Last month, everyone that publishes content on the Internet got some big news. Facebook said it would open up Instant Articles to all on April 12. This week, Facebook announced a WordPress plugin, which should make it much easier for many, many site and blog owners to implement.
Do you publish with WordPress? Do you intend to take advantage of Facebook's Instant Articles? Discuss.
What Instant Articles Are
Instant Articles first emerged about a year ago when Facebook let a handful of big publications like The New York Times, BuzzFeed, and National Geographic take advantage of testing the format, which involves Facebook hosting content to show to users in a quicker, more user-friendly manner on mobile devices.
Using the same technology it uses to load photos and videos quickly in its mobile app, Facebook says Instant Articles load as much as ten times faster than standard mobile web articles. They also come with some content feature options like tilt-to-pan photos, auto-play videos, embedded audio captions, and interactive maps.
What You Can Do With Instant Articles
You can sell ads in their articles and keep the revenue and/or use Facebook's Audience Network to monetize unsold inventory.
When it comes to content and audience analytics, Instant Articles supports comScore attribution, and you can use their existing analytics systems or providers like Google Analytics or Omniture. The company is also in talks with European attribution and measurement providers.
Facebook also lets you track reader-engagement with its own analytics tools. In addition to aggregate activity data, it provides info on article reach and engagement, time spent in each article, scroll-depth and engagement with rich media assets like photos and videos.
Over the past year, Facebook has given more and more sites the ability to use Instant Articles, and the articles only recently became supported on Android alongside iOS.
In a month, any content site big or small will be able to publish them.
When Instant Articles opens up to all next month, those using standard WordPress templates will be able to activate the plugin to create Instant Articles.
The plugin is open source, so the developer community will be able to participate in its continued development. WordPress discusses the plugin more here.
Instant Articles Mean More Shares, What About Reach?
According to Facebook, Instant Articles get more shares. Instant Articles product manager Michael Reckhow recently told Nieman Lab:
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 at the time, most of those using Instant Articles were planning to put their entire catalog or at least the majority of it on the platform.
Facebook says using Instant Articles won't directly help you in the News Feed ranking and organic reach, but you see what he said about sharing being the strongest signal, and Facebook does seem to favor Facebook videos over YouTube videos. Facebook would no doubt love to show more Facebook-hosted content.
Are you going to try out Instant Articles? Share your thoughts in the comments.