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Facebook Kills Off Instant Articles 

In yet another indication that short-form video is the tail that wags the dog of big social media platforms, Facebook has announced another shift away from news content.

And, by doing so, it will put more resources towards video in an attempt to secure the future of Meta.

Instant Articles backed

So, what is the big change? Axios has reported that Facebook will kill off Instant Articles because nobody uses them. Moving forward, traffic will be directed to publisher’s websites and content will no longer be loaded in the Instant Articles format. 

Google has also said it will no longer prioritise news articles in search ranking that use its accelerated mobile pages (AMP) format, which probably means the death of these types of formats.

In other news, Meta will also axe Bulletin, the newsletter feature for journos and writers and has been busy cutting funding for U.S news publishers.

Instant Article background

For those unfamiliar, Instant Articles was a format that loaded news articles super fast (nearly 5x faster), gave publishers lower bounce rates, more engagement, better traffic and a way to earn more sustainable revenue. It also offered subscriptions and paywall features.

Meta for Media

“Instant Articles provides a faster, Facebook-native way of distributing the content that publishers already produce for their own websites.”

Instant Articles is an HTML document that’s optimised for fast mobile performance. It can be branded and customised and includes rich storytelling capabilities. 

The feature was popular because it allowed users to read articles within the Facebook app – which is why Facebook originally boasted about its success. That success was backed up by a study done by Buffer, which said that Instant Articles got 20% more clicks.

So, if you were in the publishing game or wanted to attract eyeballs to your content, Instant Articles would have been the way to do it. And for that reason, it works well for Pages that share those links.

More engagement, visibility and discovery of articles means the same for Pages – and all the benefits that can bring.

All good things must end

Meta Spokesperson, via Axios

“Currently less than 3% of what people around the world see in Facebook’s Feed are posts with links to news articles. And as we said earlier this year, as a business it doesn’t make sense to over invest in areas that don’t align with user preferences.”

To be fair, getting rid of Instant Articles to concentrate on video makes sense given that more than 50% of all time spent on Facebook is spent consuming them. Plus, Reels is the fastest-growing format on Facebook and Instagram.

Meanwhile, hosting fewer news articles could make Facebook a less divisive place – until that sort of content moves across to video.

What does it mean for content marketers?

That means we could see Facebook become a more entertaining place, which means that content marketers might have to fall in line. Instead of posting links to articles, energy might be better served by putting that information into a Reel.

It’s been clear for a while that Meta is putting more and more money and energy into its video formats, so that means marketers need to catch up. If you’re after referral traffic, you need to be publishing video content.

However, to avoid being stung by the platform’s next abrupt change of direction, it’s good to keep a mix.

As we mentioned before, Meta will stop playing publishers for their content to display on its News Tab. The cutback is part of its efforts to move from news to entertainment. After signing three-year deals with publishers in 2019, times have changed and Meta no longer wants to go down that route.

Also, the Bulletin will be wound down by 2023 – although Meta said it remained committed to helping Creators build a community on the site.

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