Need for Speed: How Facebook Instant Articles are Changing the Web

Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook thinks you’re waiting too long for your news.

This is the premise of their new Instant Articles, which will now feed the New York Times, BuzzFeed, The Guardian and a select set of initial publishers, to readers–loading at a breakneck rate of 0.8 seconds.

Facebook has reported that content posted to the site takes an average of eight seconds to load. This is a serious problem, according to a 2004 study that cites just two seconds as the maximum amount of time mobile users will wait to begin consuming content. Google’s guidance to developers halves that figure, with one second being all the time you have before losing the user’s interest.

Speed kills, as they say, and the 0.8 second page load rate would satisfy consumer demand, even leaving 0.2 seconds of wiggle room leftover. And this is just the beginning.

It probably comes as no surprise, but users are increasingly using mobile devices to consume their content. Not just just news content–all content–and speed is the critical factor as to where they choose to get that content. Unlike the desktop, users are not popping open a web browser and working from there. Instead, they are using dedicated content applications.

Today, that often includes bouncing around a variety of one-off apps. But Facebook is going to change that. And they’re going to change it with speed.

If you can get a diverse and interesting set of content via Facebook, including the latest news, instantly in the app you go to first, every time you light up your phone–why would you go anywhere else?

Given this increasing demand for speed, and Facebook’s plan to satisfy it, content publishers have some work to do, and it starts by asking three questions:

  1. How do I make my content platform/website as fast as possible? Facebook is rapidly raising the bar on what users will expect from your website, particularly as it pertains to page load speeds and mobile-friendly experience.
  2. How do I get my content onto Facebook and make it perform? This is going to increasingly demand that you use Facebook as a publishing, (not simply posting,) platform in your content marketing plan.
  3. How do I build a community on Facebook? You’re going to have to put equal effort into marketing on Facebook, regardless of what business you’re in. Google AdWords is no longer going to be the end all, be all.

Facebook’s announcement of Instant Articles is about so much more than a few news outlets publishing directly on Facebook. It’s about the rapid transformation of content on the web and possibly the very nature of the web users entire experience.

Your business needs to be thinking about its content strategy in this emerging, Facebook-driven world.