Facebook’s announcement that they’ll be rolling out Instant Articles to publishers of any size has promoted a wave of questions and a conversation that’s left us pretty excited for the April 12th date. Already being used by 18 major publishers, it’s time for the public to take advantage of the bangin’ technology.

If you haven’t heard of Facebook Instant Articles yet… well, you’ll be excited too – I guarantee it.

What Are Facebook Instant Articles?

Facebook Instant Articles are built to be 10 times faster than the standard, as the technology used is the exact same that helps users display photos and videos quickly via the Facebook app. Available both on iPhone and Android, articles will download instantly and videos will play automatically when they enter the screen.

Photo cred: https://vip.wordpress.com/blog/

The technology has best been described as one that “brings your stories to life.” An interactive experience, Instant Articles allow the reader to zoom in to an article’s high-resolution photographs or simply tilt their phone to scroll from one side of the zoomed-in photograph to another.

Publishers can opt to push out long, informative articles, or use Instant Articles to publish day-to-day news. Using standard HTML and RSS feeds, Instant Articles can be integrated flawlessly with a publisher’s current workflow, making it as convenient as it is interactive.

Sell Ads In Instant Articles

There are two ways for publishers to take advantage of Instant Articles in order to sell ads – use the Facebook Audience Network, or sell ads directly in an article.

[More on video ads for Instant Articles below]

Publishers Already Using Instant Articles

  • The New York Times
  • National Geographic
  • BuzzFeed
  • NBC News
  • The Atlantic
  • The Guardian
  • BBC News
  • MTV
  • Cosmopolitan
  • The Huffington Post
  • The Washington Post
Photo cred: https://instantarticles.fb.com/

Video Ads for Instant Articles

Facebook also just announced that they’ll allow publishers to place video ads, in addition to the regular static ads already offered, in the content they post via Instant Articles. Currently, for every 350 words of content, Facebook allows publishers to include one ad. With this new video announcement, publishers will be able to post one additional ad at the bottom of their Instant Articles- reportedly a feature that can boost ad impressions by 20% or more.

In our conversations with publishers, these changes popped up as the biggest steps we could take to make the biggest impact. We care about user experience first and foremost, but we know this doesn’t work if publishers can’t monetize their content successfully.” – Josh Roberts, Instant Articles product manager at Facebook.

Each video will start playing automatically, as soon as it enters a reader’s screen, although the autoplay feature requires that all videos start with the sound turned off.


How to Publish Instant Articles

Upon the April 12th roll out date, Facebook will provide publishers with a plugin (detailed in the section below) you’ll download to your WordPress website, making it possible to implement Instant Articles. After proper implementation, you’ll want to create an Instant Article version of each post you share with your readers every time a new article URL is published to your website.

NOTE: Readers must have Instant Articles enabled on their devices to be able to see your story as an Instant Article.

It’s important to note that Instant Articles aren’t created automatically every time a new post is created on your Facebook Page. They’re added to a library of Instant Articles that’ll be associated with your business Page. To create an Instant Article you must:

  1. Enable automated publishing of Instant Articles via RSS or API
  2. Compose a new post
  3. Publish it to your Page
  4. Readers will then be rendered the Instant Article version of your article each time it’s clicked

Facebook has provided detailed guides according to your preferred method of delivery:

Download the Free WordPress Plugin

In order for Facebook to make Instant Articles a success, they partnered with Automatic- the parent company of WordPress.com VIP- in order to build the plugin. It is designed to simplify the process of generating and publishing Facebook Instant Articles from WordPress.

The plugin has been beta tested by a small number of publishers and boasts a built-in suite of interactive tools designed to help stories come to life via a reader’s mobile device.

See the difference:

Zap2it without Instant Articles (left) and with Instant Articles (right)

Most important facts about the plugin:

  1. It’s open source, so if you have feedback you can send it as an Issue on GitHub.
  2. Publishers with a WordPress template can activate the plugin automatically to start publishing Instant Articles.
  3. Facebook will provide feedback for you (through its debugging tools) when you’ve submitted your feed for review.
  4. Customization is also available for people that want the plugin to support more elements.
  5. Your branding is completely taken care of, due to Facebook’s Style Editor which gives you the option to upload your logo, select brand colors, and the appropriate font. For full details, view Facebook’s Design Guide.

To learn more about Facebook Instant Articles, visit instantarticles.fb.com and vip.wordpress.com/blog.

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Josh Roberts quote from the Wall Street Journal.

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