This week we spoke about what Facebook Instant Articles were and should you consider using them for your blog. You can read that post here. With the answer being a solid yes, today we are going to look at how you go about setting Instant Articles up for your blog.
There are two ways I would recommend enabling Instant Articles between WordPress and Facebook at the moment. Lets start by looking at the Facebook plugin.
Download and install the plugin.
The Facebook Instant Article plugin can be installed right now from Github. It will also be added to the WordPress directory soon if it has not been added at the time of writing this article. Start by downloading the ZIP file.
Once you have downloaded from Github you will need to install the plugin to WordPress. Head over to plugins in your WordPress CP and select “Add New.” We are going to install the plugin manually by directly uploading it to WordPress. Of course, if the plugin has appeared in the directory by the time you are reading this article then you can simply install direct from there.
When you select the “Add New” option you will be taken to the Add Plugins page. Hit the “Upload Plugin” button and select the file on your computer to upload. Remember, the file must be in ZIP format when you upload it, otherwise the plugin upload will fail.
When you install the plugin a new type of feed will be added to your side with an address in the form of, /?feed=instant-articles or /feed/instant-articles. This feed is similar to RSS but it includes extra data and markup required by Facebook’s specification.
You can check the feed is working by visiting [your blog domain]/feed/instant-articles.
Connect the RSS feed to your Facebook Page.
Now you need to connect the new RSS feed to your Facebook Page. Go to the Admin settings for your Facebook Page and then select Instant Articles which will be located in the menu on the left hand side of the screen.
From the Instant Articles setting you can add your RSS feed and submit it to Facebook for review. Facebook will then verify that all the Instant Articles generated from your website are properly formatted and adhere to community standards before you can start publishing content to the platform.
Once the feed has been approved all new articles from the RSS feed will be automatically provided to readers on Instant Article enabled devices with content in Instant Article form.
You can turn off automatic publishing by checking the “Import all articles as drafts” checkbox, this will ensure new articles from the feed are stored as drafts and you can control when they actually go live.
Facebook Instant Articles & Google AMP Pages by PageFrog.
A different plugin I would recommend is by a developer team called PageFrog. You can find this plugin by simply searching for “Instant Articles” in the plugin page.
Install and activate the plugin, then it will walk you through some simple setup steps and you will see content being added to your Instant Article library on completion. The plugin also supports Google AMP and support for Apple News is on the way. It is another alternative that is great and really easy to use if you are struggling with the above plugin which tends to be a bit of trial and error.
So how easy is the whole process?
Well it is easy to follow the steps and easy to do, however it seems to be a bit temperamental when setting up the plugin. A frequent problem I encountered for the best part of almost a day was the following:
General Errors: Empty Instant Article: The Instant Article does not have any content.
Despite the fact that the articles had content there and I was not the only one suffering. It seemed to be a common problem on the WordPress Support Forum. It can take a bit of trial and error to get it up and running so as a result it can be a bit of a frustrating experience depending on how little patience you have.
Stick with it though because it is well worth the pain you may potentially suffer trying to set it up. As I mention above, if you are really struggling then revert to the PageFrog plugin (or maybe even just start with that one) as it is really user friendly and very easy to setup. This was the plugin I have decided to use myself, either way gives you the same result in the end.
When you start using Instant Articles you will not be able to start publishing them straight away. You will need to wait until you get to 50 articles and then submit them for review to Facebook in your Admin settings. Once Facebook approves then you will be able to publish Instant Articles then and there.
There you have it, once you are done you can enjoy the power of Instant Articles.