What are “Instant Articles” and Why Do They Matter?
At last month’s F8 conference, Facebook announced the release of a long anticipated publishing tool called “Facebook Instant Articles”. Previously available only to a select group of beta news and human interest providers, including the New York, Times, National Geographic, and Buzz Feed, IA was designed to address one of the most immediate concerns that all of us content marketers dread the most – slow mobile load times.
If you’re building content and publishing through Facebook then, this blog’s for you. If you’re roughly my age, that much better. You’ll understand what’s at stake when you think back to the pain of waiting what seemed like eons for your desktop computer to return something as simple as an email (those were dark days). Fast forward twenty years and our phones are more powerful than the strongest computers of our youth. Yet with in the introduction of dynamic advertising, video, and rich visuals like 360 images, clicking an article on Facebook can feel like a similarly frustrating experience with some content, taking as long as fifteen or twenty seconds to load.
Because about of 85% of content served through Facebook happens over the social network’s mobile application, the ability of any given device to open your story on the spot, is undoubtedyl one of the most important factors for discovery and exposure. The ramifications don’t end there however: Speed is also a major component in Google’s search algorithm and the type of high bounce rates that can result in slow load times also have a major impact on your organizations’ overall search ranking – especially if you have significant traffic being driven through Facebook.
47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less and 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. ~ Sean Works ~ KissMetrics
For web developers, SEO’s, and content marketers, using social media to drive traffic, these are the kind of numbers that make you perk up and take note. You’ve likely invested a lot of hard work into your content and your readers attention can be lost in seconds. So let’s explore a little more about how “Instant Articles” works.
Like its cousin “Google Accelerated Mobile Pages” or “AMP”, FBIA dials down on the problem of how to reduce page load times, by serving a previously optimized version of your content to mobile users. If you’re using Facebook as an inbound marketing tool this translates to more eyeballs, virility, and positive brand association.
What you might not know: As a Facebook advertiser, is that “Instant Articles” prevent your or other people’s ads on your page, from becoming the type of nuisance that can actually drive users away from your products.
In a keynote address at Hamburg’s “Online Marketing Rockstars” conference, one of our friends, Gary Vaynerchuck of Vayner Media, talks about why this is so important. He cites a negative experience with a Samsung mobile ad placement on the ESPN mobile website which annoyed him so badly that he vowed never to buy another Samsung product, and subsequently went on to tell hundreds of thousands others about this negative experience in public addresses around the world.
The ad had been purposely built with as small of an “X” button as possible, leading to huge CTR numbers for the advertiser, but only at the expense of degrading the ESPN content stream. Instant Articles deals with this problem by applying a strict set of rules around how adds are served within Facebook’s framework.
Ad load times are a CRITICAL, but you, as a publisher frequently have little or no control about how and what types of ads are loaded on your page and how they’re affecting readership. IA should be one of many tools in your chest to optimize the reader experience while consuming your content.
IA is incredibly easy to build in to your site, though you may first have to ensure that your content meets some basic requirements, as listed below however. If you’d like a full list they can be found on Facebook’s “Instant Articles Help” page.
If you’re developing on Word Press or the like, there’s a number of plug-ins that make adoption almost effortless. Some of them even include a widget which allow you to view your Facebook Instant Articles directly in your platform’s editor.
However you implement FBIA, it should a powerful tool in helping to make sure that your content is getting the most viewership possible. Please feel free to direct message our team with any other questions about Instant Articles and we’ll do our best to help you get started.