On Tuesday (12 April 2016) Facebook opened up applications to its Instant Articles service to all publishers. I signed up that evening and began the tedious process of setting it up. Since I use WordPress for most of my online publishing, the technical part of creating an IA-friendly RSS feed was easy using this plugin (others are available but I prefer the one with Automattic‘s own name on it!). More difficult was completing all the other steps (and understanding the order in which they needed doing). But, alas, in a 48-hr window I have been approved. So if you read this post on FB’s mobile app, you should get the IA version, a fast-loading, mobile friendly article.
So why bother?
I wanted to experiment since I also manage a fairly large wordpress-based project for my University Research Centre. But more than that, I am opening up to the idea that syndicating my content through various channels—even channels I do not ‘own’—is worth the extra exposure it creates. (Beside Instant Articles, I will soon be syndicating to Medium, at least for a season).
My hesitation is that in participating in IA, I am participating in Facebook’s business model with which I do not entirely agree. From FB’s perspective, IA makes a lot of sense: keep users in the FB ecosystem, give them a better user experience on mobile, and make it really easy to share that content—on FB, anyway.
If my end-goal of writing is impacting readers, then perhaps it justifies the means. Perhaps—the operative word there!