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Facebook Instant Articles

Elizabeth Fanslow

8-Facts You Need To Know...

What are Facebook Instant Articles? Facebook defines them as: 

“An Instant Article is a HTML5 document optimized for fast mobile performance, rich storytelling capabilities, branded design and customized visual display.”

Chances are several times a day you scroll through your Facebook newsfeed to consuming content, including trending topics, news and articles.  

When you want to read something, you don't want to wait for it to load. You want the information now, not in a few minutes. 

Facebook sought to eliminate that wait time and load the content as quickly as possible. By publishing articles on the Facebook Instant Articles (IA) platform, it’s faster loading and has better functionality across multiple platforms. While that might be the most important reason to use IA…it’s not the only reason.

Creating Stories

You will really love the interaction! When you open an IA on your mobile phone it comes alive in your hand. With interactive and seamless video that plays as you scroll, as well as pictures, which allow the author to share verbal content, and scalable maps. The experience for the user is simply amazing.

This is a living page…this is a living breathing article that is beyond just words…. states Shezad Morani, Creative Director, NBC

This is a living page…this is a living breathing article that is beyond just words….
— Shezad Morani, Creative Director, NBC
Listen to the author speak while viewing a picture, watch seamless video as you scroll, and use maps interactively. 

Listen to the author speak while viewing a picture, watch seamless video as you scroll, and use maps interactively. 

National Geographic is just one of the Publishers using Facebook’s Instant Articles. But it’s one of my favorites so far… 

“I remember growing up and getting National Geographic Magazines. The experience of looking at their magazines was amazing as a child. The pictures made you feel like you were a part of the story…but through Instant Articles…I feel like I am right there with them; a totally different type of experience.”  

It’s so easy to compare the two experiences and see the differences. Sharing these stories becomes so much easier than those printed in a magazine.

You know what they want, people want good stories. That’s what’s share-able…good stories are shareable.
— James Bennet, Editor-in-Chief and Co-President of The Atlantic

Facebook IA’s are just another way for people to share good stories and good content. The more emotionally appealing and desirable the information…the more your content gets shared. 

Beta Testing 

Only selected publishers have been using IA’s since May of last year. You may have already seen them in your mobile newsfeed but didn’t realize what they were. There is a way to identify when an IA has been used - notice the lightning bolt in the right hand corner in the picture series below?  

Facebook plans to roll out the new platform on April 12th to everyone at the F8 Conference (Facebook Developer Conference).

So what does that mean to you? Here are few things you need to know:

  • Facebook has been working with WordPress to create a plugin for WordPress Bloggers. What that might mean is that you don’t have to be an HTML5 programmer to use the platform. The release of that plugin will coincide with the April 12th rollout.

    But stay tuned; we’ll know more in the next few weeks about how this will specifically work on the WP platform.

  • You will access IA from your Facebook page, so you must have an existing Business Facebook page and you must be an Admin or Editor of that page.

  • Next you will need to secure a URL – your IA’s will use this custom URL. When you go to use IA for the first time you will be instructed through this process.

  • IA’s are template driven with 19-different layouts to give you a customized look and feel. You can use your logos, colors and typeface, according to Facebook Developer Notes.

  • You will be able to create your own RSS feed dedicated to just your IA posts. This is also done through the IA platform.

  • We’re also told that you can create custom widgets within your IA such as newsletter signup forms. However, these are still in development…and those widgets may cost you.

  • And for those of you who sell ad space or use ads on Facebook…a full Ad and Analytic section so you can integrate with your current ad server or through your Facebook Audience Network.

  • Creating an IA doesn’t automatically create a Facebook post for you. Those will still be done in the same way they always have been by creating a new post and including the specific URL of the article.

You have questions about Instant Articles? We would love to hear them. Share yours in the comment section below. 


Business Insider

Publishers reveal what it’s really like using Facebook’s Instant Articles so far

Facebook Developer Documents

Pictures and Quotes from Facebook Instant Articles