Social Message Previews Best Practices and FAQs - CoSchedule Blog

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Social Message Previews Best Practices and FAQs

CoSchedule works hard to provide accurate previews of your social messages and take advantage of all the features available to it through the various social networks’ APIs. However, sometimes it happens that the preview isn’t what you hoped for. Here’s a rundown of what’s involved in generating those previews and how they work so that you get the best experience possible.

Open Graph Tags

CoSchedule uses Open Graph tags when available to show a preview of how your message will look when published on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and possibly Twitter (if Twitter Cards have not been defined). Open Graph tags (such as og:title, og:description, and og:image among others) are information that is coded on a webpage that explicitly defines what title, description, and image should be associated with that page when a link is shared on social media.

If you are linking to your own website, those tags can be added to your site’s code in various ways depending on how your site it built. If you are using WordPress, a search engine optimization plugin (such as the Yoast SEO Plugin) can automatically add the Open Graph tags to your site.

The recommendation from Facebook itself regarding Open Graph tags includes:

Most content is shared to Facebook as a URL, so it’s important that you mark up your website with Open Graph tags to take control over how your content appears on Facebook.

Without these tags, the Facebook Crawler uses internal heuristics to make a best guess about the title, description, and preview image for your content. Designate this info explicitly with Open Graph tags to ensure the highest quality posts on Facebook.

If you are linking to a site that you do not control and they do not have Open Graph tags defined, the preview that is shown will depend on many things including how their page is coded and the size of the images on the page. You will not be able to control what is displayed in the preview when using a link-type message in CoSchedule. If you want more control over the message and image that is used, you might want to choose to create an image-type post instead.

It is also possible that the message preview will look “off” to you but look good to anyone else who views your message. That can happen because the link has not yet been scraped by Facebook but as soon as you go to look at your message the information is available.

The first time someone shares a link, the Facebook crawler will scrape the HTML at that URL to gather, cache and display info about the content on Facebook like a title, description, and thumbnail image.

Having Open Graph tags in place on a website is the surest way to control the information, including images, that is associated with links to the site and provides the most reliable way to generate accurate previews for your social messages.

What Are Twitter Cards?

Twitter has its own set of tags that should be coded on a website to provide reliable previews for their social platform.

With Twitter Cards, you can attach rich photos, videos and media experiences to Tweets, helping to drive traffic to your website. Simply add a few lines of markup to your webpage, and users who Tweet links to your content will have a “Card” added to the Tweet that’s visible to their followers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Doesn’t CoSchedule Show a Preview for My Link?

While CoSchedule works hard to provide a preview of your message, there can be situations where we are unable to provide a message preview. For instance, a webpage that is slow to load may prevent CoSchedule from scraping the information to display. This can happen randomly, intermittently, and sometimes inexplicably.

Why Does My Tweet Not Show a Link Preview?

All Twitter messages scheduled on CoSchedule will publish exactly as if they were published directly by Twitter’s native network.

CoSchedule will try to display a preview for a link-type Twitter message, and typically if the link’s website has Twitter Cards enabled a preview should display. To verify if the site you are linking to has a Twitter Card, and to see what it will look like, enter the link into Twitter’s Card validator. If it is your site you are linking to, you can learn more about Twitter Cards, and how to add them to your website.

Why Doesn’t CoSchedule Show a Preview for My Link But It Publishes to Facebook Just Fine?

If a link isn’t generating a preview in CoSchedule, but it looks fine in the Facebook Debugger or when it is posted to Facebook, it means that something is preventing us from scraping the information we need to generate a preview. It could be that the web page was too slow to return an image to CoSchedule to display in the preview. Or it could be that there is security in place that is preventing us from scraping the image. If something is blocking our ability to scrape the link, it will be difficult for CoSchedule to display an accurate preview.

Why Is the Preview for My YouTube Video So Small?

YouTube pages do not have Open Graph information so the previews, including those posted natively, are a small thumbnail with a description and not a full image preview.

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