What are Facebook Instant Articles and what do you need to know about them as a business owner?
Well, the reason Facebook users find them so ideal is because when you tap on a Facebook Instant Article, the article loads…well, instantly.
And that is opposed to an article that leads to a regular external website.
So today, we’ll be talking about Facebook Instant Articles.
Let’s go ahead and dive in!
- Instant Articles load over 4.9x faster than mobile web across regions and devices, meaning lower bounce rates and deeper engagement.
- You can’t leverage the traffic you get from Facebook Instant Articles on other platforms outside of Facebook and Instagram.
- Track everything for the first few weeks or months to determine if it’s worth it based on what your specific business goals are.
What Are Facebook Instant Articles?
The easiest way to explain them is to show you, so take a look at the gif below.
Let’s look at our user experience of clicking on a regular article that links to another website.
It takes around 5 seconds to fully load, and then you can see it’s still sort of loading things as we scroll along.
Now, let’s look at an example of a Facebook Instant Article.
Buzzfeed is usually pretty good about using them, and you can tell it’s an Instant Article by the lightning bolt symbol on it.
As you can see there’s zero load time. It’s already there. And even as we scroll, it’s not lagging, things aren’t slowly popping up, it’s all just already there.
And that’s because Facebook Instant Articles are native to the Facebook platform. You’re not sending your traffic elsewhere.
Facebook says that:
“Instant Articles load over 4.9x faster than mobile web across regions and devices, meaning lower bounce rates and deeper engagement, which is why over 37,000 Pages on Facebook use Instant Articles.”
Other sources have said:
“When compared with regular news feed articles, Instant Articles resulted in 20% more clicks, 30% more shares and were 70% less likely to be abandoned.”
So the biggest point of using Facebook Instant Articles is that the load time is so much quicker.
And therefore, the time that users spend looking at your content is typically longer.
But hold up, Facebook said over 37,000 pages use Instant Articles… but there are over 60 million active business pages?!
So what’s the deal? Why are only such a small fraction of businesses use Instant Articles?
Well, there are actually a few reasons. So with that, let’s go ahead and get into the pros and cons of Facebook Instant Articles.
Pros Of Using Facebook Instant Articles For Your Business
We’ve already discussed the first two pros of Facebook Instant Articles which are:
1. Quicker Load Time
2. Extended Time Viewing Your Content
So let’s go ahead and round out the rest of the pro list and then we’ll get into the cons.
3. Monetize Your Instant Articles
The third pro is that you can make a little extra cash by monetizing your Instant Articles with ads.
This means you allow other people’s ads to appear throughout your Instant Article.
4. Greater Reach and Engagement On Facebook
The fourth pro is boosting your reach and engagement on the Facebook platform.
Remember earlier when we said Instant Articles get 20% more clicks and 30% more shares?
Shares mean the friends of the person who shared the article can see it too, which just means you can build brand awareness more organically.
Facebook goes even further than that “20% more clicks” number by saying:
“Facebook users open 52% more articles when they’re published as Instant Articles instead of a mobile web link.”
Plus, videos can be set to autoplay within Instant Articles seamlessly.
And you can enable a 360 video to be rendered in your article (which is where the reader can tilt their phone and feel immersed into the video).
All of these things make for a great user experience, similar to what you find within an app. Thus, increasing time on your article and engagement.
Cons Of Using Facebook Instant Articles For Businesses
1. Not Sending Traffic To Your Website
You could probably cookie people to some degree by making an audience out of people who have engaged with your Facebook posts in Facebook Ads Manager.
But, it’s still not the same as having that traffic on your website that you own.
You can’t leverage the traffic you get from Facebook Instant Articles on other platforms outside of Facebook and Instagram.
Well, that is unless you get their contact information.
Which, it is worth noting that Facebook does give you the option to include an email opt-in in your Instant Article.
This is for readers to be able to submit their contact information to you.
And we think Facebook was intentional about that, because they knew losing the ability to track and retarget readers could be a big deterrent to business owners.
But, there is still a gap between the people who just read your article without submitting their contact info.
You won’t be able to plug them into other parts of your marketing funnel.
2. May Lessen Your Reputation Because Of Ads
Some would argue that you may receive a less-than-great reputation than if you just linked to your website because of all the ads.
Instant Articles released in 2016 and since then, the ad usage within Instant Articles has increased quite a bit over the years.
People who are scrolling through may feel irritated just trying to read through your Instant Article.
That’s because seeing all the irrelevant ads in between every other paragraph might make them associate that negative feeling with your brand.
They typically would run into less or no ads on your own website.
3. Don’t Get To Nurture Readers
This con is similar to the first two, and it’s that, you don’t get to nurture readers as much.
When someone lands on your website, they are in your world, right?
You can create an environment of bingeable content that is all:
- strategically branded,
- coded, and
- laid out to your liking,
…because it’s your website! You own it!
Although Instant Articles do provide customizable layout features to make it look a little more branded for your business.
However, it’s still not the same as sending people to your website where you have total control.
4. Requires Extra Time and Manpower
Per some of Facebook’s later updates, the way Instant Articles work now is that the article:
- must first be published on your website,
- and then converted into an Instant Article
There are some plugins you can use for certain websites like WordPress that make this easier.
But for minimum quality assurance, you’re still going to need to assign time and/or labor to ensure everything transfers over smoothly.
So with all of those pros and cons, we guess the question is, are Instant Articles worth it?
Is It Worth Investing In Facebook Instant Articles?
While having content on your website seems to be the safer bet for a lot of businesses, in terms of your overall marketing funnel…
…stats like the one we looked at earlier seem to point towards Facebook users engaging with Instant Articles better.
And this is definitely something to note specifically for your Facebook marketing strategy.
So our suggestion, if you do try it, is this:
Track EVERYTHING for the first few weeks or months to determine if it’s worth it based on what your specific business goals are.
If Facebook Instant Articles is something you’re wanting to try, you can head to Facebook Creator Studio to sign up.
Remember that you need to have a Facebook business page in order to do this. You can’t just do it from your regular, personal account.
Once you’re in Facebook Creator Studio, it will give you prompts to follow to make sure your page is eligible for monetization.
Part of this process includes sending 10 production articles to Facebook to review.
This will serve as a sample of what kind of content you expect to publish on Instant Articles.
From there Facebook will review your work to see if you are eligible to publish Instant Articles.
Quick question for you, have you already used Facebook Instant Articles? If so, how’s your experience with them?
If this is something you want to learn more about and explore, you can get some sound advice from one of our social media marketing consultant!
Get in touch with our Facebook marketing company today.