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Troy

One Cool Facebook Tool You Must Use To Improve Engagement

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Have you ever shared a link from a page on your website to Facebook, and have you wondered how Facebook chose the image used? You can control the image used when anyone shares a link from your site onto Facebook. You can even use an image specifically designed for Facebook—even one not used on the web page itself.  

The links I share on Facebook are selected with thought or are crafted in such in a way to increase the likelihood a reader will click the link and visit our web site.  In order to help accomplish this I take advantage of Facebook’s Open Graph Debugger Tool.

Facebook's debugger allows you to confirm that the web pages your visitors share on Facebook, displays the image and text you choose in advance.  The default text and image are defined on the web page. WordPress makes it easy to select the default images and text for social sharing.  Custom built websites, like AALBC.com, must ensure meta tags are used properly. Facebook's debugger tool makes it easy to check that your web pages will share your web page's information exactly the way you want.

Facebook's debugger interface is easy to use and the information provided is quite detailed.  You are also provided with documentation to help make any necessary adjustments. 

Below is a screen shot of my List of Authors on AALBC.com page.  Facebook's social sharing preview allows you to review what the post will look like before anyone shares the page.  The screenshot below is actually a snapshot 19 hours after the page was originally shared. As you can see from the preview, this Facebook post was liked, shared, or commented on 2,570 times, in 19 hours.  In this case, the image I'm using does not even appear on the web page.  I created this image specifically for social sharing, optimizing the dimensions, and even considering the authors used in the preview.

If you do not specify an image, Facebook and other social platforms will just pick any image on the page. Why take this chance when it is so easy to control.  In Facebook's case, they look for images that are a minimum of 200px by 200px. So even if you do specify a specific image, Facebook may choose not to use it. The optimal image size is 1,200px by 630px. An image with those dimensions will ensure that will be as large as possible on Facebook's feed.

sharing-facebook-author-page.jpg

Again, you can may use this tool to as an analytical tool to review your Facebook posts over time.  Below is a screen from a Facebook post made in February, which links to our Top 100+ Recommended African-American Children’s Books page. This page was liked, shared, or commented on over 35,000 times, since it was originally posted in February 2016.

Of course it is nice to get this much engagement on Facebook, but my primary metric for success of a post is how many readers click the link and visit my site as a result. If you'd like to check it out I have published an analysis of the traffic generated as a result of this post.

image003.png

Another benefit of this tool is that it can be used to check the URL's of other websites for comparison purposes.  I've observed most indie websites pay little attention to the details revealed by the Facebook debugger tool.  This is unfortunate, because this decreases the likelihood readers will click on your link and leave Facebook to visit your web site.  It also hurts a web site's search engine rankings, which is even more important than Facebook engagement for content creators, like bloggers.

Final Notes:

  • I'm strongly against using Facebook as one's primary platform or the web, or even publishing content there.  The only thing I publish on Facebook are links back to this site, with tweet length text and an image to accompany it.  This articles describes my process for posting links on Facebook.
  • The social sharing capability of the software running this discussion forum is limited in capability, so one does not have the ability to set a default image for social sharing. Normally I would have created a webpage, or blog post, for an article like this, but I want to collect this type of information in the Bloggers Helping Blogger Forum.
  • I did not go into the specific details of how to actually set the default images and text.  But it is pretty simple: in WordPress one simply utilizes the "SEO Settings" at the bottom of the page.  For custom sites, one uses the Open Graph meta tags. Here are some Open Graph meta tag examples I use with my Web Design course.
  • I just took a look at the number of visitors from Facebook to the link for the Author List Page.  As of 6:30 p.m. June 27th there were 1,675 visitors from Facebook based upon 2,576 comments, shared, and likes. This is a very high ratio of engagement to visitors for my Facebook posts.
  • Facebook changes rapidly.  Their debugger tool can change, or even go away tomorrow.  However the strategies still hold and should still be used, even without Facebook's debugger.  If you are a webmaster proper use of meta tags is crucial for a site's ability to be discovered.

As always the mantra remains unchanged; “Use Facebook, Don't Let Facebook Use You.”

 

 

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