On April 12, 2016, Facebook released Instant Articles to all publishers. The feature was created to improve the experience for users that view articles and blog posts using the mobile app.
How do Instant Articles work?
Instant Articles are HTML5 documents that are optimized for fast performance. The documents are created in your website’s content management system and made available to Facebook by using a WordPress plugin, RSS feed or API. To learn more about how to utilize them, read Facebook’s guide to Instant Articles.
Instant Articles appear with a lightning bolt in the top right corner of the link image.
When a mobile app user clicks on a Facebook post containing a content link with an Instant Article, that version will load. Instant Articles are only available on the Facebook app which is why they are required to remain on the publisher’s website. This setup allows the content link to be shared across the internet and on other social media platforms without any issues.
With 47% of Facebook’s users only logging in from mobile devices, it’s easy to understand why they’re releasing Instant Articles to all content publishers. Now that it’s available to everyone, marketers need to decide if they will start using the new feature.
Are Instant Articles a good fit for your business?
Before making your decision, let’s consider a common scenario: you’re scrolling through your news feed and that article with a catchy headline grabs your attention. When you click the link, the page doesn’t load right away. These 3 seconds of loading start to feel like an eternity. When you hit 5 seconds, you get frustrated, lose interest and hit the back button. In an environment like the internet where we’re flooded with content, this is how fast our mind processes information and makes decisions.
A page that doesn’t load quickly is at the top of the list for the most frustrating aspects of the mobile experience. According to Facebook, Instant Articles are 10 times faster than standard mobile articles and users are 70% less likely to abandon the article. Is that enough to make you want to start using instant articles?
If you’re still not convinced, consider this: Facebook tailors each user’s news feed to include more posts from the users that they engage with most. Why? Because Facebook knows this will create a better user experience on their platform. A better experience means more users and that means more revenue for Facebook.
What does it mean for marketers and Instant Articles? It means that if users engage with your posts more frequently, you are more likely to show up in their news feed organically. Instant Articles are going to create a better, more engaging user experience with the articles you post.
Instant Articles are Facebook’s attempt to improve the experience for a large majority of their users. It’s no longer up for debate, whether or not mobile will overtake desktop – It’s happening. If you aren’t adapting your web experience to embrace this, you may be losing out.