You just spent five hours writing an epic blog post.
Now, it’s time to share your masterpiece with the world.
Moving like a social media ninja you quickly write an update for Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and – just for good measure – Pinterest.
This is going to be huge – maybe it will even go viral.
And then it happens. Ugh!
You check your recent social posts and find that the wrong image was pulled.
Or worse… no photo at all.
We all know that social media updates with images are seen more, get more likes and shares and are more likely to pull traffic to your site. Photos on Facebook posts receive 53% more likes than the average post.
In short, photos work to get our attention and drive behaviour.
Always Be Converting
Before we dig into the details about images and getting the best results for each blog post…let’s talk about the ABC’s.
No, not the spelling ABC’s – I’m talking about Always Be Converting (apologies to Alec Baldwin’s character, Blake in the film Glengarry Glen Ross)
The purpose of your blog post is to attract your ideal client, to influence them and to invite them to take some kind of action. Ultimately, to convert them to a sale.
Sure, you love to get more readers and more people Liking and sharing your updates on social, but that doesn’t pay the bills. You need to Always Be Converting.
At BlogWorks we help experts turn their solutions into SEO-rich blog posts that work 24/7 to bring business to their door. Learn how we can update old blog posts and get a 200% increase in traffic.
Writing original content for your blog is hard enough without the hassle of images that don’t show the way you wanted (learn how to get free images that don’t look like stock images.)
That’s why we wrote this guide – to teach you how to control the social share images of your blog post so they look great every time (and you get maximum engagement).
The good news is once you make these changes, your images will get pulled automatically and you will have one less thing to worry about.
Let’s get started.
(Don’t worry if this all sounds complicated – I’ll show you a super easy, non-technical way to do this below.)
Use social networks troubleshooting tools to check your work
Fortunately, you can check your work with free debugging tools for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This is a super-fast way to see if your social updates are going to display the way you want to and, if not, what to do about it.
- Facebook: the Facebook Sharing Debugger alerts you to any warnings or errors with your meta tags.
- Twitter: the Twitter Card Validator will show how your post will be viewed and lists any warnings or errors.
- LinkedIn: the LinkedIn Card Inspector gives you the metadata (what the search engines will display) for each post.
Changing Your Social Share Image With Open Graph
When posts are shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin a process called Open Graph is used to extract information from your blog post to create a special social share link. This link includes the title of your article, an image, the URL, and a description.
It’s sort of like how Google pulls your metadata to show your blog posts in search results.
How does the protocol know how to find this info?
The information is sent to the Open Graph via meta tags that are found in the <head> of your website’s code. If not redirected, The Open Graph Protocol will use the information found in the meta tags on your site’s web page, just like Google does.
So, to ensure that the right titles, photos, URL and description, are used for your blog post, you’re going to want to optimize your posts for social media.
The BlogWorks Amazing Headline Analyzer will quickly give you a rating and feedback on your headline. Try it right now!
Here are Three Methods to Change the Share Image of Your Content:
#1 Add the Open Graph Tags
When the Open Graph Protocol tags are located in the right place, social networks can pull the information needed for your social posts.
If your website doesn’t have plugins (such as Yoast SEO) to automate this process, you’re going to have to add OG tags to your site manually.
The metadata needs to be added to the head section of your blog post. Here’s how:
Step 1: Add this code to the head section of your web page:
<meta property=“og:image” content=“http://example.com/picture.jpg” />
<meta property=”og:image:width” content=”180″ />
<meta property=”og:image:height” content=”110″ />
Be sure to replace “http://example.com/picture.jpg” with your images URL, and change the width and height to the correct numbers as shown below.
Step 2: Add your Image’s URL.
It’s important to follow Facebook’s guidelines when adding photos.
As for sizing, photos should be at least 470 x 246 pixels. However, for the best resolution, photos should be 1200 x 627 pixels.
For all Facebook image sizes, check out this post.
Step 3: Add the generated code snippet into the HTML head section of your page.
Adding the meta tags manually may take some getting used to but, once you’ve set a few blog posts, you’ll be able to easily add meta tags to all your future posts.
#2 Use Twitter Cards
If you’re not using WordPress for your website, then Twitter cards might be a great option for your social shares.
Although you can set up Twitter Cards with Yoast for WordPress (option #3 below), you can also set up your cards with meta tags.
This meta tag will describe your content, including images, videos or summaries:
<meta name=”twitter:card” content=”YOUR SUMMARY HERE”>
This meta tag is the page you are sharing with Twitter:
<meta name=”twitter:url” content=”YOUR URL HERE”>
You will also need to select a compelling title that is share-worthy for your Twitter card using this tag:
<meta name=”twitter:title” content=”YOUR TITLE HERE”>
You then want to create a description that is under 200 characters:
<meta name=”twitter:description” content=”YOUR DESCRIPTION HERE”>
Lastly, and most importantly, you will add your image:
<meta name=”twitter:image” content=”YOUR IMAGE URL HERE”>
After you follow the guidelines and apply the tags to your website, you have to apply to Twitter’s card program. Once approved by Twitter Card’s program, Twitter cards will be added to all of your Twitter posts.
Check out Twitter’s card developer overview for more info.
#3 Install Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress
As promised, this is the non-technical way to change your social sharing images!
Yoast SEO takes care of the guesswork and allows you to have complete control over the images seen on your social shares. If a social image has not been selected, Yoast will give Facebook an image to use based on the photo’s metadata.
And Yoast makes it incredibly easy for you to choose your own photos when you select “social’ in the Yoast menu bar (premium version).
You’ll want to follow Yoast’s steps to make sure that the right photo is used for your social posts. Even if you don’t take the time to select a photo, Yoast does a pretty good job of selecting a photo for you.
Yoast also lets you add a title and description and helps you to make it SEO-friendly, so it works well on social media sites and search engines.
If you are looking for an easy new way to find or create images and audio, we recommend Adobe products. You can find all of their creative software packages here.
It’s time to promote your posts
Now that you understand how to optimize your photos for social media and how the Open Graph Protocol works, you’ll be able to churn out excellent content that your social media readers look forward to viewing.
You’ll see your engagement increase and get more traffic back to your site! Your social share image never looked so good.
You might want to also include more images in your blog posts. Every image is a reason for your reader to stay on your page and get closer to taking an action. In this post we detail 7 strategies for crafting your blog to get more conversions (including adding more images).
Once you’ve created killer content and made sure it looks great on social media, you have to spend more time promoting it to get the best results. Many of our BlogWorks writing clients also use our social media packages to promote their blog posts automatically.
If you enjoyed this post, please take a second to share it so we can help make social media a prettier place!
Want to learn how to write like a pro? Download our Ultimate Writing Template.
Enjoyed this post? Here are 3 more all about putting your blog to work:
This post was originally published in 2017 and was updated in 2020.