Facebook is making it easier for readers to read and share articles in its Messenger App, helping publishers who have seen declines in traffic from the social media giant.
Facebook recently added its Instant Articles quick loading feature to its favorite Messenger app, a move designed to improve user experience and a welcome development to publishers who recently learned the company was changing its algorithm to prioritize user posts over publishers’ posts. Many publishers have seen traffic from the social network drop in recent months, but the new feature may encourage users to share more articles within Messenger.
Instant Articles for Messenger will start working with mobile devices using Android operating systems first and will expand to iPhone and iOS in the next few weeks. The feature allows for articles to be viewed “instantly” within the Messenger app, as opposed to loading on the device’s web browser. Facebook said the materials would load 10x faster than they used to on mobile web browsers.
Facebook has some positive statistics for publishers hoping to use Instant Articles. In addition to faster load times, Facebook said that on average users read 20 percent more Instant Articles than when articles open in a new window and that users reading Instant Articles are 70 percent less likely to leave the article before finishing.
To appeal to publishers, Facebook also offers some features to Instant Articles. Publishers can create stories that are interactive and immersive, with autoplay videos, interactive maps, and expandable photos. Expanding Facebook’s Instant Articles technology to Messenger will help users and publishers because articles will open the app and load much faster because the publisher content is hosted on Facebook’s platform.
The integration should be welcome news to publishers who have become reliant on Facebook as a major source of traffic. A recent analysis of publishers’ Facebook post-performance has shown a significant decline in publisher post interactions and impressions. The study quantified the loss at a 42 percent drop in reach per post. And a survey from SimilarWeb earlier this month found that of the 300 biggest publishers on Facebook, 139 have seen traffic from the social network decline between 2016 and 2017.
Many of these declines came before Facebook’s recent algorithm changes that emphasize user posts over publisher posts. The difference in algorithm was justified as the company sticking to its mission of connecting people and sharing the stories that matter to them, not necessarily to publishers. The addition of Instant Articles to Messenger is designed to improve the user experience, making it easier for users to access and share articles within the app.
Luckily for publishers, this user-focused update helps them as much as users, as opposed to the recent algorithm change. Messenger has more than 900 million monthly users, and Facebook has been releasing many updates to the app to try and encourage greater use. This means that the addition of user-friendly Instant Articles to Messenger, they are already popular on Facebook, could help publishers make up for some of the lost traffic.