Did you notice a change this month in how your posts look on Facebook? If you typically adjust the copy and images on web links when you post to Facebook, and are noticing those options are no longer there, then you’ve been caught in the crossfire of Facebook’s war on fake news.
How it Used to Work
When you posted a link to your website on Facebook, you had an option to change the photos and text for the post if you didn’t like what popped up. Unfortunately people abused this feature leading to all sorts of misleading images and “click-bait” style headlines being attached to news articles and other content,. That is what we now know as Fake News.
How it Works Now
Now Facebook auto-generates the headline and copy from the web page or article, without the option to manually change them. However, that doesn’t mean your content strategy is dead. There are steps you can take to get current and work within Facebook’s new system.
What You Can Do
Facebook pulls the information for the posts you create much the same way that Google does when your site shows up in search results. And just like you can optimize your site for search engines, you can optimize the appearance of your links on social media.
There is code that can be added to the back end of your web site to tell Facebook (and other social platforms) which copy and image to use. This code can be preset for the entire website (for example, to pull the top image, or to pull the logo). Or it can be customized on each page, by specifying which image you would like used from a particular page or post (it could be the top image, one from a gallery or one further down the page).
The same kinds of options exist for the copy. You may want to pull in the page title or the headline or the subhead or the first paragraph. Or maybe you want to be able to specify it from page to page.
You have the control to do this, but it isn’t something that you will do through Facebook, it’s something that you will do by updating the code on your website.
Facebook is Just the Start
Facebook led the charge against fake news and they know its affecting legitimate businesses.
“By removing the ability to customize link metadata (i.e. headline, description, image) from all link sharing entry points on Facebook, we are eliminating a channel that has been abused to post false news. We also understand that many publishers have workflows that rely on overwriting link preview metadata to customize how their content appears to audiences on Facebook. We’re committed to a solution that supports them.”
-Facebook Developer Blog
But it’s only a matter of time until other social media platforms like LinkedIn or even Pinterest start putting in these types of restrictions to fight against the spread of fake news. So now’s the time to adjust your strategy . Don’t get caught with bad images and copy on your social links.
Not Sure if This Will Affect Your Business?
- Do you promote content from your site such as blog posts, news articles or key pages?
- Do you use paid social advertising to direct traffic to your website?
- Do you have events that you share or promote via social media?
- Do you have a social media strategy, or plan to build one in the future?
- Do you use PR services that promote your company in the news?
- Do you or any key members of your business write guest Op-Eds, blogs or other pieces of content for other sites?
- Do other people or businesses regularly link to your website on social media?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your business is going to be affected by these changes.
Whether you’re building a new website, or just managing your current one, you should always have a knowledgeable web partner. Firms which aren’t used to providing technical website updates might not know how to make the back end changes that you’ll need to stay up to date with this changing landscape, or how to give the level of control you need from page to page.
If you need any help with your website or social media marketing, please contact us for more information.