Some people may be familiar with Facebook’s Instant Articles feature by now, which launched in May of 2015 and collaborated with a select group of publishing partners including The New York Times, BBC News, and National Geographic.
The feature targets media consumers who primarily use mobile devices, optimizing articles for a mobile format and making them easier to view and navigate on smartphones and tablets than standard web articles. Users can open and view articles from partnered publishers without leaving Facebook’s app, all the while maintaining the publisher’s original formatting for each article.
Since users never leave Facebook to view Instant Articles, which are pre-loaded in the mobile app, the need to redirect users to a different mobile page is cut out altogether and the articles load almost instantly. This design is meant to increase efficiency as well as user engagement with each article.
This past April, Facebook opened Instant Articles to all publishers. In the weeks leading up to this announcement, WordPress, the platform behind about 25% of websites, also announced their partnership with Facebook’s Instant Articles as well as the introduction of a free, open-source plugin for the blogging website.
This plugin is designed to automatically format WordPress posts to match Facebook’s standards, allowing users to share their articles without spending too much time reformatting for consistency every time they post via Instant Articles. Built-in features include optimizing images and galleries for tap-to-zoom as well as autoplay video options.
The plugin allows users to choose which posts are published to Facebook as Instant Articles and which are not using tags and category feeds, granting a large degree of control over where and when users publish their posts. And while the purpose of this plugin is to reduce the amount of work WordPress users need to do in order to post Instant Articles, it is still customizable.