Social media is highly visual these days – and for good reason. Mobile devices, which surpassed desktop use not too long ago, can now display high-quality and high-resolution images and videos from anywhere. Computers, laptops, and tablets can display vivid colors and visuals as well.
But it’s not just technology that warrants the use of more attractive visuals. Social media platforms have also encouraged the use of them. Facebook, for example, like most social networks is a visual medium so including images with your posts and status updates creates a more eye-catching piece of content. Not only that, people are more likely to pay attention to and engage with visual content too. Facebook posts that include an image get about 2.3 times more engagement than a post with only text.
Keep reading to learn how to customize Facebook thumbnails on your blog!
Why Should I Care About Facebook Thumbnails?
Regarding Facebook, there are many additional reasons for including images in a post. A post with a picture takes up more space in the news feed and catches the eye of your audience. This alone can earn you more interest in your posts, especially since Facebook automatically includes an image from a shared page or piece of content.
Unfortunately, the featured image won’t always show up, limiting the effectiveness of the post. You can always add a picture to the post later, but this doesn’t always work out or look as professional.
There must be a way to remedy this, no? Fortunately, there is.
Method 1: Use the Yoast SEO Plugin
Yoast SEO offers a lot of benefits for the average blogger that will improve your search engine rank and help you engage site visitors. It’s a comprehensive SEO or search engine optimization tool that can be used to get your site ready for a prime listing on major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. As a result, there are some excellent SEO features available – but we’re not going to talk about those here.
We’re more concerned with the option to set a default image for social media sharing. Because the plugin lets you change metadata, it simplifies the process for users.
Let’s explore how you can configure Open Graph settings in Yoast SEO. Before you dive in, make sure you’ve both installed the plugin on your WordPress site and activated it. You may also need to enable advanced settings to view the other settings pages of the plugin. To do this, go to SEO > Dashboard > Features tab and be sure “Advanced settings pages” is set to Enabled.
Once you have Yoast SEO set up on your WordPress blog, it’s time to configure your images to be shared on Facebook when someone posts a link to one of your articles.
How to Enable Facebook’s Open Graph Meta Tags in Yoast
Open Graph is a relatively new protocol for Facebook that allows third party portals and apps to sync up user activity and details. More importantly, it allows you to designate content to be shared on the social platform when someone embeds your site or blog.
With Yoast SEO you can designate unique tags for each post, and you’ll find the options to do so on each new post or page you create in WordPress. But the bigger problem occurs when you share content or a post that has no visual data attached.
With this Yoast feature, you can set default meta tags to be shared. To enable this, log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to the following menu: SEO > Social > Facebook Tab
Next, make sure the option to ‘add open graph meta data’ is enabled. You will then be able to customize and designate your default images for pages and posts, specify a Facebook admin and much more.
Be sure to ‘save changes’ when you are finished!
Method 2: Use the WP Facebook Open Graph Plugin
Yoast is one of the more popular SEO plugins for WordPress, but it’s not the only one. If you don’t want to rely on it or you use another plugin entirely, you’ll want to find an alternative way to configure Facebook Open Graph meta tags.
That’s where the WP Facebook Open Graph Protocol plugin comes into the equation. You might be surprised to know that in addition to Facebook, it also configures the meta details for use with Google Plus and LinkedIn.
Once installed and setup, the plugin will do one of three things:
- Look for and share featured image for post or page
- Pull any images from within the content or display on a page
- Default to the main site image you specify in settings
All of these images will sync up when you share a post or page on Facebook, and you’ll be able to select the image or visuals you prefer to use. Of course, if you fail to set images for either of these options nothing will show, so keep that in mind.
We’ll focus on adding default image and tag details because the other two options are straightforward. In the settings, you’ll find an option to set the ‘default image URL to use,’ which is what will show up when there are no featured images or images in the content. Just add the URL for the image you want in the field and choose ‘save changes.’
Open Graph Meta Data Best Practices
While some sources recommend 200px by 200px for sharing on Facebook, you’re better off going with a much higher resolution of 1200px by 628px. For starters, the higher quality image will look much better, especially on mobile. Second, if you decide to boost the post or make it into an ad, you won’t have to reconfigure any of the details to make it look better. You can just default to what’s already there.
According to Facebook, visuals with over 20% of text included are given a much lower priority and rating, so try to eliminate how much text you include in your featured images. Furthermore, try to limit the description – even a custom one – to less than 300 characters.
How to Test Your Facebook Thumbnails
Testing is relatively straightforward, but keep in mind that you’ll want to give your site a bit of time to update. In other words, the details won’t always show up right away, especially if you have a cache plugin enabled.
Head over to the Facebook for Developers ‘Sharing Debugger’ section and enter the URL of the page or content you want to test. It should populate the details for you, allowing you to see a preview of how the shared content will appear on Facebook. If everything looks correct, then you’re all set!
While visuals are certainly important, it’s important to remember that sometimes issues will be ironed out over time. In the case of a missing featured image or visuals when someone shares your page, it may have more to do with a cache plugin installed on your site or server. But in cases where an image never shows, and the content is always missing, these plugins will help you remedy the problem.
Either way, this is a great place to start if you want to have full control over the shared details for your site and its content.
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