If you are looking for enabling Facebook Instant Articles for your blog posts then this is a no-nonsense guide for the non-technical people.
Facebook claims that Instant Articles will load 10 times faster than a normal web page shared on Facebook.
My initial thought about Instant articles was that why would any publisher spend time creating the same article on another platform. But as the time passed, I came to know that Facebook has a solution for this problem and it’s actually pretty simple.
Facebook grabs the content of the page via an RSS Feed and shows everything in a beautiful native way inside Facebook, which feels like it’s a part of the Facebook itself.
Facebook decided to call it Instant Articles and has thrown a lot of documentations in the way of publishers so that they can adapt this new format to stay relevant in the game of maximum eyeballs on the Social Media giant.
But WordPress people are cool because everything and anything can be done via plugins, thanks to the developers to these plugins.
Watch the video
Why should you bother about enabling Instant Articles?
With all the hype you might feel it’s just another fad that will go away someday, but even then you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to serve your readers a better-looking page and above all, a blazing fast mobile web experience. Don’t believe me, check out this video.
12 April is the day (which is the day I am writing this post) when Instant Articles are officially rolled out to all the publishers.
This is for the people like you and me, would are not too technical and do their things at last minute.
Check out this WordPress plugin called Facebook Instant Articles & Google AMP Pages by PageFrog.
Though Facebook has also released a WordPress plugin to help publishers make their existing posts Instant Article friendly, the plugin I mentioned above is a better option as it also lets you enabled AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Google’s equivalent of Instant Articles.
The purpose of both Instant Articles and AMP is to let users browse pages faster on Mobile phones where it currently takes 15-20 seconds for a normal page to load, these fast pages can load in 3-5 seconds. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me.
How to Enable Instant Articles in WordPress
The plugin from PageFrog is pretty cool, once you install it, you can go to options to activate Instant Articles, AMP and Apple news Format. AS this post is about Instant Articles, we will cover just that.
Click on begin setup, You will now have to request Facebook to accept you as a Publisher for Instant Articles, it’s a form you have to fill, wait for Facebook’s email to continue.
The entire process is visually shown inside the plugin when you click on Begin Setup. Here is how it looks.
Note: If the link doesn’t work, you can go to instantarticles.fb.com to signup for Instant Articles.
The signup process is easy, select the page you want to enable Instant Articles on and click the green su_button.
You can then taken to a page which gives you details to configure the Instant Articles in three steps.
This is what step one involves.
Step 1: Set Up Instant Articles
Here’s how to start creating articles and get ready for review.
Here’s how to start creating articles and get ready for review.
- Add Your Team:Give your design and development team a role on this page so they can access these tools.
- Get the Pages Manager App:Preview your articles and styles on iOS or Android.
- Claim your URL: Authorize your site by claiming a URL.
- Create Style Templates: Customize the look and feel of your articles with the Style Editor.
- Create Articles: Format articles and send them via RSS or API.
- Explore Audience Network: Monetize your articles with Facebook’s Audience Network.
- Get Email Notifications:Sign up to stay on top of product updates and important alerts.
The tools to complete these steps are given at the bottom on the same page. Like this.
Add other people from your team who manage your social media profiles, only these people will see the Instant Article section.
Also, install the Pages Manager from App store or Play Store, this helps you test pages how they look on mobile.
And third is to claim the URL, it will be your blog URL or the blogs you would be sharing your articles from. Facebook gives you these codes which you have to put in the theme by going to the theme editor, header.php of your current theme and pastes it before the,<head> tag.
Once you’ve done that, your url will be verified.
4th is Styling, which we will do in a while after we are done setting up everything.
5th point is to add the unique RSS feed of your blog to your page. You can get the RSS Feed from the PageFrog Plugin, from the 5th step when you click on Begin Setup.
Usually, the feed of a blog is domain.com/feed but PageFrog gives domain.com/feed=pagefrog_instant_articles. I haven’t tested whenever the normal RSS Feed would work. I’ll update this post once I check it or you can let me know in the comments below.
Update: The Official WordPress Plugin for Instant Articles creates a feed URL that will have fewer errors, the feed URL is: domain.com/feed/instant-articles
So, you need to grab this RSS Feed and paste it where Facebook asks you to.
I’ve left the Development RSS feed as I don’t know what to do with it. 🙂
So, next is to enable Ads aka Audience network. Just click on the get started su_button you get approved instantly, well, I at least I got.
Once you get approved, you will see some links at the same spot. You can use it to create about Account, add payment information etc to get the paid.
From your dashboard, you can create Ad placement and get the Placement Id to put it in the PageFrog plugin’s Ads section. And enable check ‘Enable Facebook Ads’ box.
This is pretty much it about the technical part of enabling the Instant Articles. Once you are done with this part, you can move over to the styling option.
While the PageFrog plugin shows you a preview of how the Instant Articles will show up on mobile phones, you have to set up styling of Instant Article on your page.
Click on default and make some changes like, add your blog’s logo, (transparent background in PNG format) which should be 690×132. And choose the current colour scheme of your blog to give it a look and feel of your blog pages.
And that’s it. Facebook says you need to submit at least 50 posts that need to be validated before being shown to the users. to see the unpublished Instant Articles grabbed via RSS you can to do the ‘Publishing tools’ section of your blog and click on ‘Production’ tab on the left sidebar.
Now, you need to have at least 50 such articles there, without any errors so that you can go to the ‘Step 2: Submit for Review’ and submit these posts for review. These will be live to users only once it is approved by the Instant Articles team.
Very rarely, you might find some error on pages, but fear not, it can be fixed easily.
For example, one of my pages shown some error. So I opened it to see if I can fix it.
Here’s what the error was
“General Warnings: Ads are too close:The Ads in the Instant Article are too close to each other – the ad at position 2 has 294 words preceding it. The ads must be separated by at least 35o words. Also, the first ad in the article must be preceded by at least 5o words, Image, videos, slideshows or social embed count count as 70.”
I checked the post using the Facebook Page Manager app on my phone as saw where the 3rd Ad is appearing, came back and added more text to the paragraph. Exceeded it to 350 words and the problem was solved.
There was another error I saw in another post, it said cover image (featured) and the first image was same, So I removed the first image. It’s actually like editing an HTML document. So, if you have a bit of knowledge about HTML, you are good with it.
Note: There was another problem I faced, the RSS feed only grabbed 38 articles from my blog, I when back to WordPress Posts and changed the dates of a few blog posts to recent and it showed more than 50 articles in a few minutes.
Once you have more than 50 error free articles in the Production tab, you can go to the ‘step 2: submit for review‘ in the ‘Instant Articles’ tab in Page Settings and submit these articles for few. It shall get reviewed by the Instant Articles team in 24-48 hours.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about enabling and setting up the Instant Article the right way, I am answering the frequently asked questions in this post rather than creating another article.
How to fix that yellow error in the Instant Articles
If you follow the article correctly, I’ve mentioned the right RSS FEED URL, it’s specially created URL for Instant Articles, and won’t give you an error in the Instant Articles.
But in case if you find any error despite using the mentioned RSS feed URL. Then you can edit the Instant Article from the Publishing tools are of your Facebook Page.
Ads not appearing on the Instant Articles
The Plugins makes it easy to display ads with automatic placements, you don’t need to do anything extra to run ads.
Just make sure you’ve entered the Payout Information, else the ads will be paused. here is how you can do it.
Do the Instant Articles rank well in Facebook than other Articles?
I’ve been running it from last few months but haven’t noticed any big difference in the reach.
How much is the Revenue from Audience Network?
Though it requires an additional article talking only about the Monetization aspect of Instant Articles, in short, I can say it’s pretty decent, I’ve been getting eCPM of $2 to $5 which is pretty good.
But until then, do all this or at least Enable AMP for your blog posts.