- Daniel Rae
The importance of meta data to social media
One of the main uses of social networks is to share links to websites, pages, blogs, product pages, and more. I guarantee everyone reading this post has clicked a link to an article on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn in the last week or so. In fact, you probably got here by clicking a link on a social network.
Sharing links to pages on your website is easy – just copy the link, paste it into a post and hit publish. Bombs away!
However, you should be mindful of is how link previews are generated. Facebook and LinkedIn will “scrape” your website for information to put in those previews – the title, description and a preview image. Facebook also prevents you from editing link previews as part of it’s ongoing battle to eliminate ‘fake news’, whereas LinkedIn lets you edit away.
Twitter won’t give you any preview unless you prompt it to with website metadata – more on that later.
If your audience ends up with a generic title, or a title that doesn’t relate to the content on the page, or if the image is stretched, cropped or again, not relevant to the page, people will likely (and rightly) be put off clicking the link. Which of the following posts would you trust most?
Good Metadata – Suitable image, article title and article source are visible
Bad Metadata – No webpage title (defaults to page URL), no preview image
Which of the above link posts would you trust more?
And while no metadata doesn’t look all that bad on Twitter – you just see a URL with no “card” preview - you’ve got to admit that the preview does look nicer and more enticing to click.
Good Metadata – preview image, description and source
Bad metadata – just a URL…
So how do we get those nice preview links on social media?
It’s all about the code. In this day and age, most websites are powered by a Content Management System (CMS) and decent systems should already have some built-in fields for metadata that page editors can populate.
But if your CMS doesn’t have this, your web pages need to contain some code that tells social networks what the intended title, description, preview image and type of page it’s seeing when a link is entered.
Facebook (and LinkedIn) use the standard “OpenGraph” protocol and Facebook has it’s own handy guide for web masters. Twitter uses its own “Twitter Card” metadata, which is based on OpenGraph.
In an ideal world, when people create web content using a CMS, they’ll complete fields for metadata that will make link previews look nice and should play a role in encouraging people to click through to your website. Obviously factors like brand recognition, promotion and the quality of content play a bigger role in whether people click through to your website or not, but having well-formed metadata can play a small role in increasing clicks and engagement too.
What else can I do to optimise my website for social media?
Social Share Buttons
Ultimately, if you spend time writing web copy or blog posts, you want people to read them! And what better way to encourage people to visit your site than someone sharing your content on social media?
Well, make it easy for people, include share buttons on content you want people to share. If you don’t ask, you might not get! People can obviously copy and paste a URL into their chosen social network, but share buttons make it obvious you want your content shared.
And for Twitter, you can even pre-populate the share text, influencing what people say about your page.
Live Social Updates
If you (or your business) is active on social media, why not use a live feed to pull in updates from your Facebook Page, LinkedIn Page, Twitter Account, Instagram… or a single stream of activity from all channels?
Live social updates help to keep your website fresh and up-to-date and can lessen the requirement for regular news and blog updates.
Got a question about social media metadata or optimising your website for social? Get in touch.