What’s all the hoopla about?
Facebook’s new publishing feature isn’t called “instant” for nothing. There’s literally no lag time, which means no waiting/loading for the user, leading to a greater user experience – Instant Articles’ main selling point. Add to that the seamless, responsive and visually pleasing presentation of the content and you’ve got a winner. Emotions will run high for the first-time user, similar to Forbes author Miguel Helft when he realised he was looking at a game-changer.
What will publishers get out of it?
This is still slightly unclear. Profitability and monetisation for publishers have not been clearly defined yet. Instant Articles are native to (and the content hosted by) Facebook, meaning no direct traffic to the publisher’s site.
Although Facebook allows publishers to sell and profit from display ads within their articles, branding is minimal and there’s no navigation menu to the publisher’s site – your exit strategy is to swipe right and land back on your Facebook feed.
What’s in it for your fans?
It’s fast and immersive. Autoplay videos, click-to-expand high-res imagery, audio captions and interactive maps to illustrate your story. Tilt, turn, swipe and scroll your way through the beautifully rendered content, then swipe right once more to return to your feed. This is storytelling at its best and it’s setting the bar high for other social platforms.
Watch a video of the experience here:
Currently only available on iOS devices and accessible for nine top publishers, the feature has already been hailed as a turning point in the world of digital marketing. An Android version will soon follow and the feature will inevitably be released to a wider circle of publishers.
Facebook is now well on its way to becoming a publishing powerhouse, among other things. Taking a leap towards becoming the favourite news destination and coaxing its users with beautifully designed solutions is only the beginning. 1.5 billion users means a lot of decision-making power when it comes to who, how and what gets published, how the profits will be shared and who will eventually own the content. All this has made Australian futurist Ross Dawson warn publishers to be wary of handing over their content to the social media giant.
Content is king again
Facebook has long emphasised the sort of quality they expect from businesses on their platform – an attempt to make content king again, which has long been a futile fight… until now.
Similar to Google’s latest algorithm update, which prioritises content that renders well on mobile and leaves everyone else in the dust, Facebook has now put publishers on the receiving end of an ultimatum: play by the rules or be left behind.
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