What Facebook’s Instant Articles mean for your organisation

Yesterday Facebook announced a new initiative that will transform the way we consume information online. Whether you realise it or not, this is big news for you, your organisation and your brand.

You will soon start to notice that the newsfeed stories you click on from your favourite newspapers and magazines won’t take you away to a familiar website. Instead you’ll be seamlessly transported to a slick new interface packed with fun interactive elements. While digesting your article, you’ll be able to zoom in and explore photos with a simple phone tilt, watch videos come to life as you scroll, move around interactive maps, listen to audio captions and even like and comment on individual sections of editorial.

These posts, called ‘Instant Articles’, run within your Facebook app and, aside from all the these fun new function, come with the added promises that they will load 10x faster than the current system.

I appreciate this may sound like the next step in Facebook’s bid for world domination or simply another blow for print media, but it is so much more. It is a further leap in the way people will expect to receive and consume information online and signal that if brands and organisation want to make an impact with their audiences, they need to start thinking and behaving more like media companies. (this sound bite is far from original, by the way — check out this guys work.)

If brands want to make an impact, they need to start thinking and behaving like media companies

Allow me to explain.

At the moment, ‘Instant Articles’ is only available to select publishers. BBC News, BuzzFeed, The Guardian and the New York Times etc, but what happens when they become available for organisations?

Those who are already communicating with their stakeholders by creating effective content will be catapulted to new heights, quick to respond to the new opportunities with the creative systems to produce videos, articles, imagery or audio in place. Everyone else will risk falling further behind.

Put simply, if we want our customers and patients to stick around long enough to hear what we have to say, we have to give them a compelling reason to do so, earning the slice of their attention which they gift to us and using it intelligently. This is done by adding value to their day. Helping them solve a problem, being a source of useful info, entertaining them or provoking thoughtful debate. If you do this effectively, you are invited to make a connection, a connection can be anything from a simple introduction, a sales pitch or a step towards positive behaviour change.

There are many ways to do this already and Facebook’s Instant Articles will soon be up there with the most effective*.

I’ll say it again because it’s so important. Brands and organisation need to start thinking and behaving like media companies and if now is not the time to get ahead and start curating your own brand story, communicating with your audience directly, when is?

* Just as Facebook’s native video application, launched earlier this year, is already deliver real results and proving the impact it can make.

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