If you want your posts to get more visibility and shares on Facebook, then this guide is for you. In this post, you'll learn how you can implement Facebook Instant Articles to get more shares and visibility on Facebook.
What are Facebook Instant Articles?
Instant Articles were given a limited roll-out in 2015, but it wasn’t until a couple of months ago that Facebook released them globally. Here’s what an Instant Article looks like:
They’re designed to be super-optimized versions of your full posts. In fact, they’ve been shown to load up to 10 times faster on mobile devices. What’s that in real-world terms? Instant Articles load in between 0-300 ms. That’s fast. Your readers will love it.
To achieve these speeds, Instant Articles don’t load your full site. Instead, they load a stripped-down, minimalist version of your site. For this reason, Instant Articles might not be for everyone. But, giving up a little design control isn’t without its benefits. You get a much quicker loading post, and quick-loading pages give a much better user experience for mobile users.
You’re also allowed to keep your ads, though they can’t display above the fold, and Instant Articles are compatible with analytics software.
Facebook says they don’t directly promote Instant Articles within Facebook. But, given that Instant Articles provide a much better user experience, they will likely receive more natural engagement on mobile, which will indirectly lead to more visibility on Facebook. Ipso facto, more traffic and shares.
Pros of Facebook Instant Articles for WordPress
- Load up to 10x faster on mobile devices
- Can still contain ads (but not above the fold)
- Work with analytics
- More likely to get shared on Facebook (though not directly)
Cons of Facebook Instant Articles for WordPress
- Give up some control over the look of your site
- Lack of control over the design means you can’t include things like email opt-in forms or other widgets
- Instant Articles don’t always play nice with shortcodes or custom fields
- Ads cannot be above the fold
Facebook Instant Articles are not for every publisher. But, if you’re mainly concerned with getting your content in front of the most eyeballs possible, you should consider integrating them.
How to add Facebook Instant Articles to your WordPress site
To get them set up, you’ll need to install the official Instant Articles plugin and then head over to Facebook to configure some things.
1. Install the Instant Articles for WP plugin
The official Instant Articles for WP plugin will allow you to easily set up an RSS feed for your Instant Articles. Once you have this RSS feed, you can connect it to your Facebook page to publish Instant Articles.
To get started, head to the wordpress.org plugin repository or search for the plugin from inside your dashboard. Install the plugin and the proceed to configure the plugin settings.
First, you’ll need to enter your App ID and App Secret. If you don’t already have one, you can obtain it by going to developers.facebook.com/apps. Click “Register Now” in the top right corner to register as a Facebook Developer. Don’t worry - you don’t need to have any developer skills!
You’ll then see the “Add a new App” page. Select “Website”:
Give it a name:
You’ll then be prompted to fill in your email and a category. You can enter whatever email you want, but make sure you select “Apps for Pages” as the category.
On the next screen, scroll down and enter the domain of your website where it says “Tell us about your website:
After you hit “Next”, you can skip the rest of the quick start wizard by clicking “Skip Quick Start” in the top right corner:
You’ll then see your App ID and App Secret (click the “Show” button to display the Secret):
Copy those values and add them to the WordPress plugin setup.
Then there’s just one more thing before you’re done - you need to make your app live. You can do this by clicking the “App Review” tab and then clicking the button to make your app public:
After you’ve added the App ID and App Secret to the WordPress plugin, you can log in with Facebook:
Then select the page where you’ll publish your articles (if you don’t have a page yet, check out the beginning of the next section):
Further down in the plugin settings, you can configure settings for ads, analytics, and more. None of these settings are mandatory, though.
2. Connect the RSS feed to your Facebook page
Facebook page? Yeah, you’ll need one of those. If you don’t already have a Facebook page, they’re easy to create. Just head to facebook.com/pages/create and follow the instructions.
Once you’ve created your page, you’re ready to proceed with connecting your RSS feed. If you already have a Facebook page, this is where you should begin.
Go to instantarticles.fb.com and click the big “Sign Up” button.
If you’re already logged into your Facebook account, you’ll be asked to select your desired page on the next screen.
Click on your desired page, agree to the terms, and click “Access Instant Articles Tools”:
You now have access to the tools, but, unfortunately, your work is not entirely done. You’ll need to complete two more steps before you can start publishing:
- Finish the technical Instant Articles setup
- Submit some instant articles for review
To complete the technical setup, you’ll first need to claim your URL by inserting a code snippet into the header section of your theme.
To get the code snippet, click this link:
Then copy this code snippet:
Once you have it copied, go to your WordPress dashboard. Navigate to Appearance → Editor. Find your header.php file and paste the code snippet right before you see the </head> tag:
After you’ve saved your header.php file, go back to Facebook and click the “Claim URL” button. You should get a success message saying that you’re allowed to add an RSS feed now.
To find the RSS feed created by the plugin, just go to http://yourwebsite.com/feed/instant-articles. So just add “/feed/instant-articles” to the end of your URL. Enter the feed URL in the “Production RSS Feed” box and click “Save”:
Almost done! Your RSS feed should be successfully added. You just need to do a couple more things.
Style your Instant Articles
Scroll down further on the Instant Articles configuration page (the same page where you added the RSS feed) and find the styles box:
You can upload your logo, choose background images, and select other style related options.
Submit for Review
Last step - I promise! You need to submit your Instant Articles feed to Facebook for review:
If it says you don't have enough articles (like in the screenshot), you can just go back and edit and save your last 10 posts. I believe the Instant Articles plugin only adds new/newly edited articles to the feed, so even if you have more than 10 posts, it won't add the old posts until you've edited them and resaved.
Once Facebook approves your feed, Instant Articles will be available for your page.
I know the process is a bit complicated. I tried to simplify it as much as possible, but if you have any issues, please don't hesitate to ask for clarification in the comments section.