It’s time for Facebook to shine again. After years of stagnancy, the world’s biggest social media platform has decided to shake things up and give its ad products a massive facelift. Dubbed “Instant Articles”, the reworked ads are a collaboration between Facebook and various news publishers that it has partnered with.
The platform has rolled out new features that will enable advertisers to better reach their target audience and engage them into action. These include:
- Dynamic Product Carousels
- Custom Audiences based on E-Mail and Phone
- Journey to Purchase
- In-text Call to Actions
- Video pre-rolls
- Bottom Sheet for Video Views and Interactions
- Native Ad Archive
With these new features, Facebook wants to give advertisers the ability to engage potential customers at the right moment and encourage them to take an action – such as making a purchase or adding a product to their cart – at the exact time they’re exposed to an advertisement.
This is especially important for e-commerce businesses, which have much bigger revenue potential when users act on their offers. The catch is that Facebook’s new features require you to upgrade your ad inventory to use them. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you’ll need to act soon.
Luckily, there’s still time to take advantage of this offer and boost your e-commerce revenue. In this article, we’ll detail the steps you should follow to properly implement Facebook’s Instant Articles into your own e-commerce store.
Why should you use Facebook’s Instant Articles?
First off, let’s discuss what the acronym “Instant Articles” actually stands for. As the name implies, these are short-lived articles that Facebook creates on the fly and displays to readers within minutes of their publication. The content is largely pre-rendered with graphics and fonts, allowing for speedier display and load times than typical articles posted to Facebook.
This content is specifically intended for mobile users. Back in 2017, Facebook said that 95% of the time spent on the app is on mobile devices. So it would seem that this is where the social media giant is focusing its attention.
What do you get with Instant Articles?
When you publish an Instant Article to Facebook, you’ll see three large thumbnails at the top of the article. These are for displaying purposes only and don’t necessarily represent the final look of the piece. In fact, all three of these images – known as “banner” images – are completely pre-rendered and therefore don’t require much work from your side.
The first of these images is the ad unit. This is the one you’ll be charged for, based on the size and number of articles you’ve published. Facebook’s guidelines state that you should only use this space for displaying ads that are relevant to the article. So you’ll want to make sure that your products or services are mentioned within the article itself.
The second and third thumbnail banners are for your own use. These images are used to promote your own content on Facebook – whether it’s an article, a blog post, or a video. So you’ll want to make sure that these are relevant to the article as well. As a general rule of thumb, you should only use these two types of banners for relevant content.
The anatomy of an Instant Article
If you’re curious about what goes into creating an Instant Article, you’ll want to take a look at the source code. This is a veritable treasure chest of information, which you can access by clicking the “View Page Source” button next to any article on a public facing Facebook page. Doing this will give you access to the underlying HTML for the page, as well as the CSS stylesheet used to format the content. From there, you can browse through all the different aspects of the page – such as the image, heading, and body copy used to promote products.
In addition to all these components, you’ll also want to look into the little details of how each one was engineered. For instance, did the designer use specific font files and graphics? Was the background color chosen deliberately to match a certain product? These are all questions that can help you determine the overall visual appeal of the page – as well as whether or not the products being promoted are actually relevant to the content of the article.
How do I get started with Instant Articles?
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ll know that we often discuss e-commerce and digital marketing strategies for brick and mortar stores as well as online retailers. So it should come as no great surprise that we’re going to tell you to replicate the same approach that works for brick and mortar stores when it comes to online marketing.”
Firstly, you’ll want to create a separate mobile-friendly website for your e-commerce store. Since 95% of the time that users are on Facebook is on mobile devices, you can bet that many of those users will be visiting your site on their phone. If you don’t have a separate mobile website already, now is a good time to make one.
You’ll also need to decide how you want to display your products online. There are many different approaches that you can take, such as with a big picture-sliding carousel or a series of vertical photo-grid products. However, if you decide that a slanting, two-dimensional list is the best way to go, you’ll want to make sure that your list of products is accurately formatted. If you’re using an e-commerce tool such as Shopify, you can already setup your products for automated two-dimensional list views – ensuring that each product is presented in the most optimal way for your customers to find what they’re looking for.
With a separate mobile website, you can also take the time to properly geolocate your business. This means that you’ll want to make sure that the address associated with your website matches the physical address of your business. If your website is hosted at a different address than your billing address, you might encounter problems when shipping items to customers. Moreover, if you don’t input your website’s address correctly into your shipping tools, you’ll end up having to hunt down the right information when it comes time to deliver the product. This is an unneeded hassle and a potentially costly mistake if you’re not careful.
Create a Facebook ad for your e-commerce store
With your website and Facebook page set up, it’s time to create a Facebook ad for your e-commerce store. While you could simply copy and paste the HTML from your website, you’ll want to make sure that you enter the proper landing page and vehicle information into the ad. Doing this will allow you to target your ideal audience and show them relevant products – increasing the chance that they’ll make a purchase from your website.
Here’s an example of what a Facebook ad might look like if you were to build a bicycle store:
As you can see here, we’ve added a few bicycle products to our Facebook ad. We’ve opted not to use a carousel because we don’t want to overwhelm our audience with too many products at once. Instead, we’ve decided to use a series of thumbnails to showcase each product’s unique features – something that a plain old carousel couldn’t do. In addition to this, we’ve opted to add a bit of interactivity to our ad by allowing users to click on each individual product to learn more – something that a simple carousel couldn’t do. Moreover, with a carousel, you’d have to create and maintain a separate image for each bicycle model – something that’s a hassle whenever you want to promote a new bicycle.
Partnerships and collaborations
One of Facebook’s grandiose goals for 2019 is to “connect people and ideas for good.” To better serve content to its users and advertisers, Facebook has collaborated with various media companies and news organizations to create short-lived articles that can be accessed quickly across the social media platform.
This content is specifically designed for mobile users – driving traffic to your mobile website – so you’ll want to make sure that all the elements of the page are tuned for a mobile-first experience.
The downsides to Instant Articles
While there are many upsides to Facebook’s new ad platform, there are a few drawbacks as well.