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How The New Facebook Instant Articles Will Change Your Content Marketing Strategy

Facebook made the announcement in mid-February that it will be offering its feature, Instant Articles, to everyone who produces online content. This means that in addition to the 350 major publications around the world that already have this feature, including CNN, NPR, The New York Post, National Geographic, Buzzfeed, Gawker and many more, it will be in the hands of businesses of all sizes and bloggers at all fame levels.  Instant Articles has the potential to revolutionize the way companies handle their content marketing strategy.  

What Is Instant Articles?  

Instant Articles allows publishers to produce content and users to view content in a whole new way. Facebook describes this new feature as an HTML5 document optimized for fast mobile performance, rich storytelling capabilities, branded design, and customized visual display. iPhone and Android Facebook users will be able to engage in visually-appealing, interactive, multi-media articles that come to life with the swipe of a finger without ever leaving the social media platform. Instant Articles will include automatic video play, interactive maps, a zoom-in feature, and audio.  

What Does Instant Articles Offer?  

Quality over Quantity: What makes Instant Articles so appealing to Facebook users? A part of it is their level of complexity. Instant Articles brings text, audio, images and video into one spectacular piece of work that can create layers of understanding and truly make an impact on its viewers. This forces publishers who have gotten used to cranking out mass amounts of articles to up their game, focusing more of their attention on a fewer number of pieces. A review process before any company can start using Instant Articles will also help to ensure a high standard.  

Customizability: Publishers will be able to make their Instant Articles’ structure and layout similar to how their articles already appear on their own website, while still being able to add Facebook’s “reactions” and “comment” options within.  

Faster Load Times: As it stands right now, when users click on an article a company has posted to Facebook, they will be taken to that company’s website where the article then loads. This. Takes. Forever. Because Instant Articles will load right from Facebook’s server, it will be up to ten times faster than loading through the smartphone’s browser.  

Faster Sharing: Because of these way-faster load times, articles can be consumed and then shared at a much faster rate, spreading a publisher’s message further and in a shorter period of time.  

More Clicks: When a publisher’s message is being spread further and in a shorter period of time, more users can be expected to click on the articles, which can lead to more company exposure and more sales.  

Analytics: By using Instant Articles, you’re not compromising on any of your analytical information. Content publishers will have the choice of using Facebook’s analytical tools and resources, those belonging to a third party, or both in order to track an article’s user-engagement.  

Convenience: Instant Articles is about saving time, not only for readers but for companies as well. That’s why Facebook has made the production of Instant Articles fast and convenient. You can keep your content management system. There’s no rewriting, reformatting or reposting your articles for Facebook. After the initial setup, you can make it so every time you post an article to your website, it automatically appears on Facebook as an Instant Article as well.  

Ad Revenue: Instant Articles allows content publishes to incorporate ads. You can use Facebook ads and keep 70% of the revenue, or use your own ads and keep 100%. You’ll also have the option of automatically inserting ads or manually placing where they go.  

Any Downsides?  

Need to Publish to Your Own Website: There’s no way to develop Instant Articles directly from Facebook. You need to already be publishing articles on your own website, which will then be transferred to Facebook through an RSS feed, in order to use the Instant Articles feature.  

May Receive Fewer Website Visitors: Because Instant Articles allows its users to view content through Facebook instead of through the company’s website, this could mean your website receives fewer visitors; however, with the ability to include ads in articles, many major publishers who already have access to Instant Articles report that their revenue has remained steady.  

Technical Knowledge is Necessary: While Instant Articles is technically available to any business or blogger that produces online content, many individuals and small businesses aren’t currently set up for this. Those who want to take advantage of Instant Articles will need to set up a secure RSS feed. They may also need a designer or developer to create their template in a way that mirrors their site.  

Prior Approval is Required: Facebook wasn’t kidding when they said quality content matters. Before any company can begin publishing, they must get prior approval through Facebook by submitting at least 50 articles with ads already enabled so the reviewer can get a sense of what your company plans to put out there and to ensure that your users are going to get a quality experience. All submissions will be reviewed within 24-48 hours. The reviewer may provide feedback and make suggestions before final approval is given, or they may issue a rejection. If a submission is rejected, the company must resubmit with at least 20 new articles.  

What If I Don’t Want Instant Articles?  

Now for the big question: Will not implementing Instant Articles hurt your brand’s Facebook presence? According to Facebook, the company has no intention of favoring Instant Articles in News Feeds over those that are posted in the traditional method. All articles will still be ranked based on the number of people who interact with them and the amount of time people spend reading them.   With that being said, Instant Articles are going to have a clear advantage. Because they’re more easily sharable, because their reach is likely to spread further and faster, and because people are more likely to read the articles instead of closing out their browser because it was taking too long to load, Instant Articles will probably rank higher in News Feeds than those posted the traditional way.  

When Can I Start Using Instant Articles?  

Instant Articles will be accessible to all online content publishers beginning April 12, 2016. Until then, you can watch the introductory video and brush up on the documentation for development.              


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