Facebook Instant Articles
Facebook Instant Articles as defined by Facebook is “a new way for any publisher to create fast, interactive articles on Facebook”. So there are two essential aspects in this definition: ‘Speed’ and ‘Interactive’, and both these matter a lot for content consumption on the Internet, especially on mobile. When it was launched in the year 2015, there were some restrictions on the publishers, but now Facebook has opened this platform to all the publishers.
In this article, I will take you through different aspects of Facebook Instant Articles and certain ways which can boost your business. So let’s begin with features of Instant Articles:
Facebook Instant Articles Tutorial
Here are three steps to begin using Facebook Instant Articles:
- Sign Up
Here are the steps to sign up for Facebook Instant Articles as laid down by Facebook:
- Log in to your Facebook account and go to facebook.com/instant_articles/signup.
- Select the Facebook Page that you’d like to use to manage your Instant Articles.
- Agree to the Instant Articles Terms, which contain Facebook’s content and advertising policies.
- To access the tools, click on Publishing Tools on your Facebook Page, and go to Instant Articles in the left navigation bar.
- Submit your Sample Articles
Once you have signed up, import articles from your content management system and render them as Instant Articles using following step defined by Facebook:
- Upload your logo and create customized styles to reflect your publication’s look and feel.
- Import your articles with the Instant Articles API or an RSS feed and create templates for your article markup. Or, if you use a third-party publishing platform like WordPress, using Instant Articles for WP plugin.
- See how your articles render by using Facebook’s Pages Manager app for iPhones or Android devices.
- Submit a batch of articles for review—the Instant Articles team will approve it or ask you to make updates so your articles follow content and advertising policies.
- Begin Publishing
Use the auto-publish setting for RSS feeds so that all your articles load as Instant Articles in Facebook.
Features of Facebook Instant Articles
In this section, I will take you through some of the features of Facebook Instant Articles:
- Fast and Responsive
Facebook Instant Articles uses the same technology as is used in the Facebook app to load photos and videos quickly. The Instant Articles load instantly as if in a blink. As per the experiments by Facebook, these articles load 10 times quicker than the standard mobile web articles. Some of the official stats about Instant Articles are in the following screenshot:
- Interactive and Immersive Format
Facebook Instant Articles are not static and in a broadcasting format just like the standard mobile web articles but rather there are some creative tools inbuilt to make your articles visually appealing and interactive. This allows readers to interact with your content in new ways and increases the time readers spend on your pages. Here’s a sample video how this feature can enhance the visual appeal of your articles:
- Engaging and Shareable
Although this is not a feature but I have added it because as these articles offer interactive and immersive experience, the readers tend to share them more often than the standard mobile web articles. In fact, Facebook claims that readers have tendency to share such articles 30% more than other articles. So just by using the inbuilt creative tools, you can expect to increase the reach of your content a lot.
- Flexibility and Control in Monetization
I will explain this feature a lot more, as it demands it. As a publisher, you are always looking at ways to monetize your content. That is where Facebook Instant Articles Ads gives you flexibility and control to better monetize your content. Here are three ways you can monetize your content using Facebook Instant Articles:
- Audience Network
As of now, more than 3 million advertisers worldwide are using Facebook ads to promote their business or to sell their products. So there is already a lot of demand out there to purchase Facebook ads. Following screenshot is self-explanatory as in how you can tap into this massive monetization opportunity using the native ad formats and people based targeting, while at the same time maintaining the great user experience: To sign-up, you have to access the Audience Network tool located under the Configuration option (located in the Instant Articles section under the Publishing Tools section of your Facebook Page as shown in the screenshot below:
Once you sign-up for the Audience Network, integrate Audience Network ads with your Instant Articles and add your payment information.
- Direct Sold Ads
If you don’t want to monetize using Facebook Audience Network, then you can opt Direct Sold Ads, wherein you can serve display ads, video ads or animated ads (within the iframe) that your sales team sells directly to advertisers, into your Instant Articles. This allows you to keep 100% of revenue to yourself and Facebook does not take any cut out of it.To do that, Facebook recommends using the ad element to designate the position for the ad within your article. The ad will be rendered inside the article with the “sponsored” heading to distinguish them from the body content of your article.Note that the Facebook will “dynamically size each ad to be responsive to different screen dimensions and add buffer space around the ad consistent with your article style“. To learn more about the ad placement, you can go through the technical details by Facebook. Also, remember that with Direct Sold Ads, you will not have access to Facebook’s native targeting but you can make use of “your standard cookie or contextual data for targeting as you do for ads on your website“.
- Branded Content
Facebook defines branded content as a “creator or publisher’s content that features or is influenced by a business partner for an exchange of value“. Here creators refer to celebrities, influencers or public figures and Publishers refer to media companies, content websites etc. Together they can use this feature to the maximum effect.For example, a famous Bollywood star can post Branded Content of some company they endorse which will lead to increased reach for the promoting company.
Facebook’s policies require content creators and publishers to tag their business partners in their branded content posts.When you tag your business partners in your Branded Content posts, they will be able to see high-level performance insights as well as have the ability to share those posts to their Page and put additional spend behind it, thus increasing the reach of the post further.One way of recognizing the Branded Content posts can be recognized by seeing ‘Paid’ within the post just underneath the ‘with’ tag that identifies the business partner, as shown in the image above.
- Audience Network
- Measurable and Trackable
You can use native Facebook insights as well as your own or third-party analytics tools (like ABC, comScore, IVW, Nielsen etc.) to track the performance of your instant articles like reach, clicks, time spent, scroll depth etc.You can analyze real-time article traffic by embedding tracking codes from your existing web analytics tools, just like on the mobile web. Instant Articles is compatible with in-house systems and any third-party providers like Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics.You can also embed cookies to follow reader interests and serve more relevant ads.
How to Use Facebook Instant Articles for Your Business
In one of the official case study of Dainik Jagran published by Facebook, it is mentioned that after implementing Instant Articles, the load time of their news articles reduced drastically. They also enhanced the overall reading experience by inserting high-resolution media in their articles. Using the creative tools of Facebook Instant Articles, they were able to prove the overall quality of images, videos and slideshows and deliver a richer, more immersive media experience to readers without having to jeopardize load times.
They also used the native slideshow feature for both photos and videos. Overall, this improved the storytelling experience, increased view time on articles, and proved to be an engaging feature for readers. All this effort resulted in 187% readership growth between March 2016 and March 2017 and their instant articles’ revenue has grown 100% in three months from January 2017 to March 2017.
There are lessons from this case study for all the publishers that how improving the user experience using Facebook Instant Articles can boost the readership of their content and thus increase the revenue.
Although this topic requires a lot of time and effort to have the right grasp of it, I have tried to provide all this information as succinctly as possible. The scope of this topic is, of course, much larger than the length of this article, as you can see for yourself. I hope, that this article proved informative to you. If you have any queries please ask in the comment box below.