles to get the blog posts to display correctly and as soon as we updated the RSS feed, everything looked messy again.
This is when we decided to get rid of PageFrog once and for all, and use the official Instant Articles for WP plugin.
Unlike PageFrog that hasn’t been updated since the beginning of March, the Instant Articles for WP plugin is being updated on a regular basis thus ensuring compatibility between the two systems, WordPress and Facebook.
Furthermore, I’d like to point out that two of the members of the Instant Articles for WP development team are Facebook and Automattic, the founders of WordPress.com. Now, if these folks can’t get it right, I don’t know who else can.
3. Get Rid of All the Warning Triangle Signs
Do all your articles look the same within Facebook Instant Articles as they look on your website?
Well, they should.
Syncing everything and getting rid of all those warning triangles under your Facebook Page at
==> Publishing Tools >> Instant Articles >> Production Articles
can be quite challenging.
If you use a SlideShare presentation in your blog posts, you’ll need to replace “op-social” with “op-interactive” in the Facebook code. Pretty much the same applies for podcast players and similar media tools.
Here’s where you can find appropriate help and guidance:
And if coding isn’t something you’re familiar with, you’ll be well advised to hire a developer for a couple of hours to fix all the bugs. Once all your articles are clear, go ahead and submit to Facebook for approval.
Facebook Instant Articles Live
This is what the end result looks like once you’ve been accepted as a Facebook publisher…
Wrapping It Up
Enabling Facebook users to consume your blog posts within the very same platform is a game changer. Hence the rumors around LinkedIn working on a similar solution.
According to Facebook, Instant Articles load 10x faster than standard mobile web articles, while 70% of the readers are less likely to abandon your article. And that’s exactly what users want and expect from the 800 pound Gorilla of Social Media. A seamless user experience.
The user wins because he gets the information he / she wants a lot quicker.
Facebook wins because it keeps the user in their environment for a longer period of time.
You as a publisher win because your valuable content reaches more people and you can use Facebook’s Audience Network to monetize.
If you want to learn more about how to avoid common pitfalls when setting up your Instant Articles and how to monetize your valuable content once you’ve joined the ranks of official Facebook Publishers, I invite you to join the Social Advertising Academy.
I look forward to helping you take your Facebook marketing game to the next level.
Have you set up your Facebook Instant Articles? What were your biggest challenges?