Should you Jump on the Facebook Instant Articles Bandwagon?
By Hallie Moser
I’m sure you remember last year when Facebook invited select publishers to publish Instant Articles through their program. This exclusivity made major headlines as it separated the big dogs from the rest of the crowd, making everyone want in on the action.
Most recently, Facebook opened the Instant Articles door to all publishers—any type, any size, anywhere in the world. With this growth comes some concern over Facebook’s control of information (and the world) and a debate between marketing professionals on if they should to jump on the bandwagon or continue solely posting to their own website.
If you’re having a similar debate, here are some pros and cons we compiled to help you make the best decision for your team:
If your goal is to get content in front of people, Instant Articles is far from the worst platform. Facebook is the leader in social media channels with 1.6 billion users (more than 60 percent of whom are logged on for at least 20 minutes each day).
As you know, the more presence you have on the Internet, the greater your following will be, and ultimately the more leads you will attract, so utilizing this content option is a great way to spread awareness.
In terms of aesthetics, the Instant Articles visuals are bomb. The images are vivid (even if you zoom all the way in), you can enact a timely auto-play video, and you can even use cinemagraphs to transform the visuals to a whole new level.
Revenue-wise, you can sell your own ads or use the Facebook Audience Network. The deal is: if you sell your own ads you’ll get 100% of the revenue, but if you go through Facebook, they keep 30%, which seems pretty fair to me.
The instantaneity is also a major perk (hence “instant” articles) with loading times said to be 20x faster than other platforms. The whole experience is quick and seamless, while preserving the look and feel of your site, just in a minimalist form.
Core website neglect:
The catch, however, is that you are promoting Instant Articles through Facebook and not pulling any traffic to your core website. You might get more traction to your Facebook Page, but there are not CTA’s and SEO-triggering links being built on your company page to carry your leads through the funnel.
You can track these articles using web analytics tools like Google Analytics, ComScore, Omniture if your interest is knowing the overall visitor counts of your content, but it won’t count towards your referral visits on your own website (since visitors are not actually visiting your site).
There is also a rising fear of Facebook sucking the life out of the Internet because, for many of its users, it has become the Internet—being used as a search, social, and news outlet. Mark Zuckerberg’s growing control over how we receive information, or as marketers, how our client’s information is being portrayed is also unsettling. To apply you must supply at least 50 articles, which might not be too hard for content buffs, but is a lot of content to entrust in a fairly new program.
Lastly, some companies have experienced technical issues when publishing citing that their content didn’t translate easily into the Instant Articles format. I’m sure is mostly due to growing pains felt by the program, but something to keep in mind when deciding if making the switch if for you.
WITH ALL THAT BEING SAID…My Thoughts?
I kind of love it.
In my humble opinion, it’s a great way to reach a large audience and give that large audience the easy and beneficial experience you promised.
After all, that is the end goal, right? To give your visitors the knowledge they deserve while building a solid relationship of trust with them? There is no arguing the speed and slick design of Instant Articles, as well as the usability and shareability of the articles through the program, can improve the users experience immensely.
This is the most important thing to marketers (or if it’s not it should be), because if people trust that your page will load quickly they’re more likely to view your content instead of clicking out of your webpage, flustered and frustrated.
Because the platform is only available on mobile it appeals to the 25% of U.S. mobile web users who are mobile-only (meaning they rarely use a desktop to access the web). This could be the first step your company takes to switch to a “mobile-first” approach; which might feel uncomfortable and limiting otherwise, getting used to working with the smaller screen, fewer resources, and analyzing finger taps instead of mouse hovers and clicks. Instant Articles will format your content for mobile-friendly user access that, along with your other desktop accessible content, will be a great step in the mobile-first direction.
If you’re still a little hesitant to take the plunge, maybe it will give you the comfort you need knowing there’s always the “unpublish” button as a backup. You can return to safety if you find that Facebook is in fact taking over the world, or plotting to change the algorithms in the future.
In the meantime, if you need any help getting that content count to 50 check out our blog post on refining your writing for online use here.
Or, if you already have content marketing down and you need a way to integrate it into your overall online marketing strategy, download our inbound marketing success guide and it’ll give you some amazing campaign advice.