Facebook has been expanding the availability of Instant Articles to both users and publishers. When the feature, which allows mobile Facebook users to load articles from the news feed with "buttery smooth" quickness, was first launched in the spring, there were just a handful of publishers on board and only some iOS users could take advantage.
Last week, Facebook announced that everyone who uses the Facebook for iPhone app can now read "thousands" of Instant Articles in the News Feed on a daily basis. When an Instant Article is shown, it displays a lightning bolt on the top right corner of the story so you know you'll be able to load it quickly.
Beyond loading quickly, Instant Articles offer publishers some other interesting functionality such as autoplay videos that begin as readers scroll, the ability to zoom in on photos while tilting the phone, the ability to like and comment on individual photos and videos in a story, geo-tagged images, and swipable photo galleries.
In addition to the expanded availability to users, Facebook announced a bunch more partners: Billboard, Billy Penn, The Blaze, Bleacher Report, Breitbart, Brit + Co, Business Insider, Bustle, CBS News, CBS Sports, CNET, Complex, Country Living, Cracked, Daily Dot, E! News, Elite Daily, Entertainment Weekly, Gannett, Good Housekeeping, Fox Sports, Harper’s Bazaar, Hollywood Life, Hollywood Reporter, IJ Review, Little Things, Mashable, Mental Floss, mindbodygreen, MLB, MoviePilot, NBA, NY Post, The Onion, Opposing Views, People, Pop Sugar, Rare, Refinery 29, Rolling Stone, Seventeen, TIME, Uproxx, US Magazine, USA Today, Variety, The Verge, and The Weather Channel.
Nieman Lab published a new interview with Instant Articles product manager Michael Reckhow, who says in the coming months, Facebook will continue to add more publishers.
If you have a site that wants to be included in this, Facebook already offers a way to get set-up, though you'll have to wait for Facebook to onboard you. There's no telling how long that will take or if Facebook will even do so.
If you can take advantage, however, it sounds like it will be well worth your efforts. Reckhow said in the interview that Instant Articles get more shares than regular stories:
It’s really early in terms of understanding how people interact with Instant Articles, and we’ll continue to learn a lot. But the first thing we’re seeing is that people are more likely to share these articles, compared to articles on the mobile web, because Instant Articles load faster; the majority load in under a second, and that means people are getting to the content immediately.
We believe that sharing is the strongest signal that someone can give that it was a great experience. We’re really happy to see that improving the speed, improving the experience inside the article, is being reflected in more shares.
According to Reckhow, most publishers using Instant Articles plan to put their entire catalog or at least the majority of it on the platform.
Instant Articles is in public beta for Android right now, and will launch more broadly on the Facebook for Android app later this year.
Images via Facebook