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social media how to Have you heard of Facebook Instant Articles?

Want to publish your own Instant Articles on Facebook?

Unlike most new Facebook features, Facebook Instant Articles isn’t something that you’ll be able to use as soon as it becomes available in April. You’re going to need to do some prep work.

In this article you’ll discover how Facebook instant articles work and what you need to do now to prepare for the release on April 12.

prepare for facebook instant articles

Discover what marketers and publishers need to know about how Facebook Instant Articles work and what to do to prepare.

How Facebook Instant Articles Work

If you’ve ever clicked on an article link in the Facebook app, you know that no matter how well the website is optimized for mobile, you always have to wait for the site to load before you can get to the content.

Facebook Instant Articles solves this by allowing publishers to optimize their content so readers can access it instantly. The following video shows the difference between two Huffington Post articles. The first goes to the Huffington Post website, and the second goes to content optimized for Facebook Instant Articles.

As you can see, the Facebook instant article loads immediately, giving content users exactly what they want with minimal wait time. Note that if desktop users click on a link to your content, they’ll be taken to your website as usual.

When mobile users share Facebook instant articles, people who click on the shared link will go to the instant article or the website, depending on whether they’re using a mobile device or desktop browser.

In terms of referral traffic, mobile users who view your content as a Facebook instant article won’t actually visit your website, and therefore won’t be counted as referral traffic from Facebook. But you can use standard web analytics tools like Google Analytics to track traffic to Facebook instant articles to retain your overall visitor counts.

How to Prepare for Facebook Instant Articles

The prep work you’ll need to do depends on the platform you use to publish your content, the amount of content you publish, and your technical expertise.

That’s why I suggest that if you’re interested in using Facebook Instant Articles, you take the following steps immediately.

#1: Know What You’ll Need for Facebook Instant Articles

There are a few things you’ll need to use Facebook Instant Articles:

  • A Facebook page.
  • The Facebook Pages app to preview your instant articles on your mobile device (iPhone or Android).
  • An RSS feed that displays the full content of your articles if you want to automate publishing your content to Facebook Instant Articles.
  • Facebook Instant Articles markup on your blog or website. WordPress users will be able to use an official plugin that’s currently in development or the PageFrog plugin available now, which also enables support for Google Accelerated Mobile Pages.
  • A minimum of 50 articles to submit to Facebook for approval into the Facebook Instant Articles program.
  • Facebook Business Manager if you need to contact support for Facebook Instant Articles.

This is why it’s important to start preparing now. If you don’t have 50 articles yet, I don’t suggest rushing to get a large amount of content out there that isn’t quality just so you can use the new Facebook feature. But it’s something good to know if you only have five posts on your blog and only publish once a week.

#2: Check Out Facebook Instant Articles From Beta Publishers

Certain publishers are already publishing Facebook instant articles. Check out what they have to offer to gain insight into whether you want to get your content into the same format.

According to the official Facebook Instant Articles page, the following publishers are already using the feature.

beta publishers for facebook articles

Publishers with access to Facebook Instant Articles.

I’ve found that most of these publishers use Facebook Instant Articles for some, but not all, articles. As shown in the video earlier, there’s a distinct difference between Facebook instant articles and the articles on publishers’ websites. You’ll just need the Facebook app for iPhone or Android to see them.

Browse the articles from these publishers to get a good idea of whether Facebook Instant Articles is a good fit for your content. For example, if you publish 5,000-word blog posts that are filled with complex tables, charts, and other content that is best suited for desktop display, Facebook Instant Articles may not be a good fit for your content.

#3: Sign Up for Facebook Instant Articles

If you’re sure that Facebook Instant Articles is right for your content, sign up for more information. After you sign up, you’ll receive an email that links you to the Facebook developer’s guide for Facebook Instant Articles and the closed Facebook group for media publishers.

#4: Consider PageFrog if You Use WordPress

If you already have all of the things mentioned in step #1 and publish your content on a self-hosted WordPress website, you can prepare your content now with the PageFrog plugin. It has the added benefit of optimizing your content for Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which is similar to Facebook Instant Articles but for Google mobile-search users.

Change WordPress Settings Before Installing the Plugin

While experimenting with this plugin, I found that it’s crucial to make the following changes under Settings > Reading for your WordPress website before installing the plugin.

pagefrog plugin wordpress reading settings

Change these WordPress Reading Settings prior to installing the PageFrog plugin.

Note that doing so might affect how many posts are displayed on your homepage and archive pages. But it’s currently the only way to get 50 items in the Facebook Instant Archives RSS feed that you’ll need to submit for approval to the program. This might change as the plugin is updated in the future.

When you’re ready, go to your Plugins menu and search the plugins directory for “PageFrog” to find the plugin. Once installed, you’ll find the settings for the plugin in your Admin menu.

pagefrog plugin settings

Find your PageFrog plugin settings in the WordPress Admin menu.

Click on Setup to get the following guides for Facebook Instant Articles and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages.

pagefrog settings menu

The initial PageFrog setup screen for Facebook Instant Articles.

When you click Begin Setup for Facebook Instant Articles, it will recommend that you sign up for access (as suggested in step #2). It will then show you where to go to access Facebook Instant Articles when the feature is released. Most importantly, you’ll get an RSS feed that’s optimized for Facebook Instant Articles and find out where to submit it for review.

rss feed for instant articles

The RSS feed generated by PageFrog to use for Facebook Instant Articles and where to place it.

From here, you can do the following:

  • Click on Styling in the plugin menu to learn how to style your Facebook instant articles using Facebook Instant Articles Publishing Tools (once released).
  • Click on Analytics to connect web analytics, including Google Analytics, Chartbeat, Parsely, and other providers’ tracking codes. (This is optional.)
  • Click on Ads to add your Audience Network ID to monetize your Facebook instant articles with Facebook ads. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to apply. (This is optional.)
  • Click on Settings to enable Facebook Instant Articles for your old posts.

Once you’re finished setting up Facebook Instant Articles, you should also set up Google Accelerated Mobile Pages. Optimizing your content for Google AMP can help you reach the top of search results for mobile users.

#5: Know Your Options if You Don’t Use WordPress

If you don’t use WordPress (the self-hosted version that allows you to install plugins), your options will depend on the platform on which you publish content.

If you use a platform where you have no control over coding, such as a hosted network like Medium, Tumblr, or WordPress.com, you’ll have to wait to see whether the platform decides to optimize for Facebook Instant Articles.

If you use a platform that allows you to install extensions (similar to WordPress plugins) like Joomla or Drupal, you’ll have to wait to see whether they’ll develop extensions or support for Facebook Instant Articles.

If you use a platform where you can modify the coding of your framework or template, you may want to see if you or your web developer is able to add the markup for Facebook Instant Articles.

code mark up for instant articles

Sample Facebook Instant Articles HTML5 markup.

Or you may want to decide whether using Facebook Instant Articles is worth moving your content over to a platform that’s certain to offer easy-to-use support like WordPress and its official and third-party plugins.

#6: Prepare to Optimize Your Website’s Overall Mobile Experience

Another thing to take into consideration with Facebook Instant Articles is your overall mobile strategy. Even if you don’t optimize your content for Facebook Instant Articles, publishers that link to your website might.

This means that more people will be clicking through to your website with expectations of a superior mobile experience. If your website is not currently providing that kind of mobile experience, you should be looking into ways to do so.

In Conclusion

As you can see, Facebook Instant Articles requires a lot of preparation work for publishers that want to be ready for the new feature when it becomes available, and businesses that want their website to be optimized for Facebook app users who click through to their websites from Facebook instant article mentions.

What do you think? How do you plan to prepare for Facebook Instant Articles? Let us know in the comments below!

facebook instant articles how to prepare

Tips on Facebook Instant Articles and what marketers and publishers need to do to get ready.

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  • samad nexus

    Ohh! tht’s very clever step by the facebook. I think it’s more suitable if you optimize your website mobile friendly rather than doing a lot of changing for latest update of facebook.

  • Milita Sen

    Thanks Krishti, for nice sharing. Very informative.

  • Thanks for sharing a very latest update and new thing with us. I guess #6 is gonna be play an important role here.

  • Thanks Samad! 🙂

  • You’re welcome Milita! 🙂

  • That’s what I’m thinking too Amit! 🙂

  • Awesome. Another great article. Thanks Kristi 🙂

  • Jeremy

    Thanks for this article Kristi. Do you know how Instant Articles affects how Google Analytics reads traffic?

  • LouiseCrooks

    How will it benefit us aside from quick downloading? I’m thinking that if it doesn’t take folks to our websites then we’re missing out on traffic there. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

  • I know that Facebook is going to let you connect Google Analytics to get insights into Instant Articles readership, but at the same time, people who read your Instant Articles will not be going to your website, so it won’t count as referral traffic. So that part remains to be seen.

  • Jaimee Thirion-Bingle

    How does the Facebook algorithm come into play? Will you get better reach on your articles vs linking to your website/blog?

  • deb1221

    Thanks for this info, Kristi!

  • You would be missing out on the referral traffic, yes. The goal from Facebook’s standpoint is provide a better experience for their users in delivering content to them faster. For publishers, it’s about getting people to their content faster so they consume it and don’t leave because of slow load times.

    But if you have any other goals, such as getting someone to opt-in to an email list, submit a quote request, or make a purchase, that’s when things get tricky, because people will likely start to expect the same speed / performance on your website as they get with the Instant Articles.

  • You’re welcome Deb!

  • According to the support documents, Facebook doesn’t plan to give any preference to Instant Article publishers over others. That’s their current stance at least. 🙂

  • drburt

    Installed over a week ago for FB and AMP for WP. Hope to see a difference in ranking after April12th

  • LouiseCrooks

    Thank you for that insightful answer Kristi. It was as I suspected. I guess its valuable if you want to build value, credibility and branding. And perhaps do a mix of the instant publishing as well as direct to site to get benefits of both.

  • My head spins with all the changes in social media…lol This will be a new thing to master. Thanks for the article Kristi.

  • Its not still clear what should be done for exact instant article for Facebook. May b it will be after april.

  • Filip Młyński

    Kristi, thanks for your sharing. The question I have is whether FB allows to display the same article both ways: for browser/desktop users via external link driving into website and for FB app users via FIA? Does that work this way? I haven’t found that in your article, maybe I missed something. Cheers

  • Shirley Pittenger

    I really appreciate your insight Mark! I totally agree with you on the future of content marketing. Content Shock is real and marketers must adapt and adjust to stay competitive.

  • THANK YOU as always. I never really have time to research anymore so these articles are a huge help!

  • I didn’t even heard about it, and, by what I read in this article, sound very interesting. I’m going to look in it more and see what I can do about it and how can I use it in my advantage.

  • I agree Samad. To me, it’s just one more way for FB to keep you on their site sounds like to me unless the user actually clicks through to your site. Not a fan of FB.

  • samad nexus

    welcome

  • samad nexus

    humm! yeah thats great

  • Matheo Gallant

    Very informative. I am also using Facebook advertisement to introduce my blog , this is actuallly what I need. Thank you

  • As a daily user browsing articles through mobile, Facebook Instant articles or AMP is a dream come true with articles loading instantly. But, for publishers [specially small ones] who are not quite happy with this new FB update, this is a big problem. As Kristi said, traffic through instant articles won’t count as referral traffic and users won’t be visiting your websites, it is easy to speculate the future of content distribution through Facebook. Let’s see, how this will be when Facebook opens the update to all publishers.

  • Tim Chard

    Assuming this will also develop into a new custom audience of “Instant Articles visitors”?

  • I would guess it counts as a visitor to a specific page, potentially?

  • Thanks for the detailed explanation and installation checklist Kristi. I just read Mark Schaefer’s post too. Together they give a good overview of the pros and cons.

  • Casey Stevens

    Hey Kristi! Great article. I had our web team install the plugin however, they informed me that playing with the settings to get the articles in the RSS feed would break the site. You said that there might be other options in the next coming weeks, have you heard of any? Please let me know! Thanks again for this information.

  • It’s LIVE now however this 50 posts is a BAD idea for wordpress users.

  • So far, that’s the only way I’ve gotten that plugin to work. The official Facebook plugin feed doesn’t work with my site either. Still testing options.

  • So far, that’s the only way I’ve gotten that plugin to work. The official Facebook plugin feed doesn’t work with my site either. Still testing other options.

  • ok….. hopefully things will improve

  • Hopefully. From what I’ve seen, if you submit a feed with only 10 items, Publishing Tools for Instant Articles will only pick up 10 items. And to get into the program, you have to submit 50. So far, I’ve only gotten that to work by doing the 50 post thing. Fortunately, I use StudioPress themes, and the number of posts displayed on homepages and archive pages is controlled by the theme, not the Reading settings. That’s not the case for others though. I posted this issue to one of the plugin support, and they never replied. I also tried just increasing the syndication count to 50, but that didn’t work either.

  • Of course, it might be a change that you only need to make for the 24 – 48 hours while they review your content. Once you’re approved, you can go back to normal.

  • LisaDJenkins

    Thank you, Rajkumar. We appreciate the heads up and have edited the original link to point to the new sign up page.

  • Hi Krisit – any updates? I noticed that the setup section in our Facebook Page now says only 10 articles are needed to submit for approval. Also, I can’t find where to connect my Google Analytics. Your post says “click on Analytics” but I don’t see that anywhere. Thanks!

  • I’m also confused about the “create 10 articles for submission for review step.” We have way more than that on our site already. Does this mean we have to wait until we’ve published at least ten NEW articles since activating Instant Articles?

  • As for the articles, if you are using RSS, it’s just going to pull your latest 10 articles. If you don’t get approved the first time, you will have to wait until you have 10 new articles.

    As for analytics, you have to put your analytics code in a certain area for FIA to pick it up and use it, which is described in the developer docs. https://developers.facebook.com/docs/instant-articles/reference/analytics

  • Thanks!

  • FYI to SME – this old post is still being shared out on social media. That’s how I came to it today!