The social media giant Facebook teamed up with Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, to create, Facebook Instant Articles.
The story is simple. 25% of the entire web uses WordPress, and it is by far the most popular CMS (content management system). Social Media marketing is integral to your advertisement campaign, and Facebook is a massive social media platform with millions of users. So, Facebook and Automattic have taken the liberty to give WordPress and Facebook users the convenience to seamlessly share their website content as Facebook Instant Articles.
Market analysis suggests that people tend to share Instant Articles more with their friends and family compared to their web article counterpart. The reason might lie in the fact that Instant Articles provides the user with a more deep and immersive experience.
What is Facebook Instant Articles?
Facebook Instant Articles is a feature (plugin for WordPress) to provide faster load times (10 times faster to be exact) for your content by using a customized mobile format. This is actually the same technology Facebook uses on their mobile app. A WordPress user can install a Instant Articles plugin on their site and then after setting up everything can quickly and effortlessly adapt their web content to be displayed on Facebook in the Instant Article Format. It comprises of interactive tools that help to make stories more lively and engaging on the mobile platform. It also includes auto play video features and tap to zoom image galleries.
The better load times and convenient viewing in mobile environments ensures for a better user experience. And since most people are inclined towards using their mobile devices for the majority of the day, a conveniently accessible content on social media platforms ensures larger exposure.
Below is an example of how a typical web article will look like as an Instant Article. To the left-hand side is the mobile web article and to the right-hand side is its Instant Article counterpart.
The plugin does a marvelous job in specifying the correct markup for images on your content so that the photo rendering is perfect. It can also seamless embed third party video players into the Instant Article experience.
How to use Facebook Instant Article?
Before setting up the Instant Articles feature, there are some basic requirements that you will have to meet.
- You will need a Facebook page for your website.
- You will also need a Facebook page app – details are provided later on.
- A website hosting a minimum of ten articles.
- Instant Article WP plugin installed on your website – this needs further getting into.
If you meet all these requirements, then the next thing you would want to do is sign up for Facebook instant Articles. The procedure is simple and basic.
Go to Facebook Instant Articles and just click on the signup button, select the Facebook page, agree to their terms and conditions and then you can “Access Instant Articles Tools”.
Now comes the part that needs a little description. After you have signed up for Instant Articles you will see an “Instant Articles” section on your Facebook’s publisher tools page. From here, the first thing you have to do is claim your URL, hence proving you are the site owner.
All you have to do is go to the Tools section, click the “claim your URL” button, copy the code snippet that shows up, and paste it into the head section of your WordPress site. After this, you will want to copy your site’s URL below the code snippet on your Facebook page and then click claim URL.
Now after you have verified to Facebook that you are the owner of the site, you will have to add an Instant Article RSS Feed for your website.
To do this, first you need to install and activate the Instant Article for WP plugin which will then start generating an Instant Articles feed for your WordPress site. All you need to do to find the feed is simply add:- “/feed/instant-articles” at the end of your site’s URL.
In your Facebook page’s publication tool section, you should see a “Production RSS Feed” area. Expand it and then paste your Instant Articles feed URL in the designated space.
Now that you have claimed your website and have set up your RSS feed, the next thing you will want to do is –
Set Up the Instant Articles Plugin for Your WP Site
After you have activated the plugin you will notice that a new menu item has appeared in your WordPress admin bar – “Instant Articles”. This option will take you to the plugin’s setting page.
To complete the activation you will need to provide an App ID and Secret keys for the activation. These two things requires for you to have a Facebook app. So let’s dive into how you can create a Facebook app for your page.
This is a fairly simple task and you need to follow the steps provided below to get the job done:
- Visit Facebook for Developers website.
- Click on “My Apps” drop down menu and then click on “Add a New App”.
- Select on “Website” option in the popup screen.
- Now type in your app name and click “Create New Facebook App ID”.
- Provide your email and select a category for your App.
- The next thing you will have to do is provide your site URL in the quick start page and you good to go.
This isn’t a detailed review on how to create a Facebook app for your site and there are more setting up to be done, but this is all you needed to do regarding this context.
You can now skip the quick startup procedure by clicking the corresponding skip button which will land you on your app’s dashboard.
From here you have to click on the “App Review” link and make your app live and public. By default, it would be in development mode.
Now your app’s dashboard has your App ID and Secret key which now you can copy and paste it into the corresponding field on the plugin settings on your WordPress site.
After you have copy pasted the info, the plugin’s setting page will prompt you to login to your Facebook account.
After logging in, all that remains to be done is to go to your Facebook account and give the app permission to access your profile info and then head to your WordPress dashboard, then Instant articles section and select your Facebook page on the “select page” drop down menu.
Now you have successfully activated Instant Articles for your WordPress Website.
Branding Your Instant Articles
You might want or deserve to have your own branding labeled with your content in the Instant Articles format on Facebook; this can be handled quite easily.
All you need to do is go to the admin bar on your Facebook page, click on publishing tools, and select the “Configuration” section under Instant Articles.
Here you will find the tools section where the style tab is located. Click to expand it, and you should see that a default style has been added to your website. You can customize this to suit your own specific needs. From here you can also upload your website’s logo.
Submitting your Instant Article Feed for Review
The first thing you have to make sure before submitting your articles feed for review is whether your website has a minimum of 10 articles or not. If you don’t have ten articles, then complete this criterion first.
Now, if you have ten articles on your site but your feed is not showing any of them, then you simply have to edit and update each of them and the problem should be resolved.
Well, now that you have ten articles on your website and it is showing on your Instant Articles feed, it is time for you to head on over and send it to Facebook for reviewing.
Simply go to your Facebook page and then go to the publishing tools option. Click on “Configuration” which will be located under the Instant Articles section in your left-hand side menu.
You are now looking for “Step 2: Submit for Review” option. Just click the option, and you’ve done all there is do on your part. All you need to do now is wait for Facebook’s team to review and approve your team and then you will have access to Instant Articles for Facebook.
Note: this option will not show if there are any issue/error with your Instant Articles Feed.
Pros and Cons of FaceBook Instant Articles
So know that we understand how to use Facebook’s new innovative feature, lets see what are the drawbacks and perks it brings to the table so you can judge whether or not you need it for your social marketing campaign.
- Faster load times
- Increased chances for content sharing
- Monetization options through Facebook audience network.
- Boosted reach of your Facebook page.
- Increased chances of getting more traffic from the massive userbase present on Facebook.
- You will not get your users/ content readers to utilise your useful widgets, email list forms and all the other things that are found on your site but isn’t an integral part of your content.
- Decrease in ad revenue as Facebook Instant Articles limits the number of ads one can see on an article.
- You will also get to show a limited number of images and videos on your articles.
- Shortcodes, custom fields and other things will not be shown on the Instant Article.
For Facebook to optimize your web articles for the mobile platform, make them more engaging and load at a ten times more faster speed, they need you to meet some specifications.
Most of these are handled by the plugin installed on your WordPress website, but due to some compatibility issue with the theme and other plugins you are using on your site, there might me minor issues that you will have to face. In fact, most of these issues are caused by themes and plugins adding content elements to your posts which are not supported by the transform rules used by the Instant Articles plugin.
The simplest way to troubleshoot these issues is by editing a post and scrolling down to the Facebook Instant Articles meta box. To rectify the problems you can either create your custom transform rules or configure your plugins and theme not to add content blocks on your post. These are a bit advanced aspects, and beginners might consider hiring a professional to tackle this.
Hope this has given you an overall idea on how to use Facebook Instant Articles and what type of sites can benefit from the features. For example, a news based websites or sites with a similar niche can benefit from this, but there is little to gain for business oriented websites.