What are Facebook Instant Articles & How to Get Started (WordPress)

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What are Facebook Instant Articles

Since we have published the post about Google’s AMP Project previously, we thought it only fair that we also answer the question of ‘What are Facebook Instant Articles?‘.

Similar to Google AMP, Facebook Instant Articles is a distribution platform that serve fast-loading versions of pages that have been optimised for mobile devices. Previously, when users click on a link in Facebook, they are taken to the publisher’s page where the content is served to them. Some websites might not be optimised for mobile, hence they may not render correctly or are slow to load.

With Facebook Instant Articles, users stay on Facebook itself to view the page. Instant Articles is not a platform for you to create unique content, but is just a faster version of an existing page. You still need a corresponding URL on your website in order to use Facebook Instant Articles.

When an Instant Article is shared, this means that they also share a link to the publisher’s website.

what are facebook instant articles

In Facebook’s own words, their goal in implementing Instant Articles is ‘… to connect people to the stories, posts, videos or photos that matter most to them. Opening up Instant Articles will allow any publisher to tell great stories, that load quickly, to people all over the world. With Instant Articles, they can do this while retaining control over the experience, their ads and their data.

Facebook tested this among nine major publishers early last year.

Initial Facebook Instant Articles Publishers

However, as of 12 April 2016, they have extended it to all publishers of all sizes.

Benefits of Facebook Instant Articles

When it comes to serving content on the mobile web, speed is a major issue and many platforms are looking for solutions to make their websites load faster for better user experience. Facebook Instant Articles is one such initiative.

So far, they have claimed to have achieved the below results for those that have implemented Facebook Instant Articles

benefits of facebook instant articles

Faster = Better User Experience

Facebook claims that Instant Articles load ten times faster than typical web pages. Additional features include auto-play videos, interactive maps, tilt-to-pan photos, and embedded audio captions. These make for a more pleasant user experience when consuming mobile articles.

While the average mobile page may take more than eight seconds to load, Facebook’s Instant Articles load seriously fast – almost instantly. If you want to experience it for yourself, check out The Guardian’s Facebook page.

Able to Monetise

Facebook allows publishers to keep 100% of any ad revenue they generate if the publisher sells the ads. If the ads are sold via the Facebook network, then Facebook is taking only a 30% cut.

Able to Control Content

You can choose which articles you want published on Facebook’s Instant Articles platform. When you implement Instant Articles, it doesn’t mean that every article you post will be using the platform. You still have the ability to pick and choose.

Instant Articles Look Gorgeous

Serious, they look awesome! Check out the trailer below.

This is where Facebook Instant Articles trump Google’s AMP Project. While AMP is a pared down version of HTML, Facebook allows you to display your content in a much more attractive manner.

However, Instant Articles are not favoured in any way in the News Feed Ranking.

How to Implement Instant Articles on WordPress (Aug 2016)

What do You Need to Get Started

  1. Go to instantarticles.fb.com and click sign up
  2. Choose the page you want to implement Facebook Instant Articles
  3. choose library for instant articles

  4. You will need to implement a tag in your website to prove that you own it
  5. meta tag facebook instant articles

    Don’t forget to clear your cache before claiming the URL.

  6. If you’re on WordPress, you can now install the official plugin from Facebook and Automattic.

    If you’re not on WordPress, Facebook has partnered with many other publishing partners to implement Instant Articles. You can view the details here.

  7. When you activate the plugin, you will create a feed for Facebook Instant Articles. You can view the feed at yourdomain.com/feed/instant-articles.

    For example, CloudRock’s feed can be found at cloudrock.asia/feed/instant-articles.

  8. You should now return to your Instant Articles page and submit your RSS feed.

    submit rss feed

  9. In order to start using the WordPress plugin, you have to create and submit a new app on Facebook. Visit this page and create a new app.

    add app

    In the pop up that follows, input your details as needed.

    app id

  10. Click on ‘Dashboard’ in the next screen.

    facebook app secret and id
    You want to grab the App ID and App Secret here. Input those in your WordPress plugin.

  11. Back in your Facebook for Developers page, go back to your Dashboard and you will see a section marked ‘Get Started with the Facebook SDK’. Click on ‘Choose a Platform’.

    Get started with Facebook SDK

  12. Choose ‘Website’ option when the pop up appears

    Click on Website

  13. Scroll down the page and input your website URL as below.

    input URL

  14. You now need to get your app live. Click on App Review and then

    app review

    turn live

  15. You will then need to login to your Facebook account

    input app id

  16. Returning to your WordPress site, choose the page you want to manage.

    choose facebook page

  17. You have the option of styling your Instant Articles.

    styling facebook instant articles

    Facebook requires logo images that are 690 by 132 pixel minimum.

    styling instant articles

  18. Facebook says that once you have claimed your URL, the tab ‘Production Articles’ will start being populated with drafts that you can amend before submitting them for consideration to Facebook. However, we found that we had to go to the individual articles and update them before they showed up in the ‘Production Articles’ section.

    submit articles for review

    In any case you will see articles in your library as above. You can and should edit them to adhere to Instant Articles guidelines before submitting them to Facebook for review.

  19. Once you’re okay with your articles, submit them for review.

    submit instant articles for review

    It will take Facebook between three to five days to review your articles.

Should You Implement Facebook Instant Articles

It’s natural to be wary of ‘digital sharecropping‘ – being overly dependent on a particular platform. You don’t want to build your home on someone else’s land.

Given Facebook’s propensity to abruptly change its algorithm and burn publishers, it’s hard to want to invest too much in the social network.You might want to use your social media efforts to drive traffic to your website instead.

However, some writers believe that if you’re a publisher, your main asset is your content, and it doesn’t matter if you drive traffic to a property that you don’t completely own. They believe that your content is detachable.

Either way, Facebook Instant Articles is here to stay.