Instantly Understand Facebook Instant Articles

Dave Tate

Category: Development

04.12.2016

Today, Facebook opened to the public a product called Instant Articles. You’ve probably already seen Instant Articles on Facebook from select publishers with early access. Instant Article content is distinguished by a small lightning bolt emblem.

Facebook Instant Articles in Five Sentences

If you are a publisher of stories, news articles, or blog posts, you might want to publish using Facebook Instant Articles. The product allows you to use the Facebook mobile application as the native environment from which your content is consumed. The special publishing specifications ensure that your content is delivered as much as “10x faster.” For your consumer, your content loads up almost “instantly,” compared to the average eight-second page load of externally hosted content linked from Facebook. You must initially submit 50 articles for review by Facebook before you can start publishing.

At Stake

Some publishers are cautiously approaching the offer to “give us your content and let us run it on our app.” However, many major publishers are already onboard, and for now, it is promised to be a first rate publishing platform, and nothing more nefarious.

Facebook guarantees publishers keep 100% of ad revenue for ads sold by the publisher. If the ads are sold by Facebook, Facebook earns a 30% cut.

How to Start Publishing

From the rise of Medium to the new wave of speed-focused platforms like Instant Articles, Apple News and Google AMP, the growing landscape might be daunting. Not to fear! You don’t need to hire more editors to start publishing Facebook Instant Articles. You can publish Instant Articles using your current Content Management System.

WORDPRESS

If you use WordPress, Facebook has collaborated with Automattic to offer a plugin to make integration as painless as possible.  The Instant Articles plugin is available now from WordPress.org. The plugin code is open source and can be found on GitHub. To contribute to the codebase, use a Github Pull Request. Submit bug fixes as Github Issues.

DRUPAL

Using Drupal? Already covered there too: Drupal 7 Facebook Instant Articles module. At time of writing, there isn’t a Drupal 8 release on Drupal.org, but there is a D8 branch in the works on GitHub.

OTHER

For integration with other systems, check out Facebook’s Instant Articles API. If APIs just aren’t your thing, you can alternatively publish Instant Articles using your website’s RSS feed. Just follow the instructions for the necessary RSS configurations.

REQUIRED ARTICLE REVIEW

It is critical to note that Facebook requires a minimum of 50 articles to be approved before you can start publishing. It is a one-time deal. After you’re approved, you won’t have to submit for review again. This process can be done using the administrative controls of your Facebook Page, in the new Instant Articles section.

For more information about Instant Articles, check out Facebook’s official marketing spiel here.

Post Scriptum: The Zap Emblem

I could not find Facebook’s official design assets for the little bolt / zapper icon thingy (<– design jargon). So, I made one. It looks pretty close. Feel free to grab it here [SVG | PNG | PSD]. Better, leave a comment if you can point the way to the proper assets.

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