How to Use Facebook Instant Articles to Boost Your Brand

Facebook_Instant_Article
Facebook Instant Articles can be quite powerful to increase your brand exposure. Here's how!

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On average, Facebook Instant Articles are opened 44% more than standard articles.

You probably already know how important Facebook ads are for your company, but did you know you can also market your content directly from your website onto a Facebook-native publisher?

Attention spans are shrinking. If a website takes more than 3 seconds to load, a study by Kissmetrics found that 40% of users will abandon the site. It’s clear that loading time has a huge impact on your brand.

It takes, on average, 8 seconds for a standard article to load. This causes a problem for Facebook – and for your article. Bored readers might get tired of waiting and decide to keep scrolling, missing out on your article, and possibly spending less time on Facebook.

Instant Articles were created by Facebook to directly address the problem of slow loading times on mobile. Created and hosted on Facebook, Instant Articles offer a rich and immersive experience of your article, loaded in record time – all without leaving the Facebook app.

instant article example
Facebook Instant Article

Instant Articles are rich and dynamic and have the option to include many different gorgeous interactive features that keep readers hooked on your content.

With over 2.7 billion users on Facebook, it’s definitely a market you need to tap into. The feature is a bid to get more people reading articles on Facebook (initially focusing on news content) – but you and your company can use it to your advantage too.

So how do they work and why should your company use them? In this article, we’ll show you how you can get the most out of Instant Articles!

Table of Contents

What are Instant Articles?

You may not think you know what Instant Articles are, but chances are, you’ve read them before. Facebook says that over 65 of the top 100 most-clicked domains on the platform are using the feature.

facebook instant articles website

Facebook’s main goal for Instant Articles was to tackle to problem of slow loading times on mobile.

As a result, Instant Articles are super-fast – loading as much as 10 times faster than standard articles. This kind of speed is possible because Instant Articles load directly in the Facebook app and are created and hosted through a Facebook-native publishing platform, creating a better mobile experience for the user.

With standard articles, clicking on an article through Facebook would redirect the user to the website of the publisher. However, with Instant Articles, the user never leaves the Facebook app when they click on your content.

example facebook instant article
A lightning bolt symbol indicates an Instant Article.

Record Loading Time

Because the articles are hosted on Facebook itself and not the publisher’s website, the idea is that people will spend less time waiting for articles to load and more time on Facebook reading quick loading articles.

With Instant Articles, loading time is essentially immediate. And it’s not just the text that loads so fast, all of the embedded features, images, and videos load much faster too.

The publishing platform includes loads of different features to give your articles a fully interactive feel, including image galleries that expand to full-screen view, maps, slideshows, and auto-play videos.

instant article example features images
Story-telling comes alive on Facebook like never before.

Facebook introduced the feature in 2015 and marked the introduction with a partnership with 9 launch partners: The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC News, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel, and Bild. The initial goal was to strengthen engagement through a new, fully immersive article experience with a drastically reduced loading time.

Now, Instant Articles are available for anyone to use – not only publishers and news outlets. They provide businesses with a unique opportunity to create and share content directly in the Facebook app, which Facebook promises will help your articles to perform better.

If you think you’d like to have a go at using them for your own business, keep reading.

How to Get Started With Instant Articles

Before you begin, you’ll need to already have a Facebook page set up for your brand and you’ll need to be either an Admin or Editor for that page. The sign-up process has to be completed on a computer.

1. Sign up

First, you’ll need to register to use the platform – click here to sign up for Facebook Instant Articles.

You’ll be signed into Creator Studio where you can manage your page and begin the process.

facebook creator studio

2. Select the Facebook Page You Want to Use

After signing up, click on the Content Library tab and choose Instant Articles. Next, in the upper right-hand corner, click the blue Create Article button and choose the Facebook page that you want to post the articles from.

instant articles tab

3. Choose Your URL

At this stage, add the URL of your website or blog where you originally publish the articles. The purpose of this is to verify that the account is yours and to protect you from others using your URL to publish content. Your URL at this point is to define where your articles can come from, not one article in particular that you’d like to convert into an Instant Article. You will have a chance to choose specific articles later. Then, click Configuration to continue.

There are 3 options for your URL: root domain, subdomain, or a specific path within a domain.

  • If you choose to register a root domain, you can upload from the root domain and any subdomain or domain path that comes from the root domain.
  • Choosing to register a subdomain allows you to publish through only any path or subpath that comes from the subdomain. You won’t be able to publish via the root domain.
  • And if you register a path within a domain, you’ll only be able to publish through any subpaths originating from the path within a domain. You won’t be able to publish via the root domain or the subdomain of your page this way.

Instant Articles are only available on mobile, so the URL allows users to access your article on a computer too. Without a URL, users would only be able to read your article on mobile.

4. Create Articles

Facebook will then need to approve your 10 submitted articles before you can begin publishing them. Facebook has created a way for publishers to incorporate content directly from their CMS, so there’s no need to rewrite the articles (but you can also write them yourself if you’re super tech-savvy!). The easiest way to do this is by using a plugin, but there are also a few other ways to create Instant Articles.  

  • If you use WordPress for your website, use this plugin to publish your articles. Be sure to select the plugin created by Automattic.
  • You can publish with other third-party plugins for Drupal, Tempest, Medium, and more here.
  • You can also use an API to publish your content through your CMS.
  • If you don’t use a CMS supported by Facebook, you can publish using an RSS Feed.
wordpress plugin instant articles
WordPress Plugin

5. Customize your Articles and Submit for Review

You can change the style of your article, select logos and colours, and change fonts before finally submitting them for review. There are additional technical elements you can edit, but we recommend getting help with that, as it is a lot more advanced.

Facebook will review your articles within approximately 24-48 hours, although some publishers say it’s more like 3 days-1 week. This is to verify the formatting of your articles and to make sure it matches up with what’s on your website.

The more content you have on your website at this stage, the better. You’ll want your website to reflect that you’re regularly updating it with quality content to prove it’s legitimacy. If your website hasn’t been updated in weeks or you have minimal content of bad quality, you may not be approved.

In addition to your website doing well, you need to be posting frequent content on that Facebook page too. Sharing links to your website through your Facebook page is a great place to start, as you’ll be able to direct traffic to your website this way too. This will help you get approved much sooner for Instant Articles. Otherwise, you may be denied and have to reapply before being able to finally use the feature.

If you are denied the first time you apply – don’t worry! You can apply as many times as you want, so you can always try again when your website and Facebook page are seeing more traffic and becoming more established.

This step of the process will only be necessary during the initial sign up stage, so you won’t have to do this every time you post an Instant Article.

6. Share Your Articles

When your article is ready to publish, you can share it as you normally would via the link to the article – create a post, share the link, and you’re done! Facebook won’t automatically share your content once you’re finished, so remember to share it.

Monetizing Your Articles

Why Monetize?

If you’re already monetizing your website, you should monetize your Instant Articles too. After all, users aren’t directly accessing your website through Instant Articles, so in order to make sure you can still make money off of every click, include ads here as well.

The money you make from monetizing your Instant Articles will be paid to you for every 1 thousand impressions (on the principle of eCPM – Effective Cost Per Mille impressions). So if your content does really well, you could be making a lot of money.

While it entirely depends on what country your impressions are coming from, if your rich and engaging articles start seeing success, you can expect to make approximately $1.5 to $4 CPM.

Exactly how much money you can make with Instant Articles is dependent on the frequency and quality of your content, of course. So don’t expect to be making tons of money right out of the gate. Gradually, as you increase the organic growth of your website and promote more and more articles, you can expect to see an increase in your revenue from monetizing your Instant Articles. The harder you work at it, the better you’ll do.

How to Monetize Your Articles

In terms of the types of ads you can you, there is a good variety of them. You can use banner ads, video ads (with or without sound), and other animated ads containing HTML, Javascript, or CSS.

There are 2 ways you can monetize your Instant Articles:

  • You can use Facebook’s Audience Network to monetize through the use of ads, however, Facebook will take 30% of your revenue this way. Some publishers prefer this method because the ads convert much better and you don’t have to worry about figuring it out yourself because Facebook does it for you.
  • You can also sell your own ads and keep 100% of your revenue, but Facebook has limitations on how many you can include. This option takes a bit more knowledge, as you need to integrate the ad yourself.

If you’re using ads that you collected yourself, keep in mind that they can’t exceed more than 15% of your content (images and media). If you use Facebook’s Audience Network, it will automatically select an appropriate amount of ads to keep it under the 15% threshold as well.

Audience Network

Facebook’s Audience Network is an off-Facebook advertising platform. This means it can be used on or off Facebook for mobile apps. It works kind of like Google’s AdSense, with some differences of course. Advertisers are able to sell their ads on the network for customers to use on their mobile sites and apps. Built into this network is the opportunity for monetization, and they can be used within your Instant Articles.

facebook audience network

Follow the steps below to start monetizing your Instant Articles.

Before You Begin

You can start monetizing your Instant Articles after setting up your Instant Articles feed. If you need a refresher, refer back to the How to Get Started With Instant Articles section of this article as needed.

Instant Articles are another argument in favour of Why You Need To Upgrade To Facebook Business Manager Now.

You’ll need to have Approved Audience Network content to include in your article, a personal Facebook account so that you can access your Business Manager account, and your bank account information to receive Audience Network payments. You also need source codes for ad placement and you’ll need to have some knowledge of the platform you’re using for your ads in order to integrate them – if you need help, ask us!

1. Set Up Monetization Manager

On your page, click Publishing Tools. Then, click Instant Articles (which will appear on the left of the page) and Configuration. You’ll have to accept the Terms and Conditions of the Audience Network. Finally, click Get Started.

You’ll now have access to the Monetization Manager tool.

2. Placement

Using the Monetization Manager, choose your business and your country. You’ll then need to create and name a property. This will be where your Instant Articles platform will live once you add them. Click Select Format to start your ad placement, you’ll find this button at the top of the page.

3. Integration

You’re now ready to insert your source code in order to integrate your ad placements. In the Ad Space, you’ll see the Audience Network placement ID – copy this. You’ll use the placement ID when embedding.

4. Payment/Payout Information

Once you set up your property and Business Manager, add your Payout Information. If you don’t complete this step, you won’t be able to get any Audience Network ads – or payout! – so be sure to complete it.

facebook payment information example

Now you’re ready to start making money from your Instant Articles!

To find out more about how to maximize your ad potential with your company’s own Facebook ads, check out our article The Difference Between Facebook Ads Campaigns, Ad-Sets & Ads.

Benefits of Using Instant Articles

Getting your brand set up to use Instant Articles will surely help

Call-to-Action

You might be thinking, This is great, but isn’t it taking away from my website’s traffic? – that may be true, however, Facebook’s Call-to-Action (CTA) units can be incorporated into your Instant Articles in order to create relationships and connections with your readers. Like everything else in the Instant Article, the CTA units will load super quickly.

CTA units can drive significant traffic to not only your website, but a number of your other potential products and services.

subscribe email sign up instant article CTA
Users can subscribe to emails directly in the Instant Article.

Options for CTA units include:

  • Ask users to install your app with a pop-up or button.
  • Include an option for Email Newsletter sign up.
  • Add the option for users to like your page while in the article.

These options will help readers stay connected to your brand. The email newsletter option is great because you can directly attract users who have read your article to check out your brand’s website through an email once they subscribe to them.

Less Abandonment

Facebook claims that Instant Articles don’t receive any special treatment in the algorithm, however, there are obvious benefits to having your content load much quicker with Instant Articles. The quick loading speed will show you less abandonment, which will allow your content to rank higher on the algorithm.

It’s generally a rule of thumb that you want your content to be as engaging and interesting as possible, and taking advantage of the host of features available to Instant Article users makes it much easier to do well and therefore, much easier to rank higher.

Share your Articles in 2 ways

Instant Articles are only available to read on mobile, but that doesn’t mean that users can’t read your article on a computer. Because the Instant Article’s URL is linked to your website, the desktop version of your post containing the link to the article will bring desktop readers to your website. This way, you’re simultaneously driving traffic to your Instant Article and your website, both of which can be monetized.

Control Over Your Content

With Instant Articles, you retain control of your content. You get to publish the article both on your own website and through Instant Articles. Essentially, you have your article on your website and an alternative platform to publish it on – maximizing your reach. While the Instant Article is created through Facebook, it’s highly customizable features make it easy to control your content and keep it true to your brand.

Share on Facebook and Instagram

Facebook recently unveiled a new feature that allows you to share your Instant Articles both on Facebook stories and Instagram stories. Users can open your article right from your story, making it easier than ever to access your content across both social media platforms.

Track Analytics

Measure your success in the Performance tab of your publishing tools. You can track your traffic and metrics with the insight provided by Facebook. Once you’ve established your Facebook page and published a good amount of Instant Articles, you’ll be able to use this helpful feature.

You can even view analytics specific to one Instant Article.

  • Check the number of clicks you receive on your article.
  • See the time spent by users reading your article from the minute they open it, throughout the interaction with features, to exiting the article.
  • You can also see how far users get into your article before exiting it with scroll depth metrics, as well as how many users finish the entire article.

Interactive Features

Instant Articles can be filled with loads of cool features to create a more immersive and interactive experience in your article. Rich and appealing media will attract attention and interest in your article and grow your brand, so have fun with the features available to you!

Auto-Play Video

Auto-Play Video helps your article come to life. Set up auto-play loops to grab users’ attention. Videos can be set to autoplay with sound, without sound, and in fullscreen to fully immerse users in the story. Have a look at the Video element here to find out how.

Fullscreen Snap-to-Frame

Instant Articles give you the option to set images and videos as fullscreen while scrolling with Fullscreen Snap-to-Frame, seamlessly immersing the reader in the article’s accompanying media. Zoom in and out on the media to explore and better understand the depth of the article.

facebook instant article image example
These images expand fullscreen.

Geotagging

You can add the Geotagging feature to easily identify the location of your article’s photographs. A globe symbol will appear in the upper left-hand corner of your photograph, and a simple tap of the icon will let users know the location.

Slideshow

If you’ve got a collection of photos you want to include in your article, why not group them together in a Slideshow? Check out this link for formatting help with slideshows.

Recirculation

Keep users reading your articles by using the Recirculation feature.

recirculation instant articles example

You can create a horizontal carousel of more stories from your website. This feature promises better engagement with your content and provides relevant stories for the reader based on popularity, location, and recency.

360 Degree Photo and Video

360 Degree Photos and 360 Degree Videos can even be embedded in your article. You can insert a 360-degree photo or use a panoramic photo that will automatically be rendered as a 360-degree photo in the publisher. For videos, you can either upload them or embed a link to the video that is already uploaded on Facebook.

3D Rotating Maps

Want to show your readers exactly where something is? Use 3D Rotating Maps. All you need to do is input a GPS point and set the amount of zoom you need on the map. If you need help, read more.

Embeds

While these are all of the features listed by Facebook, don’t worry – it doesn’t have to end here. With Embeds, you can customize your article. Embed tweets, Instagram posts, and other social media. You can also include ads, graphics, and additional analytics if you want – and if you feel comfortable with some coding.

embed example instant article
Customize your article with embeds, like this interactive graph.

Essentially, any HTML code that can be written into a website can be written into Instant Articles – so the options are virtually endless.

Things to Consider

While many publishers like to use the platform, some have identified issues with Instant Articles. Here are some considerations for you and your brand.

Low Revenue Potential Through Monetization for Smaller Brands

Some companies cite the amount of work necessary for a low amount of payback as a reason for not using Instant Articles. It is true that it can be difficult to configure the articles, so it’s worth looking at the size of your company and the amount of traffic you’re getting to your website and Facebook page relative to the amount of work you’ll need to put in to see results.

Start growing your brand’s online presence with help from our team today!

Traffic to Your Website Might Suffer

As Instant Articles don’t redirect to your website, you might see less traffic to your website. But if you put in the work to use CTA units in your Instant Articles, the pros may outweigh the cons. You can successfully use your Instant Article to potentially gain more reach, which in turn will make your website successful. So make sure you add those CTA units!

Additionally, you might see a spike in your Facebook page traffic if you are publishing great content.

Technical Difficulties

Again, the level of difficulty for creating an Instant Article might be more than most people can manage on their own. To remedy this, Facebook allows for plugins for easier conversion. If you’re not using a plugin, it can be much harder to figure out. Facebook has been updating the publisher periodically, so hopefully, it will get easier with time.

Instant Ads are Growing in Popularity

Facebook has been seeing an increase in Instant Article publications, and it’s not hard to see why. A quick Google about the potential negatives of using the feature returns mostly outdated results from their initial launch in 2015. That’s because Facebook has worked to resolve most of the issues users had been having in the past 5 years, and it seems they’ve done quite a good job.

They now claim to drive a global average of 44% traffic lift for publishers. In other words, 44% more Instant Articles are opened than standard articles. That’s pretty impressive.

As Facebook users grow accustomed to instantaneous content consumption, you’re going to want to have your hat in the ring with competitors that are already using the publisher. If you miss this opportunity, you risk having slower loading content and potentially losing business to a company who saw the advantages of Instant Articles.

Add Instant Articles as a part of your company’s repertoire of Facebook marketing tools – and if you’re an e-commerce marketer, Instant Articles can be used to complement your ad strategies. Read our article 10 High-Growth Facebook Ads Strategies For Ecommerce Marketers for inspiration.

Don’t Miss This Opportunity

Instant articles are downright stunning. High-quality photos and video combine with the text to tell vibrant and captivating stories. It’s an excellent new medium for creators of all kinds to work with.

You can expect Facebook to continue to roll out new features in the coming months and years to make Instant Articles more engaging – and hopefully a bit easier to configure. For the most part, the feature has proved to be popular and a great success for Facebook.

Although Facebook claims they’ve made the process of creating Instant Articles as easy as possible, it still requires a bit more than a basic level of skill. If you’re feeling stuck, we’d love to help! Get in touch with our team, and don’t forget to download our free guide on retargeting traffic and how to use paid ads to scale your agency.

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