What are they and what do they mean for your website?
Facebook’s Instant Articles are an interesting prospect for both website users and website owners. They’re a streamlined and efficient way (in theory) to get mobile device users to your content quickly, efficiently and without breaking the flow of the users journey. They do this by only serving up a very basic version of your page and fitting in into a Facebook article template of sorts. They promise to load your content ‘up to 10x faster than the average mobile website’. Great, right?
Kinda. As you’d expect there’s a bit of trade off for all that goodness. To make things easier for those wanting to create Instant Articles, Facebook have kept things simple with what you’re allowed to do. For instance, don’t expect a bevy of other platforms to be available to share your Instant Articles. This means that users viewing your content via Instant Articles will only be able to share it on Facebook (or Facebook affiliates).
But everyone loves using Facebook.
It’s pretty popular, but it’s not the be all and end all. People use different social media platforms in different ways. For example, I primarily use Facebook for friends, family and my geek-related interests and opt for twitter when sharing any web development content.
So why is that a bad thing?
Maybe it’s not a bad thing. Maybe it’s just a ‘thing’. It’s potentially a win-win if you’re a content-driven business or blogger but if you’re trying to herd users onto a web site to sell a product or a service, this probably isn’t going to do that. Facebook are also aware of this, they know people are mostly interacting with content and not products on their platform, their goal here is to keep as much of the traffic on Facebook as they can. Instant Articles also opens up new ad serving real estate too, which will ease some content creators fear who are currently generate revenue from ads on their website.
Totally. I feel like this is Facebook’s biggest attempt at snatching more ‘internet’ for a while now. Similar in a way to how YouTube has monopolised the majority of video content, Facebook could be angling for a similar approach to bloggers, journalists, reviewers and other similar.
I’m looking forward to getting some hands on experience with this publishing tool; I know it will be useful when the situation is right. For a while it’s going to be an important question for clients and publisher to answer; “do I want to give up some of my traffic to Facebook for a more streamlined user experience?”.
Only time will tell.