You may have heard a lot about Facebook’s new Instant Articles lately, but what are they and how will they impact your Facebook user experience? Here’s what you need to know.
The Instant Article Gist
Instant articles are articles that load much faster than older articles through Facebook’s flagship app. So, instead of waiting a few minutes to read an article that you scroll past on your Facebook app, you will be able to see that article in just a few seconds. This means that you’ll be seeing a lot more Facebook articles loading a lot faster into your newsfeed. It also means that publishers will be scrambling to make sure that the articles loading are of the best possible quality.
This also means that publishers using Facebook (and you can’t afford not to use Facebook if you are a publisher) will be more dependant on the social network. What’s wrong with that? Publishers have no control over Facebook and what the company does. So, even though a publisher may post an article or two to be sent out through Facebook, there’s no real control over what Facebook does with that article. This is something to consider if you are a publisher.
Where to View
Facebook is only making Instant Articles available through the company’s iOS app. Facebook has stated that an Android version of the Instant Article feed will be available shortly, but there’s no set date quite yet. Further, only a few publishers have access to the Instant Article update as of the time of this writing. Those publishers are The Atlantic, The Guardian, NBC News, National Geographic, BBC News, and few news publishers based in Germany.
If you’re viewing your Facebook feed, you won’t see much difference between the articles that you have been seeing and those that are part of the Instant Article update. But, Facebook is making Instant Articles stand out by putting covers on those articles and letting video play instantly. When you do tap on one of those articles, the load time should be a matter of seconds.
The new Instant Article format that Facebook has created really does favor publishers. In addition to loading articles faster, publishers that take part in the Instant Articles will get a logo placed at the top of the article, and will also get an instant follow button that people can tap to follow more stories from that publisher. The option to include an author name and photo will also be available. In short, this changes the game for publisher that use Facebook, and it’s going to be very hard not to use Facebook in the near future.
If you are a publisher, jumping on the Instant Article bandwagon isn’t a bad thing for your readership. If you just like to read articles through Facebook, you’ll like the fact that most articles put out by major publishers will load faster. To take part in this new feature, publishers must contact Facebook and work with the company to produce Instant Articles.