How to Add Facebook Instant Articles to WordPress – Step by Step Tutorial
If you are interested in Facebook Instant Articles, you may consider applying them on your WordPress site. We can help you to understand how it works and to grasp the core information needed to get along with it. But first, let us show you how to set Facebook Instant Articles up. As you can see here in this tutorial, this is really no big deal.
First, let’s learn more about Facebook Instant Articles
Instant Articles is something very similar to Facebook apps which are usually used by many people on their phones. It’s a simple feature with the benefit of loading content much faster for you. With this speed boost, Instant Articles makes life easier for mobile phone users. Many well-known sites are using it, thus making it more user friendly for their readers. Just check out your Facebook feed and search for a lightning bolt sign and you will surely find it.
Some important notes about Facebook Instant Articles
It’s time to discuss the pros and cons of using this feature on your site. Since you get your content faster, this is definitely a feature which can save you some time. With this speed improvement, other users are more tempted to share your content. There are also some monetization alternatives with the Facebook Audience Network. Not to mention that the Facebook Page Reaching is boosted which is great. By utilizing Facebook’s user base, your traffic will surely get better than before.
Facebook Instant Articles is fine, but there are some cons you need to consider. It will hide everything except your article, including widgets, sidebars and email lists. If you want to use Facebook Instant Articles, you should take into account that the number of ads and advertisers are limited as well. You also can’t put as many videos and images into your article. And the last but not least, if you have some WordPress features in your article like custom fields, shortcodes and stuff like that, don’t be surprised if they disappear with Facebook Instant Articles.
Overall, it depends on your style and the business goals you want to attain. If you are doing it for the business, then it may not be a huge boost for you. But if you are publishing news, then it’s much more reasonable.
The Requirements of Facebook Instant Articles
To set up Facebook Instant Articles on WordPress, you need a few things. First things first, a Facebook page is required for your WordPress website. We will show you how to create a Facebook page app, which is also necessary. You will need at least 10 articles on your site to begin with. And we will talk about how to install the Instant Articles for WP plugin later in this article.
With that said, let’s begin the process.
Singing up for Facebook Instant Articles
Find the Facebook Instant Articles website and there will be a sign up button. Click it, and then you need to select a page. After selecting the Facebook page, agree with the Instant Articles terms by checking the box. Now click on Access Instant Articles Tools. If your Facebook page’s publisher tools appear, you are on the right track. It has an Instant Articles selection. The next step is to claim the URL of your website, thus proving the ownership of your site.
Scroll down on the page and you will see the Tools section and there will be a Claim your URL option. It will expand your URL and a code snippet will be shown by Facebook. Just insert this code in your <head> section of your WordPress website.
This can be done in two ways. The first one is to edit your header.php file in the child theme, and put this code before the <head> part. However, if you don’t have a child theme, then you can use a plugin called Insert Headers and Footers (download it here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/insert-headers-and-footers/) . You need to install this plugin to be able to add the code. In the plugin, you go to the Settings >> Insert Headers and Footers and you will see the header section. Paste your code there.
Click Save to store your progress. The next step after adding the code is to go back to the publisher tools section on your Facebook page. Now you can add your website URL below the code you put there previously to be able to click the claim URL button.
Your website also needs an Instant Articles RSS feed. At this point, we will show you how to create an Instant Articles feed for your site. Just add /feed/instant-articles after the URL of your site like this: http://www.yoursitesurl.com/feed/instant-articles. Now, when the instant articles feed URL is ready, copy it and go back to the publishing tools section of the Facebook page.
Find the Tools section again and you will see Production RSS Feed. Click on it to expand the feed. You need to paste your Instant Articles feed URL right there and don’t forget to click Save to save the changes.
Set up your Facebook Instant Articles plugin for WordPress
As the Instant Articles for WP plugin is installed, RSS feed for instant articles is now functioning. From now on, we will set up the rest of the settings for this plugin. Take a look at your WordPress admin bar. The plugin is working, which means that it added a menu item called ‘Instant Articles’ to your admin bar. Click on it to be able to change the plugin settings.
As you can see there, the plugin needs an App ID and Secret keys. Without those, you can’t activate it. You can get those keys by creating a Facebook app for your site. In the next step we will show you how to do that.
You need to create a Facebook App for Your Page
There is a cool website called Facebook for Developers (website: https://developers.facebook.com/) . Check it out and search for a drop down menu on the upper right corner next to the My Apps menu which is also next to your profile photo. Click on Website after the popup. By doing that, you will open a setup wizard but don’t worry, it won’t take long.
Type a name for your Facebook app. It’s important to remember it. Now go on by clicking on Create New Facebook App ID button. Choose the Apps for Pages category for your app, add your email address and then click Create App ID to finish. At this point, Facebook creates an app for you.
New information will appear about how to use it. Scroll down, and you can see the Tell us about your website section. Your WordPress website address belongs here. Although Facebook indicates that there are more steps, it doesn’t matter because that’s all the information you needed to enter.
At the top right corner, there is a Skip quick start button. By clicking it, the app will show you a dashboard which contains your App ID and App secret key. Just click on the Show button. Don’t rush to copy these keys, because the next step is to make your application live and available for the public.
In the menu on your left, click App Review. The app is under development mode now, as the screen says. Just switch it to Yes to make it live.
Go back to your dashboard by selecting it in the column to your left. Now you can finally add your App ID and Secret keys. Copy them and switch to your Instant Articles for WP plugin settings page on your WordPress website and paste them there. Just hit the next button to continue.
In the settings page of your plugin there will be a Login with Facebook button from now on. This can take you to Facebook by asking permission to some profile information first. If you accept that, it will redirect you right back to your WordPress site. With the Select Page menu, you can select your Facebook page.
There are only two more steps left, but we are almost done.
Branding and Style for Instant Articles
When you are on your Facebook page, click on Publishing Tools. You can find this option at the admin bar. A menu will appear on the left. Under Instant Articles, you will find the Configuration button. Click on it, and then after scrolling down to the Tools section, click on the Style tab.
Of course, Facebook already added a default style, but you can always customize it. You can also upload your website logo there. Find a picture which is 690 by 132 pixels or higher, Save the changes and click Done.
You can submit your Instant Articles Feed for Review
You can only submit your Instant Articles Feed for review if you have 10 or more articles in your feed. If you already have the required number, but some of them are missing in the feed, then just edit your articles and update them. So it’s important to first make sure that you have enough articles to be able to submit them to Facebook.
On your Facebook page, click on Publishing tools which is available from the admin bar. Now click on the Configuration link on your left. There you can find Step 2: Submit for Review on the configuration settings page. Then it will check for errors and hopefully you will see a Submit for Review button. Apply your feed for review with this button. And this is all what is required for Instant Articles to be available for your website. Facebook reviews your feed, approves it and it’s finally on.
Your Instant Articles feed should match some strict specifications described on Facebook’s developer website. But don’t worry the Instant Articles for WP plugin makes it sure that all requirements are met. However, some errors or warnings might appear because of the theme or plugins you are using on your site.
It’s easy to troubleshoot these errors, just scroll down to the Facebook Instant Articles meta box. It’s right below the post editor. The problem is mostly caused by plugins or themes which are not supported by certain transformer rules used by Instant Articles for WP plugin.
Try to create your own transformer rules. Check out the plugin’s documentation to figure out how to add some custom transformer rules. Although it can be difficult for beginners, you can always contact a developer for help. Also, try to configure your other plugins and themes. Make your posts better by restraining content blocks.
Incorrect URLs can also be a problem. Always check if the URL is correct, or otherwise you may constantly get the Empty Feed error when submitting your Instant Articles feed. Check these out:
These URLs are different, so entering the wrong one may result in a 404 error. Of course, it also depends on your WordPress setup. Still seeing the empty feed error? Try updating the posts. It’s enough to update the last 10 of them. This way you can change their time modified, thus they will be added to the feed.