A daily newspaper has begun using a digital tool which allows smartphone users to read its stories in full on Facebook, in what is thought to be a UK regional press first.
The Manchester Evening News has started using the Instant Articles innovation, which has been developed by the social networking site for iOS or Android phone users.
The tool allows people to view full-length articles posted on the MEN’s Facebook page instantly on the Facebook app, rather than a link being opened separately on the paper’s website in a different browser.
Alison Gow, digital innovation editor at Trinity Mirror Regionals, has welcomed the tool’s introduction.
Praising the innovation on her personal blog, Alison, pictured, described it as an “answer to the horrible problem of mobile load hang time for publishers”.
She wrote: “It is, I guess, odd that we rely on a third party to solve a problem we created ourselves with our heavy loading pages but I’m employing my maxim of ‘better to light a candle than curse the darkness’ here.
“After all, the issue of heavy loads isn’t something newsrooms can solve; getting content out and in front of readers is something they are good at, and if the tool exists, use it, I’d say.”
Alison went on to add there had been a “loud and sustained outcry” against the idea of Facebook hosting other publishers’ content on its own platform when the idea had been mentioned at the International Journalism Festival last April.
However, she added: “For what it’s worth, this is why I’d say it is worth trying: Facebook is huge and as an editor I’d want people to read my content and give commercial colleagues the chance to sell into that if they want to.
“If someone is scrolling through content on Facebook and see something interesting the chances are they want to read it there and then and if it takes longer than a couple of seconds to load, your fickle reader is off to the next thing.
“If we can deliver a fast, decent user experience – and a great piece of content – it gives my brand a big tick, with the reader and with Facebook.
“So congratulations to MEN editor Rob Irvine, social media editor Beth Ashton and regionals head of social media Gayle Tomlinson (along with other TM colleagues) for doing a bit of ground-breaking work for regional journalism, and trying something new.
“It’s always a good feeling to be at the forefront of trying new things.”