WordPress Plugins For Facebook Instant Articles
While sharing a blog post on social media is possible by directly posting a link for your followers, that’s not always the most effective way of delivering your content. Therefore, you might be wondering if there is a more elegant solution for reaching readers.
That’s where Facebook Instant Articles (IA) comes into the picture. Always innovative, Facebook offers a fast and easy way to connect your blog content with your social media presence. More than just a linking tool, IA also provides customizations for styling how your posts will look on the platform.
In this post, we’ll explore how to download and connect the dedicated Instant Articles WordPress plugin to your website. Plus, we’ll discuss how to customize, submit, and publish your IA-enabled posts. Let’s get started!
What Is Facebook Instant Articles?
A fairly new addition to Facebook’s array of marketing tools, IA enables you to share articles from your blog in a quick-to-load format for mobile devices:
There are several benefits to using this service. You’re likely to see faster loading speeds, which means more followers should stick around to read your content. Additionally, the increased speeds and optimized formatting can enhance the user’s experience. Below, we’ll explore the advantages and drawbacks of IA in more detail.
Facebook Instant Articles: Pros and Cons
Facebook’s IA system seems appealing, and it’s well worth checking out. Of course, as with any innovation, there are some pros and cons to consider first. Let’s take a look at a few of the key considerations before we dive into setting up the application.
Due to the way IA works, its primary benefit is increased performance. Facebook pulls your entire post content onto its mobile platform, making it possible for each page to load fast and efficiently.
There are other advantages to using IA as a method for getting your blog posts on Facebook. For example, consider the sheer number of people who access the social media platform on their mobile devices. Research shows that 96% of active Facebook users visit the platform from a smartphone or tablet.
With more than 100 million average app downloads per month, a fast IA article has the potential to be seen and shared at an astronomical rate. Additionally, if you’re using the Facebook Audience Network, you can also maximize its IA option by monetizing the posts you share on Facebook.
As with anything that seems too good to be true, there are a few drawbacks to consider. When it comes to IA, it’s important to understand what Facebook sacrifices in your posts to gain that sleek, speedy delivery.
When you feed a post through the IA process, Facebook will strip out some theme-related elements of your content. This means that widgets, header images, and/or footer content might get left behind. You’ll have to consider if this is problematic for your brand and content.
Additionally, Facebook will only permit a certain amount of images and videos to populate in IA. Again, this process is what helps IA stay fast, and your posts will remain light and streamlined. However, it might not be the best representation of your content if it relies heavily on media.
What You Need to Set Up Facebook Instant Articles
If you’re ready to give IA a try, there are a few things you’ll need to add to the pre-flight checklist. While some of these items are common sense, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need in order to use this handy piece of social media magic.
- A WordPress website
- An IA integration plugin
- A Facebook Page
- Your publication’s logo
- At least five articles published on your website
- The Facebook Pages Manager app
While that might seem like a lot to coordinate, all these components work together to create the fast and seamless IA process. Once you have everything set up, you’ll be able to preview your articles in the Pages Manager app before posting them to Facebook.
How to Set Up Facebook Instant Articles With WordPress (In 7 Steps)
Now that you’ve gathered all the elements you need to get started, let’s walk through the process of connecting your WordPress site to Facebook through IA.
Step 1: Sign Up for Facebook Instant Articles
The first step is signing up for Facebook Instant Articles. To do that, you need to visit the Facebook Instant Articles website and click on Sign Up. Then select an available page, or click Create one now and run through the setup process if you don’t yet have one:
With your page selected, you’ll next need to verify ownership of your website. Within your Facebook page’s administration menu, go to Publishing Tools > Configuration > Tools > Connect Your Site:
Here, copy the code that’s provided, and then open a new window where you can access your WordPress admin dashboard. Once there, navigate to Appearance > Editor, paste in the code at the top of the edit window, and save your changes.
To finish up, go back to Connect Your Site in your Facebook page settings. Enter your website’s URL, and then choose Claim URL to display a verification:
With Instant Articles now set up on your Facebook page, let’s look at how to connect it to your WordPress site.
Step 2: Download the Plugin and Add an RSS Feed
The second part of the process requires you to download, install, and activate an Instant Articles plugin. For this tutorial, we’ll be using Instant Articles for WP.. This is the plugin recommended by Facebook, although we’d recommend testing it out carefully, as it hasn’t been updated in some time.
Once you’ve set up the plugin, you’ll need to enable your website and IA to automatically sync by creating an RSS feed. After you do that, the IA plugin will carry out the syncing process on its own.
To locate the feed, simply add /feed/instant-articles to the end of your website’s URL in a browser (for example, https://mywebsite.com/feed/instant-articles). Next, copy this URL from the search bar, and head back to the Facebook page you’re sending articles to.
Now, under Publishing Tools > Instant Articles > Configuration, you can open the Production RSS Feed tab and paste in the URL:
Once that’s complete, any posts published on your WordPress website will automatically appear under Production Articles in your Facebook page’s settings.
Step 3: Connect the Instant Articles Plugin to Facebook
Of course, the Instant Articles for WP plugin isn’t very useful if it’s not connected to your Facebook page. Fortunately, it’s very easy to make that happen.
Return to your WordPress dashboard, and navigate to the Instant Articles screen. You’ll be brought to a dedicated settings page:
Here, you’ll enter your Facebook Page ID. To find this on your Facebook page, go to Publishing Tools > Configuration > Tools > Connect Your Site. Copy the bold number located just below the code you previously added to the settings. Then, paste the numbers into the relevant field within WordPress:
Once you save your changes, the configuration process is complete!
Step 4: Customize Your Instant Articles
One of the great things about IA is the ability to customize your posts. There are customization options that apply to your posts’ style, colors, and other key design elements.
To start tweaking these settings, you can use the Style Templates in Facebook. To access them, go to Publishing Tools > Configuration > Tools > Styles from your Facebook page. Click on Add Style, and the Style Editor will appear as a popup:
You can add a background color, and edit Article Head elements such as your logo, headline, byline, and more. You can also edit Article Body elements, including headings and article text. Additionally, you can customize how captions and quotes will appear in your article.
Every change you make will appear in the preview screen on the right. When you’re happy with the results, simply name your style and click on Create.
Step 5: Submit Your Facebook Instant Articles Feed for Review
Once the plugin is fully configured, it’s time to submit your articles to Facebook for review. However, there are a few requirements to keep in mind as you move forward. First, you’ll need a minimum of five articles in your Production Library before the review process will begin.
Second, your articles must contain logos. You can do this within the Style Editor. The process is similar to setting a header image in WordPress, and there are only two requirements:
- The image must be a transparent PNG.
- The size must be set to a minimum of 690×132 px.
Once you’ve adhered to the above parameters, you’re ready to submit your feed. Within Facebook, head to Publishing Tools > Configuration > Initial Setup > Step 2: Submit For Review. If all of the requirements are met, the Submit for Review button will be available for you to select:
At this point, your articles will go through a manual review process. This usually takes between 3–5 business days.
Step 6: Publish Your Instant Articles for WordPress
Once the articles in your feed have been approved, they’re finally ready to be distributed and viewed by your followers.
While Instant Articles don’t automatically post to your page, they can be easily shared. Simply create a new Facebook post, include the article link (which will be the link of your WordPress post), and click on Share! The article is now available for all your followers to read and distribute across Facebook.
Step 7 (Optional): Create a Facebook App for Your WordPress Page
At this point, you’ve learned how to set up and share articles with IA. If you want to monetize your articles using Facebook Ads, however, there are some additional configurations you’ll want to complete.
This involves creating a Facebook App (with Facebook Developer), and using the Audience Network platform. To begin, go to Publishing Tools > Configuration > Audience Network within your Facebook page. Check the ‘terms and conditions’ box, and then click on Get Started:
This step will create a Facebook App for your page. You can configure the settings under Audience Network by selecting your Dashboard:
To customize ad placement, navigate to Audience Network > Placements on the left-hand menu. You’ll find your Placement ID under Active Placements:
Copy this ID, and then head back to the Instant Articles for WP plugin settings within WordPress. Complete the following items:
- Go to Ads > Ad Type
- Select Facebook Audience Network
- Paste the Placement ID into the Audience Network Placement ID field
- Save your changes
With these settings in place, your articles will now display ads from the Facebook Ads Network. This means you can monetize your articles with no additional effort needed.
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If you want to improve the reach of your content for Facebook users, Instant Articles is the way to go. This easy-to-use and customizable tool can enhance the user experience, while also boosting engagement.
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