Could Facebook Instant Articles neuter your content marketing?
Facebook Instant Articles (FBIA) is a new mobile format developed by Facebook and made available to everyone last week. It allows your readers on Facebook to access your content instantly without leaving Facebook, using the Facebook mobile app.
It’s quicker and more mobile friendly than linking to a website and Facebook believe if readers can access your content faster they’ll be more likely to consume it rather than leave because of slow load times.
Together with the latest Google algorithm update in May, it could be seen as another indication of how important mobile access to the internet has become, but as I’ll address later, it could also lead to a change in how and where content marketing works.
Is Facebook Instant Articles for You?
Some large publishers are already publishing Facebook Instant Articles, including Buzzfeed, The New York Times, National Geographic, the Guardian, and NBC News. Use the Facebook app for iPhone or Android to take a look at what they are publishing. Get an idea of the type of material they are using with FBIA and whether your content will work in the same format. If your content is best accessed via a desktop monitor then FBIA may not be for you.
What You Need for Facebook Instant Articles
If you decide you could use Facebook Instant Articles there are some things you should have in place first.
- A Facebook Page
- The Facebook Pages app to preview your instant articles on your smartphone.
- If you want to automate the publishing of your content to FBIA you’ll need an RSS feed that displays the full content of your articles.
- If you have a self-hosted WordPress site you can use an official plugin or the PageFrog plugin to publish your content directly from WordPress to Facebook Instant Articles.
- You’ll need 10 articles to submit to Facebook for approval before publication can begin.
If you don’t have 10 articles resist the temptation to quickly put some together. If you’re going to use Facebook to spread your content you’ll want it to be good quality material.
How FBIA could neuter your content marketing
The basic idea of inbound content marketing is that it gets the attention of your prospects, and draws readers to your website or squeeze page. As a massive source of traffic Facebook has played an important role in this process for many online.
However Instant Articles cuts this flow of traffic and keeps it on Facebook. There are no links to websites, sales pages or squeeze pages.
This is a coming trend. Google and Twitter have recently launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), and LinkedIn is also working on a version of mobile friendly content that will keep readers on their site.
It seems that the big platforms are going to become dead ends. Our ability to convert readers to customers using content is going to be reduced.
At the moment I think it’s too soon to see what we can do about this. There may be an opportunity within the process that hasn’t yet revealed itself, or perhaps someone will come up with or further develop a platform that will be more content marketing friendly.
As always the internet keeps us on our toes.