Welcome back to Social Strategy, our ongoing series on how to create a great social media presence. Every part of this series thus far has revolved around the different things you can do to drive results on Twitter, but Twitter is by no means the only platform out there. Facebook is a network that needs no introduction – since its creation in 2004, it has been the topic of several books and an Oscar-winning movie. As of December 2015, the site boasted 1.04 billion daily active users – that's just under three times the population of Canada and the United States combined. Even though many fear the platform is starting to dwindle, a Facebook presence is still incredibly important to businesses.
One thing that Facebook has emphasized is the importance of its ecosystem; users visit the site for so much more than the social functions that it was originally created for. In fact, 30 percent of American adults get their news on Facebook, which, when you consider that every clicked link takes a user off the site, results in a lot of unnecessary navigation. Originally announced in 2013, Facebook opened up their on-site publishing platform, Instant Articles, to all users during their F8 Conference on April 12th.
Instant Articles is the next evolution of news on Facebook, and they're a great way to get your content in front of people who may not want to navigate off-site. Instant Articles allows you to turn your existing blog or news content into a feature-rich page on the Facebook platform, which supports interactive, picture, and video content. You even have the ability to add email signup forms to articles so as to extend the conversation with your audience.
This all sounds pretty spiffy, but how does someone get set up? Simply:
Browse over to the Instant Articles sub-site.
Verify which page you'd like to add the functionality to.
Choose a URL where your articles will live (Instant Articles will not create stand-alone Facebook pages for your content, which is a design decision meant to remedy load times for people with slower connections). You'll need to add some metadata to your website's header section so that Facebook can pull content directly from your site.
Create your articles. Articles can be pushed to Facebook from a blogging platform like WordPress, a content management system, or via an API connection. This is extremely convenient in that you won't need to post every article to the platform individually. You have the ability to share whichever posts from your site that you'd like.
Customize the fonts and colors that will appear as part of your article. There is currently a limited font selection, but as the platform grows, more customization options should be added.
The Instant Articles feature has been in use by some larger media companies as part of an extended beta period, and the early results are very promising. The New York Times was able to gain a staggering 9.3 times more engagement through the use of Instant Articles as opposed to vanilla posting, and while they are obviously a large and storied company, general data seems to support that publishers and websites can enjoy an increased rate of engagement by tapping into those people who use the network to get their news. By recognizing an opportunity and allowing others to capitalize on it, Facebook once again demonstrates why they're on the top of the social media mountain.
You can't post Instant Articles through the SimplyCast application, but you can use it to easily schedule posts on Facebook and Twitter, which is another overwhelming convenience. To get started with our integrated marketing solution, sign up for a free trial and unlock the potential of social media. Don't forget to check back in two weeks for the next entry in this series!