TypeA works with a lot different companies that contract with third-party vendors to design their websites. Some use large web firms; some use boutique web firms. Some are re-launching existing websites. Some are launching brand-new sites for new divisions or initiatives. Regardless of the circumstances, there is one issue that comes up again and again: Facebook integration. And no, I’m not talking about simply slapping a Facebook icon on your home page. I’m talking about adding Facebook Open Graph meta tags to your website.
I am personally surprised that more web firms do not automatically program their websites to include Facebook Open Graph meta tags, or at the very least, have a conversation with their clients to see if it is something they want/need prior to beginning design work. More often than not, a client may not know to ask their firm for it, then a website gets launched without it—and TypeA enters the picture from the social media side (after the fact)—and we end up with Facebook posts that look like this:
…when really, a Facebook post should look like this:
Granted, I cheated a little bit on the first one because I have already Open Graph on my site. But I think you can see one of the main differences (no image). Not only does the link without the Open Graph tag look “unappetizing” in the Facebook timeline, but it has a much lower chance of being shared, liked or commented on. There are no images and little to no information about the web page being shared. That’s a problem for us in the practical sense, but it’s also a major problem for our clients who have most likely paid a lot of money for a custom website that cannot easily be shared on social media! But alas, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First thing is first…
What is Facebook Open Graph?
Basically, Facebook’s Open Graph allows a certain level of customization over how a website’s information is carried to Facebook when a page is “recommended”, “liked”, or just generally shared. The reason why it exists is because sometimes Facebook is not always able to pull the images from the code on your web page. So, when your web programmer has added Open Graph tags to your website, your links on Facebook will be enriched with a title, description and image. (Think of it like a meta tag—which tells Google what you would like your page to rank. A Facebook Open Graph tag allows you to specify how Facebook interprets your page.)
Why Should You Ask Your Web Programmer to Use Facebook Open Graph?
Because it is critical for optimal social media sharing…and because it will help increase traffic to your site by making social posts about your site more engaging on Facebook. (In fact, images alone have been shown to greatly increase click through rates as well as social media engagement.) If you want to know about more reasons to use Open Graph, Marketing Profs covered the topic well at the beginning of the year.
When and Where Should You Use Open Graph?
It only needs to go on the pages you are optimizing for sharing on Facebook. So…all the pages on your blog would be a good place to start. Additionally, you may want to optimize any internal pages that could get social shares. Luckily, it doesn’t need to be implemented site-wide. Facebook Open Graph tags only need to be added to those pages that you want to be shared (or those that you want to look “pretty” when shared).
Have you encountered this issue before? Do you think enough web firms talk to their clients upfront about this important feature? Let us know in the comments!