We all have great content and we love to see it tweeted, liked, pinned, tumbld, and otherwise shared in whichever social media platforms people fancy. These platforms are all getting smarter, and are increasingly doing more to find and distinguish the truly shareworthy stuff that lives at the other end of those shortened URLs.
With just a few easy additions of code to our sites, we have the power to trigger media-rich shares, including nice photos, accurate attribution, and the text snippets of our choosing. These enhanced links can stand out in a monotonous stream of social media updates, compelling readers to click (and/or re-share), and driving more traffic to our sites.
Here are just a few tips for getting webpages to play nicely when shared via social media. They all require the simple addition of a few <meta> tags in the HTML.
1. Open Graph tags (for Facebook & More)
Have you ever linked to a webpage in a Facebook post? Facebook selects a default thumbnail image (which might be something irrelevant like a button icon) and what it thinks is a representative snippet of the content you’d like to share. But you don’t have to leave it up to chance. Facebook created the Open Graph protocol as a standard that any social platform can use to give webpage authors the power to remove the guesswork. FB looks for these tags for guidance, and other tools do as well.
2. Twitter Cards (for Twitter)
With its 140-character limit, it can be hard to tweet a link to a page and also find some free characters to attribute the source or provide a taste of the interesting content. Twitter Cards help solve that problem. In the library, we recently added Twitter Card metadata to all of our digital collections and our blogs. Almost instantly, all tweets linking to our pages were enriched, and the change even enhanced previous tweets retroactively.
3. Rich Pins (for Pinterest)
Pinterest is also on board with using page metadata to enrich shares. It currently supports distinct pins for articles, places, products, movies, and recipes.
How to Add Metadata for Social Media Optimization
You probably don’t want to manually add these <meta> tags to every individual page. But chances are, you’re using a CMS like Drupal or WordPress to manage your website, and if so, you’re in luck. These platforms have plugins and modules available that make this setup a cinch:
- Drupal Metatag Module
- WordPress SEO Plugin (by Yoast)
If you have a sites.duke.edu blog, the WordPress SEO plugin isn’t currently enabled there, but you can request the plugin through this form.
I highly recommend adding this metadata if you can. You could see big improvements in your content’s representation in social media platforms, and it requires only a few simple steps to get it going.