Facebook has been known for making regular changes to its platform, to improve customer experience. One such recent development in the platform is the inclusion of Facebook Instant Articles. This new feature to Facebook is a boon to all content writers and readers alike.
Slow loading web pages on mobile, especially in developing countries has made it difficult for users to read articles. In order to overcome this difficulty and provide fast and immersive reading experience, Facebook developed and launched Instant Articles. How do you recognize articles that use this new feature? You will find a bolt icon right next to the page name, just below the Post Title(see below Image)
Facebook claims that the by uploading articles using the Instant Articles feature, the article loads 10x faster and 20% more people have read it on an average. Moreover, Facebook claims that 70% fewer people are likely to abandon the article. This is like music to the ears of publishers who have been battling high bounce rates due to page load issues.
Facebook has also made it extremely easy to import articles from WordPress via a third party plugin. In this article, we will share exactly how you can configure Facebook Instant Articles for WordPress.
Pre-requisites for Setting Up Facebook Instant Articles for WordPress Site
Before you start the process of configuring Facebook Instant Articles for WordPress, you need to have the following things ready:
- Facebook page for your WordPress site, where you are the admin
- Few articles on your website
- Instant Articles for WP plugin
- Facebook page app
Step-By-Step Guide to Set Up Facebook Instant Articles for WordPress
Step 1: Signing Up for Instant Articles and Claiming Your URL
Go to Facebook Instant Articles website and get started by clicking the ‘Sign Up’ button. Choose the right Facebook page from the list in which you want to enable Instant Articles. In case you don’t have any page yet, you can still create one.
Now, you need to ‘Agree’ to the terms of Instant Articles, followed by a click on the button ‘Access Instant Articles Tools’.
On the next screen, click on Continue and proceed further. This will lead you to the ‘Publishing Tools’ section of the chosen Facebook page. Here, you get access to documentation and blog for Instant Articles configuration, along with a list of steps for initial setup to start publishing Instant Articles.
You can authorize your website by choosing the option ‘Connect Your Site’ to start importing Instant Articles.
Now, Facebook displays a code snippet (meta tag), which needs to be inserted in the <head> tag of your WordPress site’s HTML section, by editing the header.php file in your child theme.
An alternate way to add the snippet to the head section is by using Insert Headers and Footers plugin. If you need assistance, see the step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.
The plugin is now activated. Navigate to Settings » Insert Headers and Footers and insert the code in the header section. Click Save.
Revert to the Facebook account and enter the URL of the site required. Click Claim URL.
One more important task to be performed here is to copy and save the Page ID shown, as seen in the above image. This will be used later once your Instant Articles WordPress plugin is activated.
Step 2: Generate an Instant Articles feed
In this step, you have to install the Instant Articles for WP plugin, by searching for the same from your ‘plugins’ section of your WordPress dashboard.
Now, the feed can be found by appending /feed/instant-articles/ after the site’s URL. Below is a sample of how the complete URL will be displayed:
Copy the feed URL from the address bar and paste it in the RSS feed URL field found in the Production RSS feed section under ‘Publishing Tools’ on the Facebook account. Click Save.
Once Facebook knows this blog feed, it can easily identify your latest blog posts.
Step 3: Configure the Instant Articles for WordPress Plugin
On the WordPress dashboard menu, you get the option Instant Articles. Upon clicking this option, you get directed to the plugin’s settings page.
In the Facebook Page ID field, you need the enter the ID that was saved for later use (as per step 1), from the ‘Publishing Tools’ section on your Facebook account.
You can do any kind of changes to this plugin setting from the above section.
Step 4: Submit Your Instant Articles Feed for Review
By now, you would have realized that most of the configuration is to be done from the WordPress dashboard and the ‘Publishing Tools’ section on your Facebook account.
Before you can start publishing, the Instant Articles team will check/review a sample set of your articles. You have to ensure that you create at least 10 articles in your ‘production library’ before you submit them for review. Also, the ‘Publishing Tools’ section provides you options to style the articles accordingly, before having them in your Instant Articles feed.
All the steps for review submission are clearly specified in Step 2, as described in the Instant Articles Configuration block, under ‘Publishing Tools’.
Once you are ready with your edited articles, click on Submit for Review. The reviewing committee from Facebook will have a look at the articles and will provide a detailed feedback within 3 to 5 working days. Once the review team approves your feed, the ‘Instant Articles’ will be available for your site.
All in all, Facebook has taken upon itself to promote Instant Articles and is encouraging top publishing companies to adopt this technology. This will, in turn, open up possibilities of greater revenue generation for Facebook via audience network and help people stay hooked on Facebook in the near future.
Finally, to reap the benefits with Facebook Instant Articles for WordPress, it is wise to get started early and beat the competition by leveraging Facebook’s huge mobile audience for reach, readership, and revenue.