By Dori O’Neill, for Edwardsturm.com.
As you are probably aware, mobile devices now play a huge role in how people use the Internet. Marketers are always eager to find new ways to target the mobile audience and Facebook is delivering tools that can help. One of the biggest is the Instant Article feature, a new way to style your content and get it delivered within the Facebook mobile app. Is this a step your marketing campaign needs to take?
How Do Instant Articles Work?
Instant Articles are pieces of web content that are expressly designed for display in Facebook’s mobile app. Thanks to the somewhat restrictive HTML5 coding used on Instant Articles, they can be highly compressed and sent to a phone or tablet with impressive speed, similar to Accelerated Mobile Pages. They typically download up to 10 times faster than an ordinary web version of the same page.
Facebook’s intention is to make Instant Articles a fast and convenient way to deliver content to their users. Although it is a mobile-exclusive feature, it is not intended for targeted content. Every article you publish through the IA program needs to have a permanent home on the web. This means it is more of an additional vector for your existing content rather than an all-new content marketing platform.
What Are The Benefits?
Obviously, Instant Articles are going to appeal to mobile Facebook users because of the impressively short download times. What are the benefits to you as a publisher, though? For a start, you get increased access to the Facebook audience. A surprisingly large number of mobile users spend most or all of their browsing time within apps like Facebook. Instant Articles ensures that your content remains accessible and appealing to them.
1. Extremely Fast Loading Times
On average, Facebook Instant Articles render up to 10 times faster than if they were hosted on your own website. Because they are hosted within the Facebook app itself, there is no need for users to be redirected to an external website. This dramatically increases loading times, resulting in far more user engagement.
In fact, according to Facebook, users are 70% less likely to click away from one of these articles after they open it than they are with standard web-based articles. Perhaps even more impressive, articles that are displayed through the Instant Articles platform receive approximately 30% more shares than typical articles on the mobile web. As you can well imagine, this increased engagement can significantly benefit your business.
2. Versatile Monetization Options
Instant Articles provides a lot of versatility in terms of the type of advertising that you can display along with your content. There are two primary options that you can choose from. First, you can use specialized code to display your own advertising within your content. With this option, you get to keep 100% of the advertising revenue that your articles generate. Alternatively, you can also take advantage of Facebook Ads. If you go this route, the advertising profits will be split between your company and Facebook.
3. Detailed Analytics
Facebook provides highly detailed analytics for articles that are published through the Instant Articles platform. Not only can you see the number of views that each article received, but you can also get information on how far down each article users scrolled. This can help you judge whether or not people read the article through all the way to the end. Tracking user engagement can help you determine which types of content are most popular, allowing you to fine-tune your publishing strategy to maximize user response.
How Tough Is It to Publish Instant Articles?
There are some significant hurdles to setting yourself up as an Instant Article publisher. As noted above, the system is designed primarily for sites and organizations that are already publishing a lot of content. You may not find it worthwhile to set up an Instant Article account if you don’t have a preexisting content stream.
Because proper code formatting is essential to the IA model, you have to provide a set of sample articles for Facebook to review before you can be approved as an IA publisher. (Facebook currently demands 10 articles for review, although this may change.) These articles need to conform fully to the Instant Article style. If your articles don’t pass muster, you’ll be required to re-submit with new content.
After you sign up for Instant Articles, you will need to get into the setup process. The key here is to familiarize yourself with the IA style guidelines and to start modifying your content to comply with them. After the review process is complete, you will be using an RSS feed or Facebook’s API to publish your articles directly.
It’s very easy to set up Facebook Instant Articles for WordPress.
Facebook has provided this helpful checklist you can use while preparing your content. As noted on the checklist, your articles need to be completely ready to publish, without any placeholders. This goes for your ads as well as your content!
If you haven’t taken any steps towards content marketing in the past, the appearance of Instant Articles on the scene probably isn’t motivation enough for you to start writing articles. If you are already churning out content, though, getting it published through the IA program is an excellent idea. It takes some effort to get the system set up, but once it is up and running, you will enjoy much greater access to Facebook users on mobile devices.
Any burning questions? Concerns? Let me know in the comments below!