Facebook has officially become a potential competitor to Google when it comes to the information market. In addition to introducing the "buy now" feature which essentially transformed the social platform into an online marketplace, the social media giant also launched Instant Articles, which enabled users to view full-length content without leaving the app.
It's as if Facebook is trying to have its own, well, piece of the internet.
If you think about it, this could have drastic effects on the entire digital marketing industry. By consolidating the social community and the growing reserves of informative content, digital marketers will probably rely less on optimizing the clickthrough rate (CTR) to bring their target audience to an external website.
Fortunately, the technology is still quite young and marketers have plenty of time to adapt and adjust their strategies. But first, let's take a closer look at Facebook Instant Articles and where it currently stands:
What is Facebook Instant Articles?
First of all, remember that Facebook's motivation for Instant Articles is to improve the user experience for mobile users. Without Instant Articles, mobile users will have to click through a link which can be opened via a mobile web browser. And quite frankly, these browsers are not really offer the most intuitive and optimal experience. Not to mention that it can get annoying for mobile users to constantly switch apps whenever opening a link.
What are the Benefits of Instant Articles?
If you want your brand to stay afloat in 2016, then you should be quick to adapt.
Remember that it wasn't too long ago when Google announced that the volume of search engine uses from mobile users have overtaken that of desktop's. This means that in the foreseeable future, most of your audience will probably be using a mobile device to access your content. And if there's one thing digital marketing has taught us through the years, it's that users are attracted to speed and exceptional user experience.
"One of the many advantages of Instant Articles is that the platform will display content in a way that's most suited for mobile users," says Gareth Bull of Bulldog Digital Marketing. "All a user has to do is to use a single finger to flick through the screen and scroll down."
In addition to convenience for mobile users, Instant Articles also aim to include extended functionality for mobile content. Using HTML5, posts may contain various content elements like audio captions, interactive applets, and autoplay videos; most of which do not require a mouse or keyboard to access. Of course, content marketers will have to learn how to fully utilize this in order to remain competitive in 2016.
Based on Instant Articles' features (and Facebook's gigantic community), it is the next top platform to use if you want to keep your target audience happy. It allows content publishers to quickly deliver articles to their followers and maximize publicity. In return, Facebook will pocket more advertising dollars.
Who Uses Instant Articles?
There is documentation on how brands can publish web content straight from their CMS here.
However, this feature is only accessible to major information exchange websites. The Washington Post is one of the best examples.
Publishing around 1,200 articles on a daily basis, Instant Articles have made it possible for users to access all of them without switching apps on mobile.
Consumers win, hands down, in all of this," says executive director of emerging news products Cory Haik in this post at NiemanLab regarding the clear winner in the collaboration of publishers and Instant articles. "If we end up making more money as a publisher, that's fantastic. I don't think that's going to be an afterthought or byproduct; I think there is a way to win from the business perspective."
Given that businesses will still be fiddling around the platform within the next few months, there's no conclusive strategy to maximize revenue with Instant Articles. However, using the platform clearly results in better social engagement, which will definitely be an advantage all things considered.
Aside from the Washington Post, other publishers have shared similar perspectives on how effective Instant Articles is for improving social engagement. And just like Washington Post, these platforms are seeing substantial gains in article views within a week.
A month after being launched, a total of 18 brands are currently publishing their content on Instant Articles. Some examples would be Moviepilot, The Atlantic, and Slate. The only concern at the moment would be the profit model, which is not yet entirely favourable for these brands.
How brands can maximize Instant Articles
Having a blog is an excellent way to build your brand's image while augment your audience's trust in your credibility and expertise through Instant Articles.
You can see successful online brands like the ones mentioned above practice this strategy for lead generation, nurturing, and authority development.
Consider all the other benefits that a blog brings to your site, add the potential of reaching out to your audience more effectively through Instant Articles, and you have a recipe for a better content marketing strategy waiting for your implementation.
Using RSS, you quickly push your content from an external content management system, such as an external blog. Most existing content management systems already support RSS. And once Instant Articles opens its doors to publishers, they can easily integrate their feed to Facebook to complete the automation.
Wrapping it all up
Considering that Facebook Instant Articles is only available to select publications, there will come a time when it will become available to all. Before that day comes, it is best to take notes of the developments made for this Facebook feature.
As publishers, looking for different channels where to showcase your content must be your priority. By seeing the trends of Instant Articles as featured below, you will know how to use this feature once it is rolled out for all publishers.