Social Meta Data in WordPressYou want more shares on social media, right? Of course you do!

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could predetermine certain things about how your link is displayed when you or someone else shares your content?

I know you can customize certain things yourself, but when someone else shares you’re basically leaving it up to them.

Well, you can take more control with “Social Metadata”!

What is Social Metadata?

You may or may not be familiar with meta tags, they’re little snippets of information in the coding of your website that contatin your pages title, description and list of keywords for search engines to help identify what your page is about.

Well Social Metadata is an extension of that – it allows you to place certain pieces of information into your web pages so that when the page is shared, a summary, title and featured image are predetermined for use in the summary!

This works for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and other networks.

Here’s an example on Facebook of one of my post summaries being shared without Social Metadata, picking the first image on the page:

No Social Metadata

Of course, the image isn’t bad and it fits quite well – but it’s not quite as outstanding as this:

With Social Metadata

The second option is much bigger and going to get more attention.  The difference is a much larger image, even though the summaries are pretty much identical.

One the second image, I uploaded and selected an image using open graph data to be displayed so that whenever anyone else shares my link – this image will popup.

Naturally, I try to do this with every post now!

You get the same result on Twitter and Facebook also:

Twitter & Google Plus

I only wish I’d implemented it earlier! If you’re using WordPress then it’s dead easy to set up.

All you need is a plugin!

There are a number of plugins out there that do the job – WordPress SEO by Yoast being one of the best.  But it doesn’t suit everyone to install WordPress SEO by Yoast if they’re already set up with All in One SEO or a Search Engine Optimized WordPress theme.

The plugin I use is JM Twitter Cards.

It sounds an awful lot like it only caters for Twitter, but it allows you to use Open Graph Data which makes it easy for you customize your data for all social networks.

How do you set it up?

First, install JM Twitter Cards – just search for it through your WordPress plugin installer.

Once installed and activated, head to the options page by scrolling down the left menu on your dashbaord to ‘JM Twitter Cards’ -> ‘General’.

JM Options

You’ll then get an option screen.  You can then go through and add your Twitter handle to both the ‘creator’ (assuming you write the content) and the ‘site’ option (since you own the website). You can then choose what kind of Twitter card you want (I chose Summary and Large Image for more impact, but the choice is yours). Turn on Open Graph so your tags can be read by Facebook, Google Plus and other mediums.

Social Metadata options

You’ll notice the final option, ‘Excerpt’, is set to ‘no’. This is entirely up to you, if you turn it on then the ‘summary’ field on your post page will become the summary in your social metadata. But I just leave it turned off and Twitter uses the first few lines of text in the post (while Facebook uses the “description” Meta tag from your SEO plugin).

Since I’m personally concerned mostly with using the image for impact, I’m not personally worried about customizing the summary (I let the headline & image do the talking). But if you do want a custom summary, using the excerpt is one way of doing it!

How to Customize Your Posts

If you truly don’t want to spend any time, JM Twitter Cards will use your Featured Image as the Image Tag, and your summary will come from your Description Tag (from the your SEO plugin as mentioned above) or the first few lines of your post.  So technically you can set and forget.

But if you do want to customize things a little, it’s dead easy!

First I try to create an eye catching image. So create an image that’s 1200 x 628 pixels in size – this will make it a rectangular shape that will fit nicely in your Twitter Summary and also be a perfect size for Facebook and Google Plus (to get results similar to those at the beginning of this post).

Now to upload the image.  While editing your post, scroll toward the bottom of your page (outside and below your content) and you’ll see this form:

Upload Image

Click ‘Add or Upload File’ and you can upload and insert your image through the WordPress media uploader. Done!

image uploaded

If you chose to use your except as a summary, simply scroll up to the module titled ‘Excerpt’ and write your summary in there.

Excerpt

Your post is now set up! But there’s another step….

Facebook and Google Plus will use the information you’ve input above, but Twitter requires you to white list your website for use of the type of card you’ll be utilizing  (in the above case, Summary with Large Image).

Here’s an easy way to do it – head back to your General Options from earlier.  Scroll down and click the ‘Validator’ button.

Validator

You’ll then be taken to the card validator. Just input the url of one of your posts. Click ‘Preview Post’. You’ll be shown a preview of the card but also be shown a blue box to the left:

request approval

Simply click ‘Request Approval’, and if all is well, you’re website will be whitelisted for the type of card you tried to use. Dead Easy.

Now you can start sharing more effectively!

Your website is set up, although it could be useful to go back and update old posts which get shared regularly to increase their impact.

I hope you found this useful and easy to follow, any questions please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.  Otherwise, pleas esubscribe if you want more tips liek this sent to your inbox!

Thanks for reading.

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