No more link preview changes?
If you manage social media, you’ve likely noticed a major change. Facebook just announced that it will no longer allow users to modify metadata on linked posts.
What is metadata? It’s the coding behind the scenes on every webpage, which tells crawlers (like Google) what that page is about. Facebook pulls metadata when you post a link to the website, to populate post images and headlines. Until now, when social media managers copied a link into a Facebook post and a preview popped up, one had the power to insert a better image or improve the headline.
Facebook says this change will help reduce fake news by ensuring images and headlines match linked posts. But we can’t help feeling a little panicked, like Margaery on the Game of Thrones finale last season:
We’re annoyed, because Facebook’s metadata change limits our ability to edit post images, headlines, and descriptions — something we do every day to make posts more compelling and clickable as people scroll through their news feeds. No, the Sept of Baelor isn’t on the verge of exploding, but for social media managers, it may feel that way.
Read our FAQ to help you navigate the change!
What does it mean for my business or clients?
In short, you will not have as many opportunities to choose engaging images or write compelling calls-to-action. There are two exceptions.
First, if your Facebook page is classified as a publisher page (the Facebook blog mentions “news, sports and entertainment Pages [sic]” that “modify links to their own articles at scale”), you can change metadata until September. Hmmm, so news organizations, who you’d think are most responsible for fake news, get a few extra months to clean up?
Second, if you create a carousel post, adding images to at least one original image, you can edit the post headlines.
What if my link has no image in the metadata?
Ooh! Solid question. Here's an example of how a post from our blog page shows up when we share it to Facebook:
This link has no image in the metadata, so Facebook allowed us to pick our own (yay, bettas!), just like the old days:
But look! We can’t edit the link headline and description (wah-wah). The general description above isn’t the end of the world, but it might not inspire click conversions in the same way as “Go Deep into Strategy with Our Blog.”
What if my link already has an image in the metadata?
If a link already has an image in its metadata, Facebook now requires you to use that original image (and not sub in another); if the post has more than one image, you can add additional images, but you’re required to use at least one of the originals. (Cue the carousel post!)
Ok, so under the new system, how do I make my web links stand out?
If you’re linking to another site, you won’t have as much control over how that site’s content looks on Facebook, but you DO have power to edit your own metadata.
We recommend spending a few hours backward planning your website for social so images and descriptions translate well. This means adding engaging images and calls to action on all your existing web pages, as well as giving yourself a few extra minutes to add them when you create future pages.
Some extensions—like Yoast for Wordpress—allow you to edit how a post appears on Facebook. If your website platform gives you this much control, take advantage of it!
How can I work around the Facebook metadata change?
We’re always focusing on productive solutions at WideFoc.us while also adapting to an ever-changing social media landscape, so here’s what we recommend right now:
If your post is part of an advertising campaign, you can make it into a dark post using Power Editor. (Don’t know how to do that? We can help!) Facebook still gives advertisers complete control over creatives.
Without the ability to edit link headlines with calls-to-action, you must ensure that your post copy is on point. You know your business’s value propositions, its products, and its offers, so sell! This is where a team of creatives supporting your business can help you rise above the pack.
If you know the link image or headline won’t lead to conversions, use a photo/video post and provide the hyperlink in the post copy. (Pro tip: Use an emoji arrow like the one below to draw attention to the link.)
Finally, as mentioned above, if a link has images embedded in its metadata, you have to use at least one of the originals, though you may be able to build off of these images. Remember that means you’re working with a carousel post, so plan ahead with square pictures.
We hope you find these tips to be a useful place to start as you adapt to Facebook’s new posting limitations, but if you’re also looking for deep social media strategy, we’d love to talk. WideFoc.us specializes in real-time social media strategy and engagement, which means we’re not only representing your brand across social media platforms, but also monitoring trends and changes in the platforms themselves.
Let us know how we can help you and your business.
-- By Paul Bindel
Paul has a lifelong love of sentences, words, and writing. After teaching composition and literature for five years, he found a new passion in applied communications in social media. At WideFoc.us, he is energized by the opportunity of connecting his clients to real-time conversations and people.