Facebook Instant Articles unrolled to all publishers four years ago to provide a faster way to distribute content from their websites.
Although Facebook’s algorithms changed drastically through this period of time, it is still one of the most popular ways to share and monetize articles. Facebook Instant Articles has 4x faster loading time and 44% more openings than mobile articles.
If you post a link to the article, normally Facebook will redirect you to the page. That is the usual way, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But often, it takes more than just a few seconds to load that page. Even the best-optimized pages can load around 8 seconds and that is a lot more than an average user is willing to wait (which is 3 seconds). So it can result in aborting the process. This is where Facebook Instant Articles are winning.
The Pros of Facebook Instant Articles
This feature is good for Facebook, it will keep users staying in the app. It is even better for the users, saving them from the hassle of redirecting, and they’ll get their content immediately. But how good is it for publishers?
It is customizable, which means you can display your brand theme, like colors, logo, and tag line. You can add your email and related content which will redirect users to more of your content. Even if users aren’t reading your article, they will see the elements of your brand and become more familiar with it. The more publicity you have, the easier it will be to reach customers.
The statistics say that you will get around 20% more clicks, 30% more shares, and even 70% fewer people will abandon the content. That is very optimistic. Thanks to Facebook Instant Article’s great performance, users will not just stay, but also very likely come back to read more of your content. It will increase your visits and engagement, and that’s the whole point, right?
In the end, if your article is good and catchy, you will draw users and it will result in going to your website, to check it. You can make an article more attractive (besides the brand features I already mentioned) by adding bold words, bullet points, etc.
The Cons of Facebook Instant Articles
Even the customization of an article is better than we expected, there are a few problems. You can input some photos and graphics, but not interactive media such as slideshows, videos, etc.
The advertising options are also limited. You can use Facebook’s ads in which case you get 70%. Or you can use your own ads, keep 100% of the profit, but there is a limit on how many you can place.
Another con is the fact that users are not directed to your website anymore. It is not necessarily a bad thing, if your content is good they will find a way to reach you. But if your main goal of being present on social media is driving traffic to your website, then this option is not for you.
On their Instant Articles Policies page Facebook does not give the exact numbers and examples of which articles will be approved, But, here are some rough conditions:
- Understandably, you need to have a website. It should be stable and easy to navigate. The brand new websites will not be taken into consideration. Do not order people to log on to your website.
- Content in Facebook Instant Articles, excluding ads, must look the same as the content in the web version of the article. They are pretty strict about the links you share, too, so check the policy before you start.
- There are design guidelines you must follow regarding the format of your article. You are not allowed to include multiple articles.
- You can not call a user to any kind of system dialogue, such as giving location, using a camera, microphone, etc.
- You also need to format ads properly, by following the instructions. It must be clearly marked and visible that the content is sponsored. They must be properly placed and fixed not to block the content.
- If you become inactive, don’t have an audience, or break any of the policies, Facebook may break the cooperation.
The decision whether you will publish on Facebook Instant Articles or not should be made depending on which are your marketing goals. Giving Facebook “control” over your articles may not seem like a good idea to you, especially if you are using social media to redirect traffic to your website. And it is also hard to imagine that this would be a serious income for any brand.
However, you also have nothing to lose, except a little bit of time. The ads may be a worthy part of the whole concept, so if you decide to place your own and use this to your advantage, it can be good at the end.