Has Instant Articles Made Facebook Too Powerful?

Over the last few years, nay-sayers have gleefully proclaimed that Facebook is dead.

However, the purchase of WhatsApp, the near purchase of Snapchat, and the new reaction feature shows that they still have their head in the game.

Where am I going with this ass kissing?

A few days ago, FB opened up their Instant Articles to everyone. Instant Articles are ‘a new way for any publisher to create fast, interactive articles on Facebook.’ It’s a huge finger to everybody that thought FB had started losing its edge.

Basically, when you click on the URL of an Instant Article, you won’t be directed to a secondary site. Instead, the article will open directly on your news feed- mind blown!


Instant Articles are a godsend for FB users who want speedy mobile performance (in case you missed it, Instant Articles work only on mobile devices). With an overwhelming number of people accessing the internet via mobile devices, there’s a huge market for this new feature. Yes Mark Zuckerburg, I am humbled by your genius.

Should Content Creators Sign Up for Instant Articles?

Hell yes!

We’ve already established that Instant Articles offer unmatched convenience to readers, meaning that content creators (bloggers, news agencies, publishing houses) should give it a shot. 

So what’s the benefit to the average content creator? SPEED (not the movie or the drug.)

Here are some stats provided by FB:

-Instant Articles are 10x faster than standard mobile web articles
-20% more Instant Articles read on average
-Readers are 70% less likely to abandon the article
-Instant Articles are 30% more likely to be shared than mobile web articles on average

Readers no longer have to wait for my slow-ass website to open (it’s actually not slow). As a content creator, I will benefit from increased engagement, increased reach, and increased traffic- as I can now reach people suffering from slow internet speeds.

The easy to use Instant Articles also enhances user experience by guaranteeing immersive reading. As a content creator I get to use visual tools like videos, photos, audio captions, interactive maps, and brand imaging to ensure that my reader is wrapped up in my story.


Like a puppet master I can bring inanimate objects to life, causing my audience to consume my stories with a voracious appetite (I didn’t even need a thesaurus for that one.) This is pretty amazing for creative’s who love weaving elaborate stories.

Additionally, I can use analytics to track and measure engagement and traffic, which is crucial for any brand that wants to track conversions and other boring (but necessary) data.

As it stands, Instant Articles seems like a win for content creators and content consumers alike.

 

Does FB Have Too Much Power?

A year ago we were uploading YouTube videos to FB before sharing them, and now we can upload our own videos directly to FB and have them automatically play on our news feeds.

The fact that articles will now be displayed on FB instead of third-party sites makes a lot of sense; FB is taking a ‘native’ approach to all of its content.

However, there’s some fear that accompanies this new move by FB. 

Once content creators start relying on Instant Articles to generate interest in their work, FB has the upper hand. We’ve already seen them reduce the organic reach of FB Pages and essentially punish those who refuse to use ads to promote their content.

So, what happens in a year’s time? Will I be pushed to buy ad space in order for my Instant Articles to appear on my reader’s news feeds? Maybe I’m being pessimistic, but the last time I purchased an ad FB made it difficult for me to get my content out without putting in more money. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t put in more money for FB ads because:

1. I have some frugal tendencies and
2. I dislike the subtle blackmailing that resembles an old mafia movie.

Additionally, there’s concern about FB becoming the source of all news and content.

With FB becoming the most preferred platform for sharing videos and now content, it will soon become the number 1 place for its 1.5 billion+ readers to get their information.

When you have only one news source, you have to wonder whether what you’re reading and watching is being filtered. Of course, there’s offensive material and pure garbage that none of us wants to see, but what about opposing views and divisive topics? Will FB take them down? They have the power to do so. 

 

Final Verdict

So, will I still use Instant Articles? The simple answer is yes.

However, I won’t build my blog on the foundation of FB. I won’t be dependent on Instant Articles to drive traffic and engagement to my content; instead I’ll seek out several platforms and exploit each one fully.

I urge you to do the same. Never rely on just one source of traffic. That source can quickly dry up leaving you in a precarious position.

At the same time, you have nothing to lose by using Instant Articles to draw more attention to your content. Just don’t be dependent! 

If you found this interesting, remember to share it with your friends and colleagues. Also drop me a comment telling me what you think of Instant Articles. Are they the next big thing? Will you take advantage of them? Are you pessimistic like I am? Do you think I stated an opposing view just to cause drama and go viral? (Fingers crossed on the last one). Either way, I’d love to hear your own opinion. 

Thanks for stopping by this week, and I hope to see you back next Monday!

 

P.S. If you like the gifs, here’s the new plugin I’m using to integrate media as I write.

14 Comments

  1. Hi Davina,
    Thanks for the wonderful article. Personally I do not think instant articles will make facebook more powerful and here are my reasons why,
    1. People are likely to start using both facebook and other platforms like linkedin and many other publishing platforms,
    2. content creators prefer freedom to share content in different ways, many may not fall for the organic content of facebook due to limited flexibility of sharing.
    3. Facebook has become too commercial of recent that every single innovation they bring on board is shortly made a service that is paid for.
    nevertheless the instant articles are a good thing but as to wether they will make facebook more powerful its the time that will tell.

    Like

  2. Hi Davina,
    I share your suspicions of Instant Articles. It may make reaching a larger audience possible, but that’s not as useful if it’s harder to get people to your website or squeeze page.

    I can also see it developing in the same way as the timeline: so much content that Facebook starts limiting exposure until a paid service is the only way to reach a large fraction of your potential readers.

    Like

  3. Sounds like we’ll soon be living our lives on Facebook….not that we do already lol. It is rather scary how things are progressing especially since the business is going to Facebook not webmasters, it’s trickier to get people over to your own properties nowadays!

    Like

    1. I agree Ash. Facebook has created a feature that benefits them, and then marketed it as something for publishers. Hopefully, we can figure out how to get some good results out of it…

      Like

  4. Great article Davina, like others i share your suspisions, but i also think it’s a great innovation, I tried to set up Instant Articles through my word press site but discovered it requires PHP 5.4 and my version is slightly older, but talking to my host even as we speak. But will definitely use, I also love the live streaming that they have brought online

    Like

    1. Thanks Mike. I haven’t started the process yet, but I hope it is smooth. I wish you the best on your side.

      And FB’s innovation is definitely impressive, I’m just worried about their intentions.

      Like

  5. Hi Davina, Thanks for this article. Guess it’s intended that way to make users relying on their platform. I am hesitated to add the html onto my site at this moment. But then, it is another source of traffic. So it is a wait and see for me now. Watch the trend and see how it works out before taking the plunge. Having said that, it is still worth doing to get that extra traffic.

    Like

    1. I agree Sandy, FB is working to make us dependent on their platform. I’m also looking forward to seeing the results of Instant Articles for publishers. Hopefully, it can be a viable source of good traffic.

      Like

  6. Great! I have not yet tried this Instant Article thingy in Facebook. Actually, I do not know that it exist and because of this article that you have presented. I will try and check it out.I think it is intended for the reason that users relying are going to rely on their platform.

    Like

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