screen_fastOn April 12 at Facebook’s F8 conference, the world’s largest social media network will announce the release of its much-anticipated “Instant Articles” feature to all Facebook Pages. Up to this point, Instant Articles have only been available to select publishers, such as National Geographic, BuzzFeed, The New York Times, and MTV, among others. (Read all about Instant Articles on Facebook, or watch the video below.)

Instant Articles are interactive, multi-dimensional articles within the Facebook app. With load times up to 10x faster than standard articles on the mobile web and exciting (but non-distracting) features, Instant Articles seems to be a fantastic way for brands to engage with their audiences. (A few features we love: users can zoom in on a photo and then tilt their device to see parts of the photo in detail; audio versions of articles available; photos can be geo-tagged and viewed on a map.)

What FB’s Instant Articles Tell Us About the Future of Content
Facebook’s Instant Articles are indicative of some important developments in content delivery/consumption and social media.

#1 Mobile-Only Features
Facebook’s Instant Articles are only available on mobile devices. If your first reaction is, “Oh, so this is a secondary feature,” think again. As we’ve been discussing recently on the BuzzPlant Blog, mobile isn’t “second-best” or the device you use when you’re away from your computer. Mobile is the platform. As of recently, the majority of Facebook users access the network exclusively from a mobile device. (And, of course, in addition to that figure of 51.7%, there are plenty of users who access Facebook from both their mobile device and their desktop.)

#2 Load Time Is Everything
Instant Articles are designed to load up to 10x faster than standard articles on the mobile web. Facebook knows that attention spans are short, and in order to connect users with content, load times have to be fast and snappy.

#3 Video Should Be Tied Into Everything
Content is shifting toward video. It’s becoming more affordable for brands, and more accepted by users. (Remember, Facebook averages 8 billion video views a day; Snapchat averages 6 billion video views a day. People love video.) Now, video is being delivered at the speeds necessary to keep users engaged. From live-streaming on Facebook, Periscope, and elsewhere to new 360º technology, video has become the medium for delivering content.

#4 We’re Transitioning from Browser-Based to App-Based Experiences
Facebook wants to become “the internet,” so to speak. By placing high quality, relevant articles inside the platform, there’s no need to go read the Nat Geo blog or to search Google, for example. You can get a faster, streamlined experience that’s every bit as rich right within your Facebook app. Already, we are seeing the need for traditional mobile browsers diminishing. Users are experiencing the world through apps. Furthermore, social is becoming the new search through which people discover and consume content.

Want More Information on Instant Articles?
You can check out Facebook for Developers’ FAQ page about Instant Articles or read about how to markup Instant Articles (which must be hosted on your website… though they display natively on Facebook, they are not published natively on Facebook). Have more questions about using Instant Articles for your brand? Leave a comment here, and we’ll see if we can help you get ready for April 12!