Facebook Instant Articles: How to Get Them
Improve load time and user interaction with Facebook instant articles. Are they right for you?
Have you heard of Facebook Instant Articles?
Facebook Instant Articles are a great way to serve your content to readers without fearing they will leave your website due to load time. In fact, even more than improving load time, Instant Articles allow your readers to interact with what you’ve created for them.
How Are Instant Articles Different?
(viewed on computer or mobile Internet browser, not set up as Instant Articles based on the Facebook for Developers’ Instant Articles page):
- Readers will be directed to your website with other website features, including pop-ups, opt-in forms and the menu.
- The article will load as normal with slight-to-long delay depending on your website.
- The click will count as a hit on your website, counting as a referral from Facebook.
- Readers will read through as normal, clicking on images to enlarge them.
The scoop on viewing conventional articles:
The focus is to read + observe media such as images, graphics, videos and charts without special attention to content interaction.
- Readers are directed to the Instant Article vs. to your website with the sidebar, menu and other features.
- Instant loading.
- Hits to your Instant Articles won’t count as a hit on your website. Note that you can gauge clicks to your Instant Articles by using Google Analytics.
- Interactive reading. In Facebook’s words:
“Instant Articles introduces a suite of creative tools that allow publishers to bring their stories to life in new ways, with high-resolution photos, auto-play videos, interactive maps and audio captions.” -Facebook for Developers
The scoop on viewing Instant Articles:
The focus is to interact with content, improving the likability of their experience and potentially reinforcing absorption of the material.
Who already has Facebook Instant Articles?
(Note: To check out the Instant Article versions of their posts, you need to view through the Facebook mobile app. Click on the articles with the lightening bolt in the upper right.)
Right now you can see Instant Articles being used by:
(if on mobile, click to visit their Facebook page where you might come across an Instant Article)
Facebook Will Send you More Information about Instant Articles:
Even if you have an inkling you’d like to try it out, fill-out Facebook’s form to seek out more information. They’ll send you an email that links to the developer’s information and will also invite you to the Facebook Group for Media Publishers.
Curious about what the email says? Here it is:
What Features Do We Get to Look Forward To?
Any video can be set to autoplay and even loop, creating an interactive and entertaining cross-media experience. Can you already think about how documentaries, biographies and tutorials can translate to a really interesting experience for users?
Note that your videos must be embedded on your website to include autoplay. Facebook Instant Video supports video from third-party players, but these videos will not support the autoplay enhancement.
When a user taps a photo or video, it expands. To see more details beyond what is currently showing in their frame, just tilt the screen!
Note that images and video you allow the expand option should be high-resolution so they appear crisp when zoomed in.
Creating a really smooth and movie theater-like experience, images and videos can also appear full frame, snapping to fit the dimensions of your device. Facebook says this creates “a stepped, card-by-card scrolling experience for readers,” and they recommend using portrait mode to film videos meant to be shown on your Instant Articles.
This is such a great one! Allow your readers to hear your voice…literally. This works really well for complex thoughts or if you’re hoping to really connect with your reader.
You have the option to set your audio files to autoplay. If you do, as the user scrolls past the audio file, they will hear your snippet. No worries, the user also has control of a toggle on/off.
Facebook does the work for you here. All you have to do is specify a GPS point and choose your desired zoom and they’ll do the rest.
Users will see a ‘hovering’ view of the location you’ve chosen to bring them to.
What a great way to give the users the full context. You have the choice to hid a reference map behind any image. When you do this, a globe icon will appear. The users can click on the icon to see the map – click again, and they’ll return to the image.
Instant Articles can also host web-based content, ads, social, interactive graphics and analytics so you can keep track of your visitors.
How to Prepare for April 12th
Facebook Instant Articles are planned to be released on April 12th, here are the steps you need to take to get them running for you as soon as possible
✅ A Facebook page – not a personal profile, but a business or organization page. I’m sure you already have one of those! If you don’t, here’s how to get one:
✅ An RSS feed that displays the full content of your articles if you want to automate publishing your content to Facebook Instant Articles.
Good news! If you use WordPress, you already have one set up. If you’re still wondering what an RSS feed is, here’s a great article.
✅ To be fully ready, you’ll need to optimize your website for Facebook Instant Articles by using a plugin. Soon, we’ll see the release of the Instant Articles’ plugin for WordPress.
Another option is to use the PageFrog plugin, which is already up-and-running!
PageFrog was created to enable support for Google Accelerated Mobile Pages.
✅ 50 articles (at least) to submit to Facebook for approval for conversion into Instant Articles.
A great rule-of-thumb when choosing articles to be in the Instant Article format is to choose the articles that look great on mobile. Think twice when converting an article that has wide charts or anything else readers will need a wide and detailed view of.
✅ For images you want users to be able to be expand, ensure the minimum resolution is 1024 x 1024 – 2048 x 2048 or greater resolution is preferred. Videos you’re hoping users can expand should be 640 x 480, minimum.
✅ Optional: Sign-up for Facebook Business Manager in case you need to contact support for Facebook Instant Articles.
What do you think?
Is there enough benefit to using Instant Articles to display your content, and are you willing to do the legwork it takes to get them up-and-running? Chat with me below!