So this is what happened. I realize that I have to write an article here on NealSchaffer.com. I log into WordPress and write the title. Just as I do that, I get a push notification of someone retweeting my post. I go through the tweet, check out his profile, check out his startup, verify if it’s funded or not, and read his blog. All this while I completely forgot about what I was supposed to be doing. What does this have to do with Facebook Instant Articles?
The attention span of humans is decreasing. It decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to just above 8 seconds. A goldfish in comparison has an attention span of 9 seconds. We have reached a stage where a tiny goldfish is more focused than us. The millennials especially have volatile minds. They constantly seek entertainment. So when they try to read an article on the go, the publisher has 8 seconds to load the page and gain their attention. Facebook was early to notice this trend and introduced Facebook Instant Article.
Facebook Instant Articles give publishers a platform to publish original work on Facebook without the loading times. According to Facebook, they load about 10 times faster than the regular ones. So are Facebook Instant Articles just a faster horse or does it go beyond that? Let’s find out.
Benefits of using Facebook Instant Articles
Fast Loading Times
90% of Facebook’s daily active users are mobile. Facebook has been trying to improve their experience. Facebook Canvas was released to improve storytelling abilities on mobile. Instant Articles help as they load 10 times faster than regular articles. You can identify instant articles with the ‘lightning bolt’ sign on the image. Since users access these articles instantly, they are 70% less likely to abandon them.
Rich Interface Just Like a Website
Interaction with a platform depends on the experience. If the usage times need to be increased, the experience has to be improved. Facebook has delivered that with Instant Article which gives a rich interface. The bezel-less images, rich videos, map 3d views are a breath of fresh air when consuming content online. Users were subjected to the dull templates on the publisher’s website until Instant Article.
Facebook marketing has its own challenges. One of the pain points is to generate revenue from your marketing efforts online. You can’t directly make money using Facebook. Facebook Instant Article allows you to insert ads within your content. Just like Google Adsense, you can make money by allowing ads to be placed in your published content.
Faster loading times and rich interface have resulted in greater engagement times. According to Facebook, users tend to share Instant Articles 30% more than normal web articles. Since the content looks great, users have a great experience interacting with the article and sharing it. It is prudent for publishers to start experimenting with Facebook Instant Article quickly.
Before you jump the gun, there are certain limitations with Instant Articles that you have to consider.
Limitations of Facebook Instant Articles
Limited Sharing Options
Facebook may not be the only social network you’re targeting. You may be getting tons of engagement on Pinterest or LinkedIn too. Are you limited in sharing to these platforms? Turns out, they do. Facebook Instant Articles let you share the post on Facebook and Twitter but doesn’t allow you to share it anywhere else.
To share it on other networks, select ‘Open in Browser’ and access the social sharing plugins within the website to share. This limits the user’s experience and offsets the advantage gained by using them in the first place.
No Share Count Within the Article
Surprisingly, Facebook Instant Articles don’t show the total shares within the article. If you look at the image at the start of this article, you’ll notice that this Buzzfeed article scored 47 shares. There’s no mention of that within the article. Users tend to share articles which have done well. They do not want to be associated with low authority content. Facebook has missed a trick by not giving the total share count within the article itself.
Setting Up is Tedious
Setting up Facebook Instant Articles is not really a walk in the park. You need to have a little technical support to get it up and running. There is a WordPress plugin which should help you. Keep the app id and app secret handy to log in and select the pages you want to publish to. It can get a little complicated if you don’t have valid credentials here. As I mentioned earlier, ask you tech support to set it up for you. That’s what I did.
Facebook Instant Articles are here to stay. They identified a problem long before it was evident and came up with a solution. Start using it to enhance you reader’s experience. Track your competition on Facebook. Have they implemented it yet? Keep an eye out for the limitations, though. Don’t just venture into without analyzing your traffic sources. Start slow, and evaluate if it works for you. Don’t let the goldfish win.