Have you heard of Facebook Instant Articles?
Are you already itching to get on board and publish your own but perhaps don’t know where to start?
Today, I’ll explain what Facebook Instant Articles are, how to prepare for them and how they benefit bloggers.
Don’t forget to PIN THIS so that you can set up your own Facebook Instant Articles later!
What Are Facebook Instant Articles?
Have you ever clicked on an article in your newsfeed and had to wait for ages for the website to load? Even if the website is optimized for mobile experience, you still have to wait a certain amount of time for the content to load.
I think we can agree we’ve all been there, and we all really just want to get to the content.
Facebook Instant Articles were created to solve one problem – slow loading times. The platform has been in beta since May 2015 and rolled out publicly to all publishers in April 2016.
The primary goal of Facebook Instant Articles is to allow mobile Facebook users to enjoy content of all types – videos, images, audio, and articles without having to wait for ages for a website to load. In other words, by allowing publishers to optimize their content, their readers can access it instantly.
What this means for bloggers?
Simply put, faster loading times means higher user engagement. It leads to more shares over a shorter period of time, which means your content can reach more people.
Bear in mind that this applies to users browsing Facebook on their mobile devices – not on desktop. Those who visit Facebook from their laptops or desktop computers will still go to your website if they click a link to your content.
However, considering how much time we spend on our phones and tablets, Facebook Instant Articles will definitely be a game changer.
If someone using a mobile device shares a link to your article, people who click on the link will either go to the instant article if they are on a mobile device or to the website itself if they are on a desktop computer.
When it comes to referral traffic, this means that mobile users who view your content as a Facebook instant article won’t actually visit your website, and won’t be counted as referral traffic from Facebook. However, you can still use Google Analytics to track traffic to Facebook instant articles to get accurate visitor counts.
How to Prepare Your Blog For Facebook Instant Articles
Before you get started with Facebook Instant Articles, there’s a little bit of prep work involved.
There are a few things you’ll need to use Facebook Instant Articles:
- A Facebook page
- The Facebook Pages app to preview your instant articles on your mobile device
- An RSS feed that displays the full content of your articles if you want to automate publishing your content to Facebook Instant Articles.
- Facebook Instant Articles markup on your blog or website. If you use WordPress you can use the official plugin which is currently available on GitHub and will be released to the official plugin repository soon, or you can use the PageFrog plugin which is available now
- A minimum of 50 articles to submit to Facebook for approval into the Facebook Instant Articles program.
Step 1: Sign up
Obviously, the first thing you need to do is to sign up for Facebook Instant Articles at http://instantarticles.fb.com/.
Step 2: Select your Facebook Page
After signing up, select the page you’d like to activate articles for. If you have several Facebook pages here comes the hard part. You need to pick which is the most important for you or what will benefit you the most! For bloggers you usually pick your page dedicated to your blog.
Step 3: Claim your URL
Once you’ve selected your Facebook Page, you’ll need to provide a URL you intend to use for articles. This URL will be the basis for the URLs of all your posts and in most cases it’s the same as your blog URL.
To claim your URL you need to add a meta tag to your HTML and then add the URL to your settings. This can be done by opening your header.php file in the Appearance>Editor or if you are using a theme that allows you to add code to header or footer sections you can paste the code there.
Step 4: Create articles
Articles can be published directly from WordPress! You will not need to re-create articles within Facebook.
The easiest way to do this is with the plugins mentioned above – either the official plugin or PageFrog plugin.
Step 5: Customize styling
There isn’t a lot you can do here! Upload your logo and choose between Helvetica Neue or Georgia as the fonts which will be used throughout your articles. However, I do recommend uploading your logo for the purposes of keeping your brand consistent.
Step 6: Submit for review
Finally, after all of the above steps you can submit your feed to be reviewed by Facebook. They then verify that all articles generated from your website are properly formatted. Submissions are reviewed within 24-48 hours.
3 Things You Need to Know About Facebook Instant Articles
1. You Can Monetize Facebook Instant Articles
If you sell the ads in your content, you need to know that Facebook is giving publishers 100% of the revenue and takes 30% cut if the ads are sold through the Facebook’s Audience Network. You can choose to opt-in when you get started with Instant Articles.
If you sell your own ads, you can serve video ads, animated ads and banner ads within articles and you can read more about that here.
2. Building an Instant Article doesn’t create a post from your Page
When you publish an Instant Article, it won’t automatically create a corresponding Facebook post from your page. Instead, when a reader on a mobile device sees your article in their newsfeed it will automatically be displayed as an Instant Article.
3. You can add email sign up forms to articles
Thankfully, Facebook knows growing email list is important for anyone who publishes their content online. That’s why they have enabled email signup forms within instant articles. Which is great! You don’t have to worry about losing out on potential subscribers.
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What if You Don’t Want Facebook Instant Articles?
If after reading this, you aren’t convinced you should sign up for Facebook Instant Articles, you certainly don’t have to. According to Facebook, they have no intention of favoring Instant Articles in News Feeds over those that are posted via the traditional method. Facebook will still rank all the articles based on user engagement.
Bear in mind though, that Instant Articles do have a few advantages. They are more easily shareable, which means their reach can spread further and faster. People are more likely to actually read the articles instead of closing out their browser because the page took too long to load.
Ultimately, you can choose whether to add them, but it will lead to more pleasant user experience.
What are your thoughts on Facebook Instant Articles? Will you sign up for them or forego them completely?