Facebook has introduced a new feature that allows businesses to connect with consumers on a deeper level. Businesses can now share article-length content with Facebook’s Instant Articles. It’s basically a publishing tool, similar to the one LinkedIn members use.
What makes it “instant?” The articles load (almost) instantly, which means readers aren’t waiting for that sluggish bar to slide across the screen before actually seeing the article.
Facebook says the articles load ten times faster than standard mobile content, which leads to a 70 percent less abandonment rate.
For businesses looking to test-drive Instant Articles, here are seven things you should know:
- The benefits of creating content
You’re probably already juggling several marketing initiatives, including social media posts, so why should a business create and share articles with Instant Articles?
Content can reach customers at their convenience. Research shows 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying a product. And here’s another stunning fact: By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships without talking to a human.
By posting helpful content through Instant Articles, you’ll keep your brand in front of prospective customers, provide information customers are seeking and show your audience that you have a reputable online presence.
- The sign up process
To start using Instant Articles, you have to sign up for it on the Facebook website. In addition, you’ll have to do a little upfront legwork.
Facebook wants to make sure that the content that’s published is top-notch, so right now it’s asking everyone who wants to use Instant Articles to submit ten samples. Here’s a checklist of writing guidelines. If you already write blog content, you could pull some content from there.
It’s a big order for some small businesses, but once you have the green light from Facebook, you’ll have a series of great articles to schedule out for the next several months.
Facebook claims to review all submissions within 3-5 business days.
- Your content shows up in newsfeeds
When you publish an article, it will now show up in a fan’s newsfeed. It provides something new and different from the typical, “We’re having a sale” post.
You can also use tools to add autoplay video, audio captions and interactive maps. In other words, it’s more than just a wall of text; it allows businesses to create sharp looking content that engages readers.
- You can monetize your content
Facebook has some unique advertising options within Instant Articles. Right now there are some options that let businesses keep 100% of the revenue generated from specific ads. It could generate a few bucks for businesses, so it’s certainly something to look into.
- You can collect email addresses
As you publish content, you can embed a form that collects email addresses from readers. That means businesses can reach out to customers via email to drive leads, increase brand awareness and boost sales.
- You get access to metrics
Facebook has always been good about measuring traffic and engagement so users can make improvements to their posts, and Instant Articles is no different. Businesses that use this feature are given access to statistics like reach, engagement, time spent on an article, scroll depth and interaction with media within the article.
- Creating content that engages
For business owners that are new to the content game, it’s important to understand what kind of content your customers want.
As a rule of thumb, the content that you create shouldn’t be full of self-promotions and product pitches. It should, however, be connected to your brand and provide value to your customers.
If you’re stuck for ideas, popular content types include Top 10 lists, Tricks and Tips and Current Event pieces.
A hair salon, for example, could create a list of Top 10 Over-the-Counter Beauty Products to Avoid, or a company that sells pool supplies could create a current event piece on new safety regulations.
The idea is to write and share articles that your readers want, which in turn bolsters your reputation and enhances your relationship with consumers.