Originally published on LoungeLizard.com on March 9, 2016 By Lounge Lizard
Are you ready for Facebook’s Instant Articles? The concept was initially launched in May of 2015, but was only available to select publishers. Facebook recently announced that they are going to open the doors to all publishers on April 12 which is good news to publishers and those businesses that utilize publishers to promote content or for advertising.
So what do you need to know?
What are Instant Articles?
In a nutshell it allows publishers to quickly create interactive articles on Facebook. The back end technology used is similar to that used for photo or video display which means on a mobile platform users should notice a load time about 10x that of standard mobile web.
Along with that speed increase is just the tip of the iceberg. Photos and images will have tilt and zoom capability. Videos can be set to auto play. Audio captions can be embedded.
The goal for Facebook is to allow total control by publishers. There are customization options, the ability to sell ads within your own articles, and even a WordPress plugin that can be used. Instant Articles are published daily and available to anyone using Facebook on iPhone or Android platforms.
Initially only nine major publishers are using Instant Articles, but there is enough content published to allow everyone a chance to see what is possible.
Why should you care?
This platform has the potential to be a game changer. Instant Articles offer an amazing look that users will flock to, enjoying a unique mobile reading experience. They have a suite of multimedia features that will allow anyone and everyone to produce rich, interesting, interactive, engaging content.
Any time a new platform is launched with a lot of hype, users pay attention and will try it out. Right now traffic is strong, especially for people that enjoy the nine publishers using it. For example, The New York Times noticed a quick surge in traffic after joining Instant Articles.
After the mainstream launch we expect a lot more users will regularly take advantage of this exciting new way to enjoy articles which will create a surge of popularity along with a wave of opportunity.
Getting yourself established quickly as an interesting brand and voice on the channel should be a top goal of any news publisher that regularly posts content and utilizes social media to expand their reach.
How can you get ready?
While some people might be content to wait another month for the gates to open, it would be a wise decision to start preparing now so that as soon as you have access to all those fun toys you can take advantage of them. Even if you are only looking at IA as a good marketing location, preparation is always a good idea.
- Read current Instant Articles – Get an idea of what works, what doesn’t work, and how your content or ads would compete.
- Read the Instant Article Facebook Page – You can get a lot of good information from users as they complain about various aspects and limitations of the platform. This data provides a unique view about things not to do that annoy users.
- Consider your Content Calendar – Identify good topics that would be fit the Instant Articles profile and start to make adjustments as to what you would do differently based on what you know about the IA environment.
- Draft Samples – If you have good topics ideas you can always start working on the articles now so that when the doors open you can focus on the technology side rather than the content side.
- Contact Publishers – If you regularly publish content via publisher websites you should start checking to see who will be on board with IA from day 1 and who won’t.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that this will not be for everyone, simply because some people and businesses avoid change like the plague. However we have seen how interesting and engaging this platform can be and over the past few years platforms that can be both interesting and engaging tend to perform very well. If you are a content publisher or someone who regular uses content publishers to promote your stories then the smart money says you should get ready for Facebook’s Instant Articles before the competition does.