Understanding Instant Articles, A New Way of Publishing

It is time to embrace Facebook's native content, or as Facebook terms it, Instant Articles. Stories in the new format open instantly, sans the 8-second load time. This is a far cry from the links that take users to content that is outside of Facebook.

Three Major Differences Compared to Standard Article Format

Instant Articles makes for a new way of publishing. The app leverages the HTML5 markup format optimized for viewing things on mobile phones, leading to three major differences when compared to the standard article format:

  1. faster loading of content
  2. rendering different from the original source
  3. content consumption within the Facebook app

Why Facebook Brought in Instant Articles

Facebook has introduced Instant Articles in view of the increasing time people spend on it. The Instant Articles app would enable mobile users to view pages with the correct markup in much less time. As the articles upload faster, users are likely to visit more links.

The challenge before Facebook was to find a way to display articles and pages while bringing down the time required for displaying some specific content. They did this by displaying the content through the Facebook app. The end result of it all is that you end up spending more time on Facebook without even realizing it.

How Instant Articles is Different From Regular Content

The stories published by media companies look the same on mobile phones, meaning the way they originally were when users stumbled across them in Facebook News Feed. However, the difference is visible when the link is followed.

As chrome is absent, there is no branding for the media company responsible for the story, or for Facebook for that matter. Navigation to related content is missing. However, there is a prompt to follow them on Facebook.

A persistent 'share' button is present at the top of an Instant Article. In spite of the post being present on the Facebook mobile app, the button enables users to share the external link.

Readers would find click-to-expand images, motion graphics and GIFs. The display is quite attractive and they are likely to appreciate it.

To get back where they had left off in News Feed, users need to swipe right on an Instant Article. When the links are clicked on, the difference between Instant Articles and regular content is visible. Articles that are not on Instant Articles app load slowly, have different share buttons and feature site navigation. The media partners of Facebook have been allowed to advertise within their own stories.

A Step Towards Making Facebook a News Destination

The Instant Articles app is a major step by Facebook towards its goal of becoming a news destination. It can now position itself as a portal of sorts, where users can find their favorite content. Accessing external content is now a seamless experience on Facebook and one can view it without leaving the confines of this social media site.

Regarding Instant Articles a turning point in the world of digital publishing won't be an exaggeration. Although benefitting from Facebook Instant Articles will require a lot of preparation for publishers, it will be worth it. Instant Articles is set to become an integral part of digital marketing for companies and can enable them to reach out to more audiences.