Are Facebook Instant Articles Worth It?

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Are Facebook instant articles worth it

We spoke in our last post about Google AMP and we touched upon Facebook Instant Articles, which we’ll be going into a bit more detail about today.

It’s no secret that mobile internet usage is on the rise, so the need for better performing, more user friendly, and faster sites and content to be available on mobile devices is now paramount. With a lot of businesses still just getting their heads around responsive websites, why the change so soon?

Well, as we know Facebook like to be forerunners in social sharing, with many updates including Facebook Live being released, and talks of virtual reality and AI, so it wasn’t too much of a shock when Facebook started trialing Instant Articles almost a year ago.

So why is this a good thing?

Well, put simply, faster content means happier readers, who are more likely to finish reading, and perhaps even share, meaning your content gets more views. Facebook gets more engagement, more people wishing to view articles directly off Facebook, and well, more views on their adverts. Everyone wins right?

Why do I get the feeling there’s some bad news too?

Okay, perhaps not bad news, but there is a lot of talk about Facebook taking back control of your content. Normally, with businesses being able to link back to their own content from most social platforms, it places control of the look, feel and what you can say in the hands of the business and their site.

With instant articles, you have to follow Facebook specifications, as well as only be able to share that speedy content you have worked so hard on, on Facebook. Which may be what has triggered Google to push their AMP project through quite quickly, to fill that need. (You can read more about Google AMP here.)

What have people found so far?

Before its release to all publishers on 12th April, there were beta publishers. They got to try out Instant, and there have been some others quick off the mark to trial the new articles. It’s had a mix bag of reviews, we’ve heard that Buzzfeed and Vox have said some good things and Gawker saying it had increased its traffic. But, we also found this review by Jonathon Bailey, which was posted on plagiarism today, which is not as good. The reviews looks at the overly complicated process for not much return, and seems to resound with a lot of other reviews.

Facebook steps to setting up 

So how do you get started if you want to give this a go?

According to Facebook, it takes 3 easy steps to get going.

  • Step 1 – Sign up for instant articles
  • Step 2 – Develop and submit your sample articles
  • Step 3 – Begin publishing Instant Articles.

But, as you expect, it is a little more complicated than that. Social Media Examiner has a really clear, and easy to follow 13 step guide to get you going, which may be a good starting point.

Or if you want a quick idea of whether you want to start this process, here is the quick 10 step list featured in the Plagiarism Today article we just mentioned above:

To successfully get Instant Articles working on your site you need to do the following:

  1. Sign up for Instant Articles (Including a Facebook Page if You Don’t Have One)
  2. Download and Configure the Pages Manager App for iOS or Android (For Testing)
  3. If You Intend to Use a WordPress (or Other) Plugin, You’ll Need to Create an App in Facebook for Developers
  4. Claim Your URL on your Facebook Page (Will Require Editing Your Site’s Header)
  5. Format Your Articles for Instant Articles (This is What the Plugin Does)
  6. Setup Either Your RSS Feed or the Facebook API
  7. Create a Style Template for Your Instant Articles
  8. Set Up 50 Articles (Yes, Fifty)
  9. Submit Those Articles to Facebook for Review
  10. Wait 24-48 Hours and See if You are Accepted

We believe step 8 now requires only 10 articles rather than the original 50, so we suppose that makes the process a little easier. You can also find the official WordPress and Facebook Plugin here.

Whichever way you follow, it is certainly not as simple as Facebook has made out. So if you a relative beginner to coding, you may want to enlist the help of a more technically minded friend to help you.

 

Is it worth doing?

Making your content easier to read on mobile, and speeding processes up is a good thing. Also reviewing the way you share content is probably worth it. However, when it comes to Instant Articles, you need to remember it only goes on Facebook, so you will have to look at other channels too.

Even if you decide Instant isn’t for you, you may not be able to avoid the need for super-fast articles.

You can also look forward to Google AMP, Apple news, and LinkedIn getting on board with new ways to share mobile content.

With Google AMP and Apple news already available to most publishers you can get started. But you will have to wait a little while until LinkedIn releases its own publishing tool.

 

Have you tried instant articles, or any of the other super-fast news articles? Let us know what your thoughts are.

You can read more about where else to share your content to get more traffic back to your website on our next blog post.

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