Facebook Instant Articles are coming to your Facebook account April 12th!
What is Facebook Instant Articles?
Facebook Instant Articles allow content shared on Facebook to load faster for mobile users. It is, in essence, Facebook’s own in-house version of Google AMP.
WordPress has released a plugin that will automatically format your WordPress posts appropriately for Instant Articles. Facebook rolled out access to Instant Articles for everyone on April 12th, but you cannot use Instant Articles until Facebook has reviewed and approved that you have it set up correctly, they are encouraging you to optimize your posts.
How Do Facebook Instant Articles Work?
Once approved, your website feed will send automatically to your Facebook Page and you will be able to choose which articles to edit and publish as instant articles from within your Facebook Page’s Publishing Tools.
When a link is shared on Facebook from a site that has Instant Articles, the mobile user will be able to read the article within the Facebook app without having to leave Facebook and go to the website itself. Instant Articles also has some new features such as
- high-resolution photos
- auto-play videos
- interactive maps
- and audio captions
Those features along with the option to use Facebook’s Audience Network of Ads in your mobile Instant Articles could mean more views on your content, and more ad income, but could also make it harder to grow your list and convert Facebook readers into loyal and/or paying fans of your blog/website.
Facebook claimed that Instant Articles would not receive special treatment in user’s News Feeds. However, people are speculating that due to the faster load times, users might engage more with Instant Articles, which in turn might increase their visibility in users’ feeds, making it absolutely necessary for bloggers and sites who want their content to be seen to start using Instant Articles.
So now that we’ve answered the question What is Facebook Instant Articles, let’s look at some of the common concerns being brought up.
- Currently only mobile users will be able to view articles as Instant Articles. This will not affect desktop users.
- Facebook has very specific guidelines about how the content is formatted and what is displayed and will be reviewing accounts one by one for approval, potentially a long wait to begin using.
- Facebook will be hosting the Instant Article content you publish in order to render it immediately to mobile users. No known info as to how often they will refetch your post content to be sure it's up to date.
- Ads are allowed within articles (1 per 350 words and none above the fold) but sponsored content (promotion of anyone but yourself) is not allowed, which could mean that if you are set up for Instant Articles you cannot post links to sponsored posts on Facebook at all because if you do, it would pull to mobile as an Instant Article and violate the terms. And you cannot currently set specific pages to not render an instant article, it's all or nothing.
- If current algorithms of engagement to determine visibility remain, and engagement is indeed higher with Instant Articles, then publishers will be forced to use Instant Articles if they want their content seen.
- Facebook will now be the default host for large amounts of articles read on mobile devices. This gives Facebook a lot of power, and given their track record, they could change the rules down the road forcing publishers to pay for the service of being seen, as they have done already with promoted posts.
As bloggers, who depend on social media for a large part of our traffic and message delivery, it is important to stay up to date with the current trends on social platforms. That being said, while some are embracing this Facebook change with excitement, many publishers and bloggers are skeptical and proceeding with caution.
ComoBlog and Blogging Successfully fall into the second category and we'll be monitoring the developments closely and reporting on them to our Como Blog Connection members. I’d encourage you to visit the links below and continue to learn about Facebook Instant Articles. And if you’re not a Connection member, check it out here. Great stuff!
- Introducing Facebook Instant Articles – video
- See the Instant Articles Documentation
- WordPress Plugin for Instant Articles