Picture this: You worked really hard to write something amazing. Perhaps it’s an in-depth blog post about something your customers will find useful. Or perhaps it’s a landing page that compellingly outlines your content’s value. You click “publish” and give your teammates a high five. “This will surely bring us many leads,” you tell them.
But when you check Google Analytics a few days after, you find that your content isn’t pulling great traffic. You dig deeper and find that while people find the content useful, they’re not sharing it. In fact, it practically has zero Facebook shares.
For a content marketer, this scenario is pretty much a nightmare. As modern marketers, one of the most crucial things we need to worry about is creating shareable content. A part of that depends on the quality of your content; another part depends on how well you distribute it. But one crucial ingredient that marketers often miss is optimizing their content for social networks. That’s a huge missed opportunity.
This post outlines what you need to know to make your content highly shareable on Facebook. Read on!
What does an optimized Facebook post look like?
So, let’s start with the basics here: what does it mean to optimize your content for Facebook? It’s probably easier to demonstrate what this does not look like, so here’s an example:
Here’s what’s wrong with this post:
1. The picture looks awkward. It looks too long given the lack of description (see #3).
2. The title is cut off.
3. There’s no description.
Compare the post above to this one:
Now, we’re talking. The image takes more space and looks more attractive (1). You see the full title (2), and there’s a description included for additional click bait (3).
Why optimize for Facebook
Ideally, all your content, when posted to Facebook, will look more similar to the second example than the first. Optimizing your content for Facebook is important because it remains the most popular social network. For many publishers (and brand publishers), Facebook is the number one source of traffic online.
From a marketing perspective, here are some benefits of optimizing your content for Facebook:
1. It increases click through rates (CTRs). Having an enticing headline, a great image and a succinct and relevant description could help you get more clicks.
2. It encourages sharing. When people want to share your content on Facebook and the site doesn’t render an image or a compelling headline, they may not share it at all. You don’t want that.
3. It facilitates re-sharing. Similar to point #1 and #2, when a post looks great on Facebook, people are more likely to click “like” and “share,” increasing your chances of getting seen by more people.
What is Facebook Open Graph and How Can It Help You Optimize Your Content?
An understanding of Facebook’s Open Graph can hep you control what people see on their newsfeed when they share your content. But what is Open Graph? Here’s a helpful definition from KissMetrics:
It promotes integration between Facebook and other websites by allowing them to become rich “graph” objects with the same functionality as other Facebook objects.
Put simply, a degree of control is possible over how information travels from a third-party website to Facebook when a page is shared (or liked, etc.). In order to make this possible, information is sent via Open Graph meta tags in the <head> part of the website’s code.
Put even more simply, Open Graph is a type of meta data that tells Facebook which image, title and description to show in the preview when people share your content. If, for example, you don’t specify an image in the Open Graph, Facebook might pull a random image from your site, or, worse, pull nothing at all.
So how do you control your content’s Open Graph? Essentially, you need to put the code under the <head> part of your HTML. If you don’t control that section of your site or if you don’t know how to code, just ask your web developer to do it for you. Facebook has detailed information for developers on its website.
If you’re using WordPress, there’s an easier way of optimizing your Open Graph information. Simply install the WordPress SEO by Yoast plug-in. Once installed, do the following:
1. Click the “SEO” link at the right-hand side of your dashboard.
2. Click “Social.”
3. Select “Add Open Graph Meta Data.”
Once you’ve done this, you’ll see a “Social” tab under the WordPress SEO by Yoast section of your posts from the admin side. Fill out these fields, including the image.
Testing your content for Facebook sharing
Once you’ve made sure that all your open graph information is filled in, you’d want to test your content. One way of doing that is by directly sharing on Facebook, where you’ll see a preview of how the content will look like in people’s newsfeed.
Another way of doing it is by using the Facebook Debugger Tool. This nifty page “allows you to scrape and see how your website or blog will appear when someone shares your content on Facebook.” It also lets you refresh the cache to make sure Facebook pulls the updated Open Graph information.
To use the Facebook Debugger Tool:
1. Go to this page: https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/
2. Click “Debug.” You’ll see a preview of how your page renders on the Facebook newsfeed.
3. If the preview shows that you’re missing some fields, go back to your page and make sure all the Open Graph info is in place. Once you’ve done that, click “Fetch new scrape information” in the Facebook Debugger Tool.
When it comes to distributing and finding audience for your content, you can’t afford to ignore Facebook given its ubiquity. It’s imperative that as content marketing pros, we optimize for this network every time. As I’ve outlined in this post, it’s pretty easy–you just need to take a few minutes to make sure that Facebook pulls the right info and image.
What other tips do you have when it comes to optimizing for Facebook? Share your comments with me below!