Social media meta tags are small snippets of HTML that you place on your website that tell platforms such as Facebook and Twitter what to display when somebody shares content from your site on social media.

Social media meta tags are tremendously important – without them, social platforms will have to make a “best guess” at what information the user is trying to share from your website, often resulting in the wrong (or no) image, headline and copy being displayed, all of which has a negative impact on engagement, click-throughs and re-shares.

It’s the difference between this:

And this:

Vitally, when social media meta tags are installed on your website and a post is shared to Facebook, everything below the copy in that Facebook clicks right through to the URL. This includes not only the image, but also the copy below the image. The same is true on Twitter. This is fundamentally different to attaching a photo to a social media post, which simply pops-up when clicked. As more of the real estate in the post clicks through to your website, you get more clicks, and more traffic.

You can test if social media meta tags are in place on your website by simply copying the URL from any page on your site and pasting that into a Facebook post. Do you see a beautiful post linking back to the exact content being shared, with an appropriate image and headline? If so, social media meta tags are in place and optimised. If not, there’s work to do!

(Tip: You can copy and paste the URL of this blog post into Facebook to see social media meta tags in action.)

There are two ways to approach social media meta tag implementation. You can create a single piece of code that you install on every page on your website that details general information and a “catch-all” image that defines your brand. Then, when users share any content from your website, this generic information will be automatically included.

This is simple, and certainly better than having no tags at all, but not ideal. For best results, you should install general social media meta tags on the “evergreen” parts of your website (for example, the homepage, about page, contact page etc.), but define bespoke tags for the most important sections. This would include individual product pages, services, case studies, blog posts, and so on.

Here’s an example of social media meta tag code – this configures how to display website content on Facebook:

Many content management systems (CMS) include social media meta tag support out of the box, or it can be installed as an extension or module.

Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest all have social media meta tag support, and each platform has released a tool to let you test if your tags are working correctly.

Facebook
https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug

Twitter
https://dev.twitter.com/docs/cards/validation/validator

Google+
http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets

Pinterest
http://developers.pinterest.com/rich_pins/validator/

For help setting up social media meta tags on your website, contact Identity today.