Despite the growing number of mobile users, the mobile user experience is still often overlooked by many brands and publishers. It can take forever to load some websites on mobile, and once they have loaded, the user interface isn't optimized for mobile, making it impossible to navigate and access the relevant information.Poor user experience like this leads to visitors abandoning your website, leading to countless missed opportunities.
In the modern digital landscape it's no longer a question whether mobile marketing is important. We know it is.
To help address such concerns, Facebook has taken the first steps to radically the improve user experience on mobile - even if a publishers' website is not up to speed. Publishers are now allowed to syndicate their content to Facebook via their new 'Instant Articles' offering. Instant Articles communicate direct with Facebook's systems, enabling them to load... well, instantly. The feature also enables publishers to utilize unique Facebook publisher tool to improve the presentation of their Instant content.
So what does all this mean for publishers? What happens to ad revenues and traffic for those who utilize this new option?
Here are the answers to 6 of the most common questions about Instant Articles.
1. How do you set up Instant Articles?
Once you decide to syndicate your content with Facebook, you have to generate a special RSS feed for your Instant Articles and connect this feed to your Facebook Page. Fortunately, there's an official plugin and guides which make it super easy to set it up on any WordPress site.
After finishing the setup process, you have to submit your website for review.
2. What happens to my content?
An Instant Article is a mobile optimised HTML5 document, which dramatically improves user experience for users who are reading articles by via Facebook's mobile app - which, given the latest stats, will be a lot of people.
After syndicating your content, there isn't anything extra you need to do, just keep publishing articles on your website and sharing them on Facebook as you did before. Your articles will be automatically hosted, not just on your website, but on Facebook's Instant Articles too.
3. How will it improve the user experience?
Articles that have an Instant Article version are marked with a lightning bolt sign, as you can see in the image below:
Once your mobile user clicks on the article, they'll be redirected to the 'Instant' version of your original post. Your articles will load 10 times faster than before, with a much cleaner and simpler design. The new format also doesn't force users to change their current sharing habits. If an Instant Article is shared outside of Facebook (let's say on Twitter), those users clicking on that link will be redirected to the original version of your article, published on your website.
4. What's the response to Instant Articles been like so far?
According to Facebook's stats, Instant Articles are getting higher engagement than traditional ones. Instant Articles are generating 20% more clicks on average, and once those users arrive, they're 70% less likely to abandon the post because they're not stuck waiting for it to load. Instant content has also been generating around 30% more shares than mobile web articles, on average.
5. Can publisher place ads on Instant Articles content?
Facebook strictly regulates the way ads are served and placed within an Instant Article, leading to a cleaner, faster and safer browsing experience. Ads are placed automatically, but can be manually moved.
Banners can be included for every 350 words of content. If your content consists primarily of images or videos, then ads must not exceed 15% of the content. Publishers can decide either to sell ads themselves (keeping 100% of the revenue) or to allow Facebook to handle ad selling (keeping 70% of the revenue).
Video ads also can be placed at the bottom of the articles; however, supporting sponsored content is currently just a plan.
Facebook also allows publishers to put a signup form at the bottom of every Instant Article, helping publishers to capture leads and newsletter subscribers. Unfortunately, paywalls aren't supported yet.
6. How do publishers access data about readership on Instant Articles content?
Facebook provides engagement data through its built-in dashboard, but Instant Articles is compatible with industry-standard analytics tools, and web-based tools can also be used to track visitors. Analytics tools will track Instant Article visitors similarly to visitors who read your article in Facebook's embedded web browser.
We're living in a mobile world with millions of people browsing via mobile phone. Despite the significant proportion of mobile users, a lot of websites still don't provide a satisfying mobile experience. Facebook has taken the first step to improve the user experience by providing publishers the opportunity to syndicate their content and improve delivery for mobile users. Instant Articles is still an evolving platform, meaning that it's continuously changing according to publisher's feedback. New features will be added and the platform will likely become even more tempting for publishers over time.