“Whenever I share a link on Facebook, the image doesn’t show up!”
I see this all the time from new bloggers and small business owners. You see all the beautiful posts on Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter etc, but you’re struggling to figure out why your links don’t work like theirs. I even get this question from other Website Designers and Developers!
Back before the Facebook was eviscerated over the spread of fake news, you used to be able to add images and even titles after the fact when sharing them on social media. Facebook changed its policy to prevent people from linking to unreliable sources. Now, in order for your website to look “legit” on Facebook, you need to add open graph data or social meta data.
In my experience, if your website isn’t social media optimized, no amount of social media posting or digital outreach is going to help drive visitors to your website. I see a lot of DIY websites or out of the box websites completely neglect social meta data. Even some of the most popular WordPress themes are developed without meta data! So many of the businesses just starting out are being given an unfair disadvantage because customers don’t know how to request social meta data as part of the website build.
So what is social meta data?
There are a lot of different terms that are used to mean the same thing. Sometimes you’ll see it called meta data (my preferred term), you’ll also see it written metadata, meta tags, and in some circles, you’ll hear the terms “Rich Pins”, “Twitter Cards”, or “Open Graph Data”.
All of these different terms refer to the same thing. Basically, it’s a way for one website to understand the content on another website.
For example, a blog post has a title, text, and often some images or videos. Facebook (or any other website) doesn’t know what to do with all that info – or even what it’s allowed to share or not share. Selecting a random image from the site could be risky, for all Facebook knows the first image on the site could be from a banner ad, or it could be an icon that links to another social media account. So rather than taking a random guess, Facebook just doesn’t show anything.
When you add meta data to your site you can tell Facebook exactly what to use, and how to best display your website on their platform.
How can I tell if my website has meta data setup?
The easiest way to tell if your website has meta data is to use the Facebook Debugger. You can try a few links on your website if an image and a title show up – Congratulations, your website has meta data!
If you get an error, or it doesn’t load any images, you need to add social meta data to your website.
Can I add meta data to my website?
If your website doesn’t have meta data, you’ll need to find a way to add it. If you’re a WordPress user, I’ve created a full course on how to add meta data to your website, and how to add optimize your website for social media.
If you hired a website designer/developer to design a website for them as them if they can add social meta data/open graph data to your website. Don’t be too surprised if they don’t know what that is (most designers/developers don’t)- you can send them this article to help explain it.
If you’re using a DIY website builder like SquareSpace, or Shopify do a search in their help forum for “social meta data”, “changing your social share image”, “open graph”. There are usually some tutorials on how to add it to your website.