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5 Mistakes You’re Making on Facebook Instant Articles

It's worth finding the right strategy.

After making a huge wave during its rollout in 2015, some legacy publishers are now abandoning Facebook Instant Articles. In fact, more than half of the original launch partners for Instant Articles were no longer using the format in January 2018. For major publishers, Instant Articles has carved out a reputation of being hard to monetize and having limited insights. Still, Facebook announced that the use of Instant Articles grew 25% last year, with more than 10,000 publishers on board.

While big-name publishers like The Washington Post may be abandoning Facebook's mobile format, there's still room for growth and revenue on the platform for both brands and media companies. Our RebelMouse clients are experiencing growth using the format every day. However, it does take careful testing and the right strategy to see ROI and audience increases using Instant Articles. If you're still struggling to find the sweet spot on Instant Articles, here are five common missteps that could be throwing off your strategy.

1. You're Only Doing Partial Tests

It's common for publishers to stick one toe in the water with Instant Articles and then quickly give up when they don't experience immediate results. At RebelMouse, our clients make the most of monetization opportunities when they go all in on the format. Posting to Instant Articles for a brief period of time doesn't give the Facebook Audience Network a chance to act in its full capacity to start matching genuine audiences with your content. Setting up a longer testing period — where all of your content is published as an Instant Article at least once — is the only way to really see if it's a worthwhile medium for you.

2. Your Website UX Is Obtrusive

Websites that don't adhere to the new rules of Facebook will never perform. After the platform's turbulent 2016–2017 period, Facebook is making quality experiences a top priority. Not taking advantage of this latest shift is a missed opportunity for publishers. Creating a lean tech site that features unobtrusive ads and a seamless experience across platforms is the only way to build growth. What was once called a "responsive design" is not so much about the size of your screen anymore, but rather the sources of your traffic. You have to publish to a site that not only brings in traffic, but keeps them coming back repeatedly.

3. Your Website Has a Slow Response Time

Facebook cares a lot about page speed. If a user is going to leave its platform via an external link, the site they're headed to must be perfect — meaning no slow load times due to ad overload. Server response time is a deep measure of how professionally a site was built, which means publishers can no longer buy placement into the News Feed with mediocre sites and experiences.

For instance, if your site has a slow response time, you can't take advantage of Facebook Instant Articles — which can go viral more easily, creating opportunities for impactful monetization. If your content isn't using Instant Articles and is hosted on a slow site, you won't even get a chance to make it into the News Feed anymore. So not only will your slow response time turn away traffic, you'll miss out on gaining any new traffic. Slow websites with server response times higher than 100 ms are going to continue to see a deprioritization on the platform.

4. You're Missing Out on Growth Opportunities

It's not impossible for publishers to experience high CPMs using the Facebook Audience Network without implementing the right strategies. But simply using interest targeting on Facebook can bring in mixed results, usually resulting in high impressions and low conversion rates. Using data like customer lists and engagement metrics to create custom and lookalike audiences on the platform is a better way to target relevant audiences that can deliver long-lasting growth. Facebook Instant Articles is an opportunity to deliver an easy experience to new audiences that could be interested in your content.

5. You're Posting the Wrong Content

It's important to publish the right kind of content on Facebook Instant Articles. Using long-form, dynamic content rather than a random selection of thinner articles is a better way to capture loyal readers. It's common for publishers to use shorter pieces of content because social has always been thought of as a faster and lighter experience. But now that everyone lives on the News Feed, there's space for long-form and rich content that makes a visitor stay to read the entire article. That's the kind of content that moves the needle.

Why You Should Get It Right

We're realists at RebelMouse, and we believe every source of traffic matters to publishers. Abandoning any of them at this point in time is directionally wrong for most companies. Embracing Facebook by playing by their rules — while also leveraging other platforms — is the only way to ensure success. Even if you aren't on our CMS, we offer strategy services that include the configuration and optimization of Instant Articles, as well as other formats and practices, including SEO. Publishers solely relying on a pay-to-play strategy aren't going to survive 2018. You simply cannot create a successful, sustainable business without cementing deep, meaningful connections with your audience, and Instant Articles is still a viable way to discover those followers. These are the connections that foster organic growth and bring in revenue.

Page Speed Is Crucial to Your Marketing Efforts

Most marketers don't prioritize page speed because they don't think it impacts their bottom line. However, page load has a direct impact on conversions and revenue.

Here's a very simple scenario, supported by industry data, to underscore why the way pages are built and powered is crucial for paid media initiatives and your overall business:

Let's say a paid media campaign drives 100,000 new visitors to a landing page that takes five seconds to load. Google says that 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. So of the 100K mobile site visitors you paid to bring to the page, ~50K are leaving immediately due to poor page performance alone.

Some studies even show that bounce rate increases approximately 100% for every two-second delay. So, if site load jumps to seven seconds, you'll pretty much lose all of the visitors your paid strategies brought in.

A Poor Site Experience Costs More Than You Realize

Page load plays a huge part in customer dissatisfaction, too. Continuing on with our previous example, let's classify the ~50K that didn't abandon the page as dissatisfied due to poor page performance. As HubSpot points out, 79% of them are less likely to buy again from the same website. That's ~40K visitors never coming back to the site due to poor page speed. The loss is even greater when you consider how valuable returning visitors are: They represent up to 48% of all transactions and spend almost 2x more than new visitors, according to Business Insider.

Plus, people love to spread the word about a bad experience, probably more than a good one. 40% of visitors who had a bad experience with a website's performance would tell a friend or a family member. So of your 50K dissatisfied visitors, 20K are talking negatively about your brand. If they tell only one person each, that's an opportunity cost of another 20K potential site visitors and customers.

The main takeaway? Your paid media has to work much, much harder when you neglect to optimize your site for performance.

Owned and Paid Media Should Work Together for Better Efficiency

And speaking of site improvements to help the bottom line, marketers can't overlook the value of owned content (e.g., articles, reviews, social feeds, etc.) and its impact on overall traffic and lead generation strategies. Sites tend to see significant lift in audience reach and conversion when content is paired with commerce: For e-commerce companies, content can account for up to 69% of total organic traffic. And, even more compelling, conversion rates have been 6x higher for companies that adopt content marketing.

RebelMouse's CMS makes it easy for brands to systematically optimize page speed performance and organic reach, which allows paid media to be more efficient.

RebelMouse allows clients to easily manage website layouts and components at any time, ensuring sites remain fast and are rewarded by Google and Facebook. Our platform features proprietary SEO tools designed to help clients optimize organic search with every post and better align paid and organic search strategies for increased efficiency. Similarly, our platform also includes proprietary social tools to organically build community and growth, and our data helps clients spot winning organic trends that can inform paid social media.

RebelMouse Is a Partner That Can Guide You

When it comes to content marketing, it's important to be mindful of the relationship between owned, earned, and paid media — it will only help your teams engage and convert more audiences into customers and brand loyalists. At RebelMouse, we're proud of how we work with brands and our ability to provide the expertise, best practices, and modern technology that help teams become better content marketers. If you're a brand marketer, feel free to reach out to us to learn how RebelMouse can help you be more strategic and effective in your content marketing efforts.

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Target High-Value Users With Affinity Categories

Unlock valuable audience data and shape a new strategy

In today's landscape, quality content isn't enough — it's half the battle. Publishers need to produce shareable content backed by data to experience sustainable growth. At RebelMouse, we have a unique pageview methodology that provides an innovative user experience for every reader without sacrificing revenue and growth opportunities for publishers.

To do this, we track massive amounts of data across our platform through the use of custom-built Google Data Studio dashboards.

Click here to see the kind of growth our clients experience every day.

One of the best ways to discover more about your audience is by taking advantage of Affinity Categories. This feature breaks down audience demographics, including age, location, interests, and more. Affinity Categories are usually used to target audiences for ads, but we also use them to gain insights on what topics a site's visitors are interested in overall.

Normally, each category is listed out separately in Google Analytics. In the example shown above, our data experts split categories into separate levels to reveal different levels of audience depth. For instance, by splitting up the category News & Politics, we can better explore the detailed distribution of users interested in specific types of news:

  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Avid Political News Readers
  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Entertainment News Enthusiasts

From an editorial standpoint, this is useful because it allows publishers to determine and target varying levels of high-value users, improving the efficacy of a new content strategy or ad campaign.

If your site is already powered by RebelMouse, email support@rebelmouse.com to get a breakdown of your audience's Affinity Categories. If you aren't powered by RebelMouse yet, request a proposal today and start receiving the data you need to grow loyal followers at scale.

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Infinite Scroll: An Innovative + Intuitive UX

There is a common misconception that publishers have to sacrifice monetization and professional design to deliver a high-performing, quality user experience to its readers. But in today's modern publishing environment, websites can deliver an unobtrusive site experience that's intuitive, elegant, and prosperous.

To do this consistently, RebelMouse supports infinite scroll as part of our bigger design strategy called Social UX for Media. Much like the news feeds of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, infinite scroll provides an endless stream of articles to its readers so they never reach the "end" of your content.

Infinite scroll is an innovative approach, but it is also a widely adopted standard that has been endorsed and is supported officially by Google, Comscore, Nielsen, and many other industry giants. It's part of a new media strategy deployed by companies with massive valuations and the highest level of visibility in the U.S. market, including Axios, Vice, and The Verge.

In fact, RebelMouse built and launched news powerhouse Axios, now one of the biggest new media companies to date, with our Social UX for Media design featuring infinite scroll. It's still a core part of Axios' successful publishing strategy today. The feature has also been key to the growth of many other RebelMouse-powered properties, including La Verità, Dance Magazine, and United Airlines.

RebelMouse's Social UX for Media design, featuring infinite scroll on hub.united.com.

The primary reason infinite scroll is so successful is because it mimics user behavior in an innovative, yet familiar way, thanks to its similarity to social feeds. On mobile, expandable posts make it easy for users to read "before the jump" and quickly expand to the rest of the article with one click, rather than being taken to another article page. This is similar to when a user expands a caption on Instagram. It's these simple design details that bring massive growth to key stats like return visits and time on site.

Our page view methodology not only keeps the user experience intact, it also includes robust ad serving technology. We use industry standard rules for page views that require at least 50% of the screen space to change before it counts as a new page view. So whether you use Comscore or Nielsen to verify your site traffic, infinite scroll will not have a negative impact on your insights.

If you're interested in launching a site with our game-changing Social UX for Media design, request a proposal today and let's start working together. If your site is already powered by RebelMouse, and you have questions about infinite scroll, email support@rebelmouse.com.

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Particle Assembler: Ads in Slideshows Now Supported

You can now insert ads between slides in a slideshow!

Monetizing users' engagement and page views is pivotal to most digital businesses, and our Particle Assembler has been an invaluable tool in helping RebelMouse clients to insert native ads seamlessly into their content. Now we've taken this functionality one step further by introducing support for ads between slides in Assembler's slideshow layout.

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