What Facebook’s Instant Article Feature Means for Brands

Brands interested in taking advantage of these opportunities with features such as Instant Articles need to develop a real-time culture and put in place the right team and technology to execute it effectively.

Facebook launched its Instant Article feature recently, giving publishers, including both media outlets and brands, the ability to post more interactive and readable content.

Launched in response to an increase in users reading articles posted on the site — particularly on mobile devices — Facebook is also hoping to please publishers who are interested in posting sharable content on the site to better interact and engage with consumers.

The new feature not only meets the needs of both consumers and publishers, but also points to a larger trend of blurred lines between media outlets and brands and the rise in social media as a news source. Consumers are increasingly turning to social media to monitor current events and consume news, and brands have a desire to act more like publishers and reach consumers with genuine, informative content.

Rise in social for news

In our constantly connected world, it’s normal for consumers to check social media daily or even multiple times a day. And most are treating these sites as one-stop shops for both updates from friends or family and more information about current events.

If breaking news happens, many consumers will log onto Facebook or Twitter before visiting a news source directly. Not only are consumers looking for information from the news outlets themselves, but are also interested in hearing what their friends and family are posting in response to the event.

Facebook’s new feature makes it easy for users to consume content from publishers and share it with their networks. The feature makes content more readable and interactive across all devices by offering faster load times, high resolution photos, in-line commenting capabilities and higher quality videos.

Brands as publishers

The increase in consumers looking to social media for news paves the way for anyone to be a publisher, and brands have jumped on this opportunity.

Brands are now delivering timely, relevant content for followers. And for brands, this timeliness and relevance is the ultimate driver of business — it creates a relationship with their audiences and gives those audiences a reason to share. Ultimately, marketers can create a voice and gain consumer trust by developing timely, informative content that consumers want to read. And the best channel for this content to reach engaged consumers is social media.

Thanks to Instant Articles, posting timely, relevant content is easier than ever for brands. Rather than planning out major long-term campaigns that push promotions, brands can post genuine, sharable information in response to real-time events. As a result, brands are able to reach more consumers with the content they want to read and give them a reason to share it.

Steps for Marketers

But how do marketers effectively take advantage of Facebook’s new feature and meet the newfound consumer need for more genuine content? They can create a real-time, content-driven internal culture by following these steps:

  1. Build a team and assign roles and responsibilities: With a team in place, marketers can create a content supply chain to make the content development process efficient and effective. Marketers also need an internal process in place for incorporating real-time events within content development.
  2. Define your brand narrative: When developing content, it’s important that marketers have a consistent brand voice. Marketers need to determine messaging and a voice that meets their brand’s persona and stick to it.
  3. Create a channel strategy: Some channels are better than others for certain content. Highly visual content might be better for Instagram, longer, more-developed content can live on Facebook and Twitter should be for quick reactions to events in real time. Marketers should also alter content for mobile, tablet and desktop.
  4. Invest in the right technology: The right technology helps marketers find the right content in real time and use it most effectively. Search and analytics tools can help marketers uncover what’s important and find the right audiences, and display technology can help them use it strategically to interact with customers.

Brands are becoming more like newsrooms and consumers are increasingly looking to social media to monitor current events. As a result, brands have an increased desire to reach consumers with informative content on social media sites. This is easier than ever.

Brands interested in taking advantage of these opportunities with features such as Instant Articles need to develop a real-time culture and put in place the right team and technology to execute it effectively.

Jordan Slabaugh is the vice president of marketing at Wayin, a Denver-based social media intelligence and marketing technology platform offering solutions to surface the best social trends and content to persuade action and drive results.