Facebook is a social phenomenon. This ultimate social destination houses far more users than any other social network in existence and is the second biggest website in the world when it comes to traffic. Over the past decade, people have seen Facebook evolve and grow from a MySpace rival, to the planet’s leading social network, and beyond. These days, Facebook is branching out from the social arena looking to become the dominant force in search and retail. Now the company has set its sights on ruling the roost in the publishing game as well.
Recently, Facebook launched one of its newest features, dubbed “Instant Articles,” an element aimed at providing users with a faster and more interactive reading experience while simultaneously giving publishers “control over their stories, brand experience and monetization opportunities.” Publishers can use this new offering with their existing content management systems for easy adoptability and use.
Here is what you need to know about using Instant Articles.
Publish Straight from Your CMS
Facebook always aims to develop tools that are easy to use and intuitive; this time it may have outdone itself. Through receiving input from publishers, Facebook has provided seamless integration for publications through the Web, mobile applications, and just about anywhere else readers go for content updates.
Since Instant Articles supports publishing through already existing content management systems, publishers need not worry about learning new tools or programs, or even the need to publish articles in different locations at all.
To get started, simply supply Facebook with a RSS feed of your articles. From there, Instant Articles will systematically load new blogs and articles as they become available on the publisher’s website or app. The best part about this approach is that any corrections, updates, or changes made to the piece will automatically be implemented due to the RSS feed connection. Hooray for simplicity.
HTML5 Article Creation
Facebook’s utilization of HTML5 hands publishers all of the pertinent information to design Instant Articles with the added benefit of allowing people to recycle code from their own websites. Additionally, HTML5 is capable of supporting third-party content such as analytics, advertisements, social media embeds, and more.
With Instant Articles, Facebook opens the doors for publishers to produce more interactive materials, especially when it comes to mobile devices; new features such as interactive maps, auto-play videos, and audio captions are available through HTML5 tags. Publishers can also customize photo margins, caption locations, “Like” and “Comment” buttons, and many other things for a more unique and personalized feel. And since these functions are open format, publishers can integrate them with their own websites and apps going forward.
A Consistent Sharing Experience
Instant Articles also provides publishers with seamless sharing capabilities across all platforms and modes of sharing; since each article is connected to the URL of the website that hosts the original version, content can be distributed through all the normal means.
When links are shared in individual’s News Feeds, Facebook will verify if an Instant Article version of the material exists, and if so, that is what will be displayed. If there is no Instant Article, then the article will simply open in the Web browser as it always has. When Instant Articles are shared using Twitter, e-mail, SMS, or other similar means, what is actually shared is the URL to the publisher’s website so that all can still partake in the information despite not viewing the material on Facebook.
This makes circulating articles radically simple for publishers as they receive the benefit of Instant Articles on Facebook while will still enjoying the same share-ability across other platforms without the added stress of worrying about adjusting workflows or incorporating new technology into their existing systems.
Upon its initial release, Instant Articles was only available to a handful of publishers including BuzzFeed, the New York Times, National Geographic, NBC News, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel Online, and several others. In the time since its debut, Facebook has opened the feature to other outlets such as MTV, The Huffington Post, and more while simultaneously testing the feature and gathering feedback from readers and publishers alike to make the experience as intuitive and interactive as possible before a full rollout occurs. At this time, 18 publishers have access to Instant Articles and the company plans to expand this feature as time goes on until this new publishing option becomes available to the masses. Hang in there; you’ll get your hands on this soon.
Similarly, only a small segmented group of individuals on the social network have been seeing Instant Articles on their News Feeds, yet this is also set to be bolstered for Facebook app users who utilize iPhone devices as the program continues to grow in size and scale.
Facebook is certainly taking on a creative initiative that solves the unique problem of publishers not receiving as many hits on native websites for their publications as they do on the social channel and at the same time provides users with an augmented reading experience. There has been some debate if this program would catch on since it was originally launched in May of 2015, however, with Google releasing its own version of Instant Articles, it would seem that this clash over content top contender is just heating up.
How do you think Instant Articles is poised to help publishers regain control over their content hits? Do you think Facebook will be able to fend off Google’s Instant Articles counterpart?