How Facebook Instant Articles Can Give Your Brand a Boost
You’ve no doubt heard the news. Facebook Instant Articles is now available to all publishers, which means that if you own a Facebook page, you can now publish articles directly onto the social media platform, rather than linking to your blog.
As Jay Berkowitz, CEO of Ten Golden Rules states, “The two most significant things I see about Facebook Instant Articles are: 1) as a marketer, this is a tremendous platform for us to publish content and display thought leadership, and like LinkedIn articles, we have a chance to stand out if we’re one of the first to do this online, and 2) from a business perspective, this is another indication that Facebook is developing products to keep people on Facebook. They would rather you get the news inside their platform than click outside.
What does this mean for marketers? Aside from being yet another sign that Facebook is planning to completely take over the internet, the ability to use Instant Articles has the potential to give your brand a serious social media boost. In this article, we will explore how.
Marketers have been decrying the diminished reach of their Facebook posts for years now. And while it’s true that organic reach for posts has diminished with time, one notable exception to the rule has been video that is directly uploaded to Facebook. The social media giant self-reports that over eight billion videos are viewed on its platform every day, a significant chunk of which comes from business pages.
The reason for this is simple. Facebook doesn’t want its visitors to leave. As a result, content that is native to Facebook (such as videos and photos that are uploaded directly to the social media platform) will receive significantly higher organic promotion than content that would lead the user to another site (such as a YouTube video).
The implications are that a similar effect is taking place with Instant Articles. Business Insider reports that many companies that have implemented Instant Articles have subsequently seen a bump in the number of shares and unique viewers for their article posts. For example, Gawker’s number of unique viewers jumped from four million to nearly 4.7 million, while LittleThings reported a 15 percent increase in shares.
A More Engaged Audience
While there is little doubt that Facebook simply wants to keep users from leaving its platform for any reason, Instant Articles’ mobile savvy apparently has another effect: improved overall engagement. Though numbers that are self-reported by Facebook should always be taken with a grain of salt, the Facebook Instant Articles overview page proclaims that readers of Instant Articles are “70 percent less likely to abandon the article.”
What this means, in a nutshell, is that the improved mobile experience offered by Instant Articles yields a more engaged audience. After all, there is a significant difference between twenty readers who bail out after only two paragraphs and twenty who read your entire post. This increased readability means more time that users are being exposed to your messages, making it much more likely that your content will ultimately lead to a sale, share or other desired marketing outcome.
Best of all, Facebook provides the data that will help you learn just how effective your articles are at connecting with your audience, allowing you to adapt and streamline your content as necessary to further increase engagement.
Not Just For News
Of course, the first concern that many marketers have is how Facebook plans to regulate the content that is shared via Instant Articles. While publishers still need to undergo an approval process prior to gaining permission to publish, publishers of any size can get approval to use the platform after creating and submitting 10 articles for review by Facebook’s team. That may seem like a tall order, but this merely goes to show that Facebook isn’t messing around with this endeavor — they’re looking for quality.
As always, content marketing is the name of the game. If you’re planning on using Instant Articles to further develop your brand image, shamelessly promotional content isn’t going to cut it. Instant Articles allows publishers to sell ad space for that (which also serves as an excellent method of monetizing your content).
This doesn’t mean that your posts need to look like something out of the Washington Post. Rather, the same rules that apply to typical content marketing efforts are just as strongly in effect here. Only produce content that genuinely provides value to your target audience, such as useful tutorials, relevant news or even a funny list related to your industry.
It doesn’t matter if your content is evergreen or timely, just be sure that it adheres to sound content marketing principles. And while you may not be able to directly sell your products or services with your articles, the dramatically improved reach and engagement that Instant Articles provides more than makes up for it.
While only time will tell if marketers are able to effectively tap into Facebook Instant Articles, the potential is clear. For those looking to expand their reach and increase their engagement on Facebook, Instant Articles is poised to become an integral part of a successful social media effort.