Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Facebook Instant Articles for Likes, Traffic and Revenue: Review

To increase the reach and revenue of my blogs, I have been posting them on Facebook Instant Articles (IA). In a Facebook Page, you post only the teaser, link and some media. But in Instant Articles, you must publish the entire content of the blog post. This makes your blog post native to Facebook instead of being just an external link. With IA, mobile users can read the entire post on their Facebook app without having to load my website. But did Instant Articles benefit me as a publisher? This blog post contains my experience till date.

Important points for the uninitiated:
1. Instant Articles is different from your Facebook Page. Initially, I stupidly imagined that if I posted the entire blog post on my Facebook Page, it becomes an Instant Article! Read a detailed explanation and step-by-step tutorial of Facebook Instant Articles.
2. Facebook Instant Articles are shown to only Facebook mobile app users
3. Backlinks from IA have no SEO value. IA posts are not indexed by search engines.

Referral Traffic: In IA, you can also leave a blog post's web URL for people who would rather read it on your website. Since IA users are on mobile, I was expecting the click throughs to be low. As expected, Google Analytics showed no increase referral traffic from Facebook. I would not suggest counting on Instant Articles for referral traffic.

Effort: Converting your blog posts to FB's Instant Articles format requires some effort and HTML knowledge. All popular CMSes have plugins to convert blog posts to IA format but none of these have good user ratings. Until they get better at it, I will convert manually.

Submit again for Facebook Page: One would expect IA to atleast auto-post your blog link on Facebook page. But No, you have to do it yourself. So you end up submitting the same post twice: once for IA and once for Page.

Revenue: With Adsense's revenue falling by the day, I hoped to make some money from IA's Audience Network ads. Earning from Facebook's audience network is a pity and nowhere close to AdSense. Low ad revenue seems to be the major reason why many major publishers have shied away from IA. Publishers need revenue to sustain and an altruistic explanation that IA benefits the users is not sufficient. Here is a great article about Instant Articles not making enough money for publishers.

Likes: This is one positive sign of Facebook Instant Articles. New Likes have increased by 7% at an average every week after I have started posting on IA. Though I do not make revenue from IA, I keep publishing on IA only for the Likes.

Call to Actions: Facebook now allows call-to-actions like Email-signup boxes and Page Like button within Instant Articles. If you have implemented these in your Instant Articles, I would like to know the results.

I would love to read your feedback. Did you try Instant Articles and what are your experiences?