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Facebook’s Changing Up the Content Game Once Again

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You’re on the train, it’s Monday morning. There’s not a lot happening in the carriage. The elderly man next to you smells a bit like cabbage and the woman in the back corner is talking rapidly on her mobile about the many impressive meetings she has on for the day. There’s really not a whole lot going on at all.

But as you glance lazily around the crowd, the slight scent of coffee, cologne and hairspray on the nose, you notice a middle-aged man struggling to keep a large newspaper at bay. He’s hitting the woman next to him in the face, running the risk of delivering paper cuts along her perfectly contoured face and she’s definitely not impressed (the passive-aggressive huffing and puffing going on). He’s swinging his head right angles to get a glimpse of the headline running in a thin column down the second page, hitting his hand on the window as the train rolls on.

Suddenly you’re intrigued about the skateboarding bulldog that’s covering the front page. Perhaps it’s the twinkle in its eye as it proudly stands upon its pastel pink skateboard, all in prime position for the perfect snap. Either way, it’s pretty interesting news to you but you can’t read the damn text with the man struggling to keep the paper in order (a page just fell onto the woman’s stilettos).

So you snatch out your iPhone from your pocket and automatically open up Facebook out of habit. Your friends don’t seem to have a lot going on either, unfortunately. But there, right in front of your eyes, Huffington Post has popped up a pretty awesome article on the best Game of Thrones theories to date. Hook, line, sinker.

You tap on it with no hesitation, and the words appear in front of you faster than Eminem spurts out the lyrics of Rap God.  There’s no wait time, no distractions and in less than 30 seconds, you’ve caught up on how Jon Snow…wait, never mind.

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Facebook has made ‘instant’ a thing

The mega-social platform’s nifty new-ish feature means publishers can deliver content to its audience instantly, with zero load times or redirects. This means users are less likely to bounce away from an article as it struggles to load, and can access their favourite stories all using the Facebook app. Primarily, this is a handy feature for publishers who have a good following on the platform and are looking for their content to be pushed to maximum reach.

Okay, but why not keep it to just a website redirect?

When a user scrolls through Facebook and finds an article they like and are inclined to read on, they are sometimes turned off by the fact that they’re forced out of the app to do so. This means waiting for their mobile browser to launch, wiggling thumbs while the page loads and then having to jump back into the app afterwards. All this effort takes away from the whole experience and publishers are finding they’re losing out because of it. In fact, Instant Articles displays content 10 times faster than than any web browser.

There’s still some guidelines to follow in this marketing avenue, however. Instant Articles are only enabled if the website has that particular piece of content published on their website. The upside about this is that publishers don’t have to create unique content for Facebook as a standalone distribution stream, it just acts as an amplification tool.

No more thrashing around with the newspaper. All the headlines are at your fingertips, readily available for you to access without any downtime. Literally. Now go find out about Jon Snow.

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By Cassie McBlane


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