Facebook instant articles are available for both large and small publishers. Unlike many of Facebook’s other features; instant articles are not something that can be put into action right away. A little bit of preparation and legwork is required. But, is it really worth the effort? Today we are going to look at the pros and cons of Facebook instant articles, what they are and the steps to take to join the program. Hopefully, helping you to better understand how they work.

About Facebook Instant articles

Facebook developed instant articles as a way of solving issues with poor load speed on mobile devices. In effect, it is basically an HTML5 document that has been mobile-optimized for use on both Android and iOS devices.

From a publisher’s perspective, it allows for the reader experience to be enhanced. The need to use links to direct readers to their website has been eliminated and content can now be hosted directly on Facebook.

Facebook also makes it possible for publishers to completely monetize their instant articles. Directly sold ads, rich media and branded content can be used with the publisher keeping 100% of the revenue.

Publishing is, after all, a business. And at some point or another, monetization needs to enter the equation. Facebook instant articles allows publishers to retain control over their data, their ads and the overall experience.

Why are Facebook instant articles important?

Facebook and Facebook Messenger are the two most used apps across both Android and iOS platforms. One of the biggest issues that publishers face is convincing people to leave Facebook to read content on their own personal website.

As Facebook is the most used mobile application for content consumption in the world, chances are that your audience already uses it on a regular basis. The great thing about this is that you no longer need to try to convince your readers to navigate away from Facebook to read your content.

How do Facebook instant articles work?

Facebook instant articles work by syndicating the content that you publish on your own CMS automatically. This eliminates the need for you to republish your content on Facebook. Each time you post content on your site, it undergoes a review process. The review process checks to make sure that the correct formatting is used as per the community standards.

From a user’s perspective, those using mobile devices have the ability to be able to share instant articles on Facebook. However, the actual experience for those who click on links that have been shared can vary. There are two possible outcomes. The first is that the user is redirected to the website to view the content. The second is that the user will view the Facebook instant article directly on Facebook.

Ultimately, it all boils down to whether the user is using a mobile device or a desktop computer. Mobile devices will always be connected to the Facebook instant article. Desktop users will more likely be redirected to the publisher’s website.

One thing to bear in mind is that users mobile devices will not be redirected to your website. Therefore, referral traffic from Facebook will not be displayed. If you want to gauge the overall visitor counts and traffic to your Facebook Instant articles, you can use Google Analytics.

Pros and cons of instant articles

What are the pros of Facebook instant articles?

  • Loading speed is up to 10 times faster than traditional mobile browsers.
  • People are less likely to abandon the article.
  • An average of 20% more instant articles are read.
  • Users are more likely to share content with their Facebook friends.
  • Customized visual display and branded designs available.
  • Storytelling capabilities combined with rich media options.
  • Instant articles can be automatically generated.
  • Makes it possible to monetize instant articles for Facebook mobile users.

What are the cons of using Facebook instant articles?

  • Unable to implement widgets, email forms, side bars, short codes and custom fields.
  • Embedded content may not display correctly.
  • Options to encourage users to sign up for newsletters or subscribe are limited.
  • Publishers exposed to algorithm changes on the platform.
  • Difficulty creating a connection between the publishers platform and content.

Things needed to set up Facebook instant articles

To successfully set up Facebook instant articles, there are a few things that you need to have in place. You will most likely already have some of these steps taken care of.

  • The first thing that you will need is a Facebook page.
  • You will also need the Facebook pages app. This lets you preview your articles on a mobile device.
  • To automate content publishing, you need an RSS feed that displays your article content in its entirety.
  • To join the Facebook instant articles program, you will need at least 10 articles ready to be submitted for approval. Writing lots of fresh and unique content is vital.
  • A Facebook business manager to help support your instant articles.

Understanding the type of articles to upload is also an important factor. If you have long-form content that contains infographics, charts and diagrams then it is probably best suited for desktop viewing. A good way to understand what type of content is a good fit for Facebook instant articles, check out some of the publishers who already use the program to see what works best.

Why use Facebook instant articles?

In a nutshell, it makes good business sense, along with improving the overall reader experience. When your audience knows that the content is going to load quickly and easily, they are more likely to check out your content. You have complete control over which articles are published to Facebook. If an instant article doesn’t have the impact that you had anticipated, you can unpublish it with the click of a button.

How many times have you personally visited a website and left because it is taking too long to load? All too often, publishers neglect the page load speed, which ultimately leads to the reader closing the page before it’s even had a chance to open. Facebook instant articles remove this hurdle by optimizing and loading your content in the blink of an eye. This results in more people viewing your content, thus increasing the amount of revenue that you can earn from monetizing it.