Instant Articles Could Provide Instant Opportunity for City & Regional Publishers
Many publishers have April 12th circled on their calendars. Reason being is that day presents the next big opportunities for publishers to expand their brand when Facebook opens its Instant Articles platform to everyone.
Publishers are anxious to get more eyeballs on their content. So, when the social media giant recently announced all publishers will be able to post content natively on Facebook, which now boasts nearly 1.6 billion monthly users, many publishers were salivating at the possible exposure for their brand.
"Do I think there is an opportunity? I do. Do I understand what that opportunity is today? I don't," said Mike Shoemaker, president of Cities West Publishing, which produces two city/regional magazines. "It's about trying to expand your message and potential reach to new readers. It's a way to put your brand out there. It's a hook. You're casting a line and hoping to bring people in."
So, what does this mean for city and niche publishers? Early returns for some of the national publishers using Instant Articles indicate increased readership of their content and an increase in traffic on their on web sites, presumably from the exposure on Facebook. Some publishers are also seeing new revenue generated through the advertising opportunities on Instant Articles.
Only time will tell if city and niche publishers can enjoy similar results but there are a couple of factors working in their favor. First, a recent study by The Wibbitz Newsroom said 76% of consumers chose Facebook as their favorite social media platform for news.
Secondly, Facebook's user base is both growing and getting older. According to Statista, as of January 2016, 42% of Facebook's users were 40 or older, which matches the leading demographic for most city magazines.
"I'm intrigued by Facebook because I know a lot of older people are still on there," Shoemaker said. "Younger people aren't on it as much. So as far as the demographics go, it feeds into our primary reader demographic, which is why I'm interested in it."
Yes, publishers are giving away content in exchange for the hope of attracting more eyeballs while helping Facebook succeed in building one of its many features geared toward digital dominance but many are expected to believe the trade off is worth it.
One interesting development to follow is if Facebook decides to prioritize the Instant Articles content in user News Feeds like they recently began doing with Facebook Live streams. Publishers have been victimized by fool's gold before with Apple's severely lackluster promotion and development of Newsstand, so any moderate expectations are understandable.
April 12th marks the first day of figuring out if the time and resources needed to take advantage of this opportunity produce enough return on their investment for publishers or if the always evolving social-media landscape only offers a short-term fix. Either way, the potential exposure on Facebook and its massive worldwide user base will likely prove too valuable to turn down.
Ron Matejko is the President of Phoenix, Ariz.-based MVP Media, an award-winning digital publishing company. Matejko has 16 years of publishing experience in print, Web and mobile and has worked on the staff of two award-winning publications.
MVP Media publishes MVP Magazine, the first interactive sports publication, which won a Bronze 2010 Digital Magazine Award for Best Sports Magazine, besting entrants from 26 countries around the world, and was a finalist for Designer of the Year. MVP Media will launch its own magazines on the iPad in 2011.
MVP Media also helps existing publishers convert their print products into dynamic publications for the web and tablets. Visit the MVP Magazine website at www.mvptoday.com. Contact Ron by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with him on LinkedIn or on Twitter @mvp_media.