Facebook Instant Articles are here.

The social media behemoth is opening up Instant Articles to all publishers. While the feature rolled out with a select group of large media companies (think Buzzfeed or The New York Times), it will be available to everyone starting April 12.

This is a very big deal.

More and more posts will now appear seamlessly within Facebook’s mobile app, much the same way that YouTube videos already do.

What are Facebook Instant Articles?

People coming & going at the Louvre

Right now, you have two options when you post a link:

  • People click through to your site
  • Facebook loads a text version of your article

Neither is optimal. The first pulls people away from Facebook’s own mobile app, which Facebook doesn’t like. Plus it’s not seamless for the user, since you’re usually waiting for the redirect to take hold. The second loses all the visuals and interactivity you might have incorporated into your post.

Facebook calls Instant Articles “interactive and immersive“:

Powerful new creative tools bring your stories to life. Instantly zoom into high-resolution photos and tilt to explore in detail. Watch autoplay video come alive as you scroll through the article. See where it all happened with interactive maps. Hear the author’s voice with embedded audio captions.

In effect, Instant Articles will bring your content right into Facebook’s app. Plus, if you have advertising, that comes with you (and you can keep the revenue). Or you can share the revenue with Facebook in exchange for content promotion.

It’s been interesting to watch major newspapers dive into Facebook Instant Articles. Time will tell whether it’s a winning business strategy. With The Washington Post, for example, they’ve traded away their paywall for Facebook eyeballs.

You can’t ignore Instant Articles.

You can't ignore Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook had 1.44 billion mobile users as of December 2015.

The potential audience is huge. Ignoring Instant Articles would be like saying you don’t want to be indexed on Google. It’s professional suicide. My blog readers don’t come from people searching for “marketing firms in DC,” but they do come from people searching for me.

You have to consider taking the leap.

Facebook wants to make it easy. The company has collaborated with Automattic to develop a plugin to make the coding part seamless to anyone running a WordPress blog. (This means me. Maybe you. And lots of big companies too.)

The home hub is dead.

Hub and Spokes

There is a catch.

Your readers aren’t coming to your site anymore.

But they probably weren’t anyway. I suspect (and the statistics will eventually prove me right — or wrong) that the people who find your content via Facebook Instant Articles aren’t the same ones who are otherwise going to your site.

The days of leading people to your Web site — and having a home hub — are gone. There are too many other places competing for their attention. Plus we have RSS emails, and Twitter streams, and Instant Articles where you can see my content. All of which means I no longer care if you find me on my Web site, via Twitter, on Facebook, or somewhere else. I just want you to find me.

Hub and spokes by Sten Dueland (Flickr).