Facebook’s Instant Articles opened up to all publishers nearly a year ago, but the mobile viewing product was very much read-only. Publishers didn’t really have a native way to support converting readers into something more, like subscribers. On Friday, the social media company launched call-to-action units with the goal of providing a “more direct line of communication” between the publisher and the reader.
The call-to-action units are being rolled out starting next week to Instant Articles and can be created through what Facebook calls “a simple, self-service creation flow” and also can monitor conversions through a tracking dashboard.
Publishers have at least two action items they can choose from, including signing up for email and liking the outlet’s page, but there are others in the works. Facebook teased that in the future, publishers could add free trial or mobile app install call-to-action units.
“We recognize that publisher business models are diverse, and we’re continuing to collaborate with the industry to identify and develop new call-to-action units to deepen relationships and form new connections between people and publishers,” explained product manager Josh Roberts in the blog post.
Similar to Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project, Instant Articles is a means by which publishers can accommodate their content to the mobile screen. As people consume articles and stories during the day, a major friction point is having a site that’s not mobile-optimized — and we all know the ones where we have to pinch-to-zoom just to read the stories. But unlike Google, Instant Articles is applicable mainly for content shared and found on the world’s largest social network.
Instant Articles has been billed as giving readers a faster experience to consume content, in addition to giving publishers more interactive features to “bring their stories to life in new ways,” according to Facebook product manager Michael Reckhow in a May 2015 blog post.
As readers consume this content, it could come from the same publisher or multiple ones. But until now there’s been a lack of features that allow media outlets to do more to reach people. In a way, the new call-to-action units follow the same route as what Facebook did with Pages to help businesses better engage with their customers.
The company said that prior to today’s launch, more than 100 publishers had signed up for its call-to-action beta program.