How to Publish for Facebook Instant Articles

Tutorial by Facebook on FB Developers

Automated Publishing

To provide a reliable Instant Articles experience when readers tap links to your articles on Facebook, an Instant Article version of each article must be created whenever a new article URL is published to your website.

Instant Articles support syndication using a secure RSS feed. This feed can integrate seamlessly with your existing workflow if new stories are automatically syndicated as Instant Articles whenever you publish them from your regular content management system.

You should only publish new stories via your Instant Articles RSS feed when they are also publicly available on your website. The Instant Articles system requires access to each article’s standard web URL to render the content properly.

Detailed guidance on Instant Articles markup conventions is provided in the Instant Articles Format Reference. Here’s how to begin automated publishing:

1. Create an RSS feed

To enable automated publishing of your Instant Articles, configure your content management system to generate an RSS feed which contains the full content of each article in Instant Articles markup.

Each article in this RSS feed must be represented as an <item> and should include a set of elements that contain the article content and all relevant metadata. While not all elements are required, it’s best to include the entire set of elements to provide as much context to your Instant Articles as possible.

2. Connect the RSS feed to your Facebook Page

Specify the RSS feed that will distribute your content to Facebook through the Admin settings for your Facebook Page. From the top of your Page, click Settings, then select Instant Articles from the menu on the left of the screen.

Though optional, we suggest configuring basic authentication (username and password) for your RSS feed and serving it with SSL/TLS (i.e. via HTTPS) if you want your feed to be private.

You can specify a username and password for your feed on the Settings page. Facebook will encrypt and store these internally for use when publishing your content.

You can configure your RSS feed to automatically provide readers on Instant Articles-enabled devices with the content in Instant Article form. Use the auto-publish checkbox to turn this feature on or off. When auto-publish is disabled (unchecked), all new articles received from your RSS feed are stored as unpublished drafts until you manually publish them through your Page admin dashboard.

3. Verify your feed is being ingested properly

Once you’ve connected your RSS feed to your Facebook Page, Facebook will pull stories from your RSS feed into the Instant Articles system. If any errors are found in your RSS feed, they will be displayed on the RSS configuration screen in the settings for your Facebook Page. RSS feed errors must be resolved before proceeding.

If no RSS feed errors are reported, ensure that your articles are populating the Instant Articles library for your Facebook Page. From the top of your Page, click Publishing Tools and then select Instant Articles from the menu on the left of the screen. The Instant Articles library looks like this:

4. Updating published articles

At times you may need to update the content of a previously published article, as in the case of a developing news story. To automatically specify an article that should be updated and republished, its HTML must include the op-published and op-modified <time> elements, and the updated article must be redistributed via your RSS feed.

Facebook pulls your RSS feed every three minutes to determine if any of your Instant Articles content needs to be refreshed. An article will be updated and republished if the op-modified date in article in the RSS feed is more recent than the op-modified date on the existing article in your library.

There are a few limitations to be aware of when it comes to updating articles that have been previously published:

  • Facebook only pulls a maximum of 100 items that are new or modified since the last pull. If you are adding or changing more than 100 items every three minutes, the Instant Articles system will only update the first 100 items, sorted by modified time, with the most recent appearing first.
  • If an update to an existing Instant Article is more than 24 hours old based on its op-modifiedtime, it will be ignored by the pull. For example, if your feed is pulled at 12:00pm on October 8th and an article in your feed with the op-modified time set to 11:59am on October 7th, it will be ignored.

If you attempt to update an existing article through your RSS feed and the update is ignored, Facebook will continue to display the most recent version of the article in the Instant Articles system. Changes to published Instant Articles that are more than one day old can be implemented manually, via the web-based Instant Articles editor tool accessible from your Facebook Page.

Media assets associated with an RSS item will only update if the URL of the media asset has changed.

5. Ensure Facebook Crawler can reach your content

To properly distribute your content to Instant Articles, ensure your content is visible to our crawler. If you normally restrict access to your content, you’ll need to whitelist our crawler. Please refer to ourFacebook Crawler guide for advice on how to identify our crawler and preferred approaches to whitelisting.

Sample RSS feed

This is an example of an RSS 2.0 feed optimized for Instant Articles:

<rss version="2.0"
<title>News Publisher</title>
Read our awesome news, every day.
<title>This is an Instant Article</title>
<author>Mr. Author</author>
<description>This is my first Instant Article. How awesome is this?</description>
(The full content of your article, in HTML form.)

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