Facebook now offers Facebook Instant Articles, an ultra-fast and responsive article posting feature that allows WordPress users to post content capable of loading 10 times faster than a normal webpage. If you want your articles to wear the lightning bolt badge of honor, here’s how to add Facebook Instant Articles to your WordPress site.
Benefits of Facebook Instant Articles
The Instant Article feature provides a variety of benefits, including an increased chance of readers clicking on your article. Facebook labels its Instant Articles with a small white lightning bolt, notifying users that the article will load faster than others. Users recognize the lightning bolt as a sign of improved user experience and are more likely to select and share them.
Facebook Instant Articles eliminate the problem of slow page downloads using an HTML5 document optimized for the web. As smartphone and tablet adoption continues to increase, mobile optimization is more important than ever. As an added bonus, you’ll gain access to Facebook’s more than one billion users worldwide when you use this feature—a massive audience that can generate new site traffic.
Step 1: Sign up for Facebook Instant Articles
Facebook offers an Instant Articles Quickstart Guide for users’ convenience, but it doesn’t go into detail about using the feature for WordPress. There are a few basic things you’ll need before you can use Instant Articles with your WordPress site:
The first step toward acquiring these four elements is to sign up at the Facebook Instant Articles website. Facebook will ask you to select a page, at which time you’ll pick your WordPress site’s Facebook page. Follow the steps for signing up, and you’ll see an Instant Articles section pop up in your Facebook page’s publisher toolbox.
Step 2: Authorize Your Site
You must prove ownership of your website by claiming your URL before you proceed. Click the “Claim Your URL” link, and you’ll see a meta tag appear. Add this custom meta tag to your website’s tag. Facebook offers links along the way if you need help claiming your URL. You can customize your URL by typing your desired website name in the URL box.
Step 3: Setup the Facebook Instant Articles Plugin and RSS Feed
Use WordPress’s Plugin Directory to download the Instant Articles plugin. This will grant you support for the Articles feature and give you a new menu to connect your WordPress to your Facebook page. With the plugin, you can see the status of your Instant Articles submissions. If your submission doesn’t adhere to the pre-defined transformer rules, you’ll be notified that it hasn’t been approved. Facebook requires your feed to have a minimum of articles before performing a review. Once approved, your new posts will automatically go live on Instant Articles.
Once you’ve installed the plugin, Facebook will generate the feed. You can see your feed by adding the “/feed/instant-articles” string to your domain name. Go to your Instant Articles area of Facebook, add your RSS feed into the section titled “Production RSS Feed,” and click “Save.” Your feed for Instant Articles is now connected to your page.
Step 4: Creating the Facebook App
Go to the Facebook Page for Developers and click “Add a New App.” Choose the option “website” and create a new App ID. Then, enter your custom URL (without the “http://”) in the “Site URL” box. Click “Next” and then “Skip Quickstart Guide.” To make your app live, click the “App Review” link on the left-hand side of your screen. Change “Make Instant Article public?” to “Yes” and your app will be live.
Return to your Instant Article plugin settings, and copy your App ID and App Secret into the WordPress plugin. You’ll have to validate your Facebook login, then select your WordPress Facebook page from the list. Now your plugin is configured with your app, and you’re ready to submit articles for review!
Step 5: Submit at Least 10 Articles
Go to your WordPress dashboard and open 10 blog posts you’ve already published. Open them in “Edit” mode and save them again. This will send those articles to your Facebook Instant Articles RSS feed. Submit them all for review, and wait three to four days for a response. If you didn’t follow one of the guidelines, you’ll receive an error notification. You can fix posts with errors and resubmit them.
Step 6: Go the Extra Mile
If you want to take your Facebook Instant Articles to the next level (and you should), add your website logo. Go to your Instant Articles tools and select the “Styles” drop-down. Click on “Default” and upload your logo. It should be formatted to at least 690 by 132 pixels for the best image quality. You can choose your background color and accent color for further customization. Click “Save & Done,” and your logo will appear on your page. Now you can enjoy your Facebook Instant Articles!