Fast-Loading Web Pages To Get A Facebook Boost
This post is an Instant Article – view it on your phone to understand how these work!
Since Facebook launched back in 2004, its mantra has been all about “the user experience”. Facebook wants its users to stay within the platform, or if they do leave, to have the best possible experience. Visiting a slow-loading web page is not a good experience, especially on a mobile device, and we all know that mobile usage is virtually universal these days.
A few days ago, Facebook announced: “during the coming months we’re making an update to News Feed to show people more stories that will load quickly on mobile and fewer stories that might take longer to load, so they can spend more time reading the stories they find relevant”
As always, the update will be rolled out over a period of weeks to months, but expect it to be in effect by the end of 2017 or early 2018.
The crucial phrase is this: “If signals indicate the webpage will load quickly, the link to that webpage might appear higher in your feed.” If you use Facebook for marketing, this is a very strong incentive to make sure your website loads quickly.
For bloggers, Instant Articles are now essential.
Take a look at Kissmetrics’ blog post with a useful infographic about website loading speeds. 73% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load, and 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
What Does This Mean For Your Facebook Marketing?
I’m not going to give advice here about the best ways to improve your website speed; there are scores of articles out there that cover it far better than I could.
However there is a side issue that I want to address – Facebook Instant Articles. These were rolled out during 2015, initially aimed at large (media) publishers, then made available to all page owners in April 2016. So far, the reception has been fairly lukewarm. I looked at Instant Articles a while ago, got the basic setup done and then gave up because the process looked complex and tricky. This latest news from Facebook has spurred me into action again and I’ve now completed the setup process.
Facebook Instant Articles are mobile-optimised equivalents of (for example) blog posts published on your website. They load up to 10 times faster than a regular web page, and as such offer instant content consumption – ideal for today’s busy online world where people are constantly scrolling. When you post your blog link to Facebook, as you’ve done hundreds of times in the past, and that blog post has an Instant Article clone, then users will automatically see the latter when accessing it on mobile. You’ll recognise an Instant Article in your newsfeed – it has a lightning bolt icon. Try clicking one to see how fast it loads! Because users are not leaving Facebook, you might think this would be a disadvantage, as there’s more chance of conversion on your website – but as with everything Facebook, the IA platform is being updated continuously; you can even include ads, and email signup forms in your articles now. (I haven’t yet explored these options)
How To Set Up Instant Articles
Here’s a quick summary of the setup process:
- Sign up and choose the page you want to link – visit instantarticles.fb.com
- (NB you must have a Facebook page and be an admin on that page).
- Claim your URL – most likely to be the website where your blog lives.
- Add the meta tag to your header (use Facebook’s recommended plugin, Instant Articles For WP). The plugin generates an RSS feed of your articles. UPDATE: another plugin, “WP Native Articles” has been reported to work better (I haven’t tried it myself)
- Connect your Facebook page.
- Create your articles – customise the styling if you wish. You’ll need at least 10 – and you’ll need to upload your logo (per Facebook’s specifications)
- The plugin adds a section at the bottom of each blog post where you can check to see if the formatting is acceptable for Instant Articles.
- Submit your articles to Facebook for approval (this takes 1-3 business days – in my case it was just under 48 hours)
Ready To Get Started?
If you are serious about getting the best possible results from Facebook – and with its massive user base, all businesses should be using it for marketing – you need to set up Instant Articles now.
However – the process requires more than a basic level of tech skill and I appreciate you may feel overwhelmed once you’ve read through the documentation! I’d be happy to help get you up and running, so that all blog posts you write in future will be converted immediately to Instant Article format. Whenever you share the link to your blog post on Facebook, mobile users will get the full Instant Article experience, giving you a huge advantage over your competitors who aren’t yet switched on to this.