Have you ever noticed a competitor’s link on Facebook or Twitter and thought… “hm, that looks better than our links.” If you have, chances are you’re social media meta tags could use some work. This simple, yet powerful update to your newsroom’s website can significantly impact how much traffic your social posts send to your website. I had the pleasure of talking with 352‘s director of digital marketing, Erin Everhart to get the scoop on setting up social media meta tags for newsrooms:
Q: What exactly is a Social Media Meta Tag?
Erin: It’s a way for social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn to read different pieces of your website and know what to include when you post something on the individual network. They’re pretty similar to meta tags (ie title tags and meta descriptions) that search engines read to know what to include in the search engine results page. So if your Social Media Meta Tags aren’t set up right, your post might be missing the thumbnail image or other important information when it’s shared on a social platform.
Q: How could a newsroom benefit from implementing Social Media Meta Tags on its website?
Erin: You know how articles with images receive more traffic than articles without images? It’s the same way when you post an article on Facebook or Twitter (or anywhere else). We live in an extremely visual world, and having an image attached to your link always generates more clicks. The more you can do to make your post standout and catch peoples’ eyes, the more clicks you get, which brings more traffic, which brings more pageviews, and ultimately more adsense revenue.
Q: What does it take to add the Open Graph tags? Can you recommend any resources?
Erin: It’s pretty easy as long as you know how Facebook reads data. The problem is, Facebook Open Graph is different from your typical meta descriptions for search engines, so unless you take some manual action, you may see inconsistency with your posts, which is a huge pain. Here are the main tags that you’ll need to get a higher click-through rate on your Facebook posts. I’ll use this post, With Great Data Comes Great Responsibility, as the example:
og: title – Title of content
<meta property=”og:title” content=”With Great Data Comes Great Responsibility”>
og: description – Description of content
<meta property=”og:description” content=”The Boston Marathon Bombing’s crowd-sourced investigation and real-time manhunt on social media were a new breed of social news.”>
og:image – Image that Facebook will pull as your thumbnail
<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://www.352media.com/blog/uploads/images/reddit-detective-boston-marathon-bombing.jpg”>
If your blog is in WordPress, it’s even easier with this plugin: http://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-facebook-open-graph-protocol/.
Q: What is a Twitter Card?
Erin: It’s pretty much the exact same thing as Facebook Open Graph, just specific for Twitter. It allows your Twitter posts to include a title, image and description when you’re posting a link. The catch is that this really only sticks out the most if you’re reading your tweets on Twitter.com and not using a desktop or mobile client, which most people typically use to read Twitter.
Q: What does it take to add Twitter Cards? Can you recommend any resources?
Erin: Twitter’s developer portal actually does a great job at showing you how to set up Twitter cards https://dev.twitter.com/docs/cards. I don’t think they’re nearly as important as Facebook Open Graph for the reason listed above, though.
Q: How important is it for a newsroom to consider using social media meta tags as a part of its social strategy?
Erin: Critically important. This is a great way to make sure people don’t just stay stuck on your Facebook page because really, what good is a Facebook fan is they’re only connecting with you on Facebook? The whole goal of social media is to use it as a MEDIUM to move people back to your website or your blog, but so many people only focus on keep their fans in one segregated area and that doesn’t do you any good. You want your Facebook fans to work for you and that means funneling them through your customer journey so they complete your call to action.
Erin Everhart is the director of digital marketing at 352, a digital agency providing design, development and marketing solutions for clients ranging from startups and mid-sized business to prominent brands like Microsoft and Porsche. She’s a contributing author for Mashable, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch and Small Business Trends, and speaks at conferences nationwide.