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Facebook Instant Articles Launches Today

Instant ArticlesWell folks, get ready!  Today Facebook launches Instant Articles.

Learn what Facebook Instant Articles are and how they work and why they might be important to you.

What is Facebook Instant Articles?

Facebook Instant Articles allow content shared on Facebook to load faster for mobile users.   It is also like posting your blog posts on Facebook.

WordPress has released a plugin that will automatically format your WordPress posts appropriately for Instant Articles.  Facebook will roll out access to Instant Articles today, April 12, for everyone.  You cannot use Instant Articles until Facebook has reviewed and approved that you have it set up correctly.

How Do Facebook Instant Articles Work?

Once approved, your website feed will send automatically to your Facebook Page and you will be able to choose which articles to edit and publish as instant articles from within your Facebook Page’s Publishing Tools.

When a link is shared on Facebook from a site that has Instant Articles, the mobile user will be able to read the article within the Facebook app without having to leave Facebook and go to the website itself. Instant Articles also has some new features such as

Instant Articles also has some new features such as:

  • high-resolution photos
  • auto-play videos
  • interactive maps
  • and audio captions

Those features along with the option to use Facebook’s Audience Network of Ads in your mobile Instant Articles could mean more views on your content, and more ad income.   It could also make it harder to grow your list and convert Facebook readers into loyal and/or paying fans of your blog/website.

Facebook claims Instant Articles will not receive special treatment in users’ feeds. However, people are speculating that due to the faster load times, users might engage more with Instant Articles, which in turn might increase their visibility in feeds, making it absolutely necessary for bloggers and sites who want their content to be seen to start using Instant Articles.  I’m pretty sure Facebook wants as many people as possible depending on their product.

Here are a few of the possible issues I see with Instant Articles.

Possible Issues

  • Currently, only mobile users will be able to view articles as Instant Articles. This will not affect desktop users.  (Will desktop users be able to manage Instant Articles or will that have to be done on the mobile device as well?)
  • Facebook has very specific guidelines about how the content is formatted and what is displayed and will be reviewing accounts one by one for approval, this could mean a long wait to begin using.
  • Facebook will be hosting the Instant Article content you publish in order to render it immediately to mobile users. I wonder what else they might do with this content?
  • Ads are allowed within articles (1 per 350 words and none above the fold) but sponsored content is not allowed. This could mean that if you are set up for Instant Articles you cannot post links to sponsored posts to Facebook at all because if you do, it would pull to mobile as an Instant Article. You would think Facebook would have a work around for this, but as of now, I haven’t heard of any.
  • If current algorithms of engagement to determine visibility stay the same, and engagement is indeed higher with Instant Articles, then publishers will be forced to use Instant Articles if they want their content seen. How much will this hurt page views, etc. on our web page.  How will we drive traffic to our own sites?  Will ads be the only answer?  Perhaps that is Facebook’s plan.
  • Facebook will now be the default host for large amounts of articles read on mobile devices. This gives Facebook a huge amount of power. Giiven their track record, they could change the rules down the road forcing publishers to pay for the service of being seen. Think promoted posts, etc.

As business owners and bloggers, who depend on social media for a large part of our traffic and message delivery, it is important to stay up to date with the current trends on social platforms. But it does not mean we have to jump on the band wagon immediately.  While some are embracing this Facebook change with excitement, many businesses and bloggers are skeptical and proceeding with caution.

I’d encourage you to visit the links below and continue to learn about Facebook Instant Articles.

Related Links:

What do you think? Will you be forging ahead with Instant Articles or taking a “wait and see” approach?