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How to Guarantee Your Blog Posts Look Amazing on Social Media

How to Control the Social Share Image of Your Blog Posts

You just spent five hours writing an epic blog post.

Congratulations!

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.

When you put lots of work into your social media post you want the image to pull correctly

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.

How to Control the Social Share Image of Your Blog Posts
Use free tools to debug how your images are being pulled from your blog 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.

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).

How to Control the Social Share Image of Your Blog Posts
The premium version of Yoast allows you to change the details of how your blog post appears on Facebook and Twitter

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:

SEO 101: using keywords in your blog post
How to hire an awesome writer for your blog
57 remarkable statistics and insights about blogging

This post was originally published in 2017 and was updated in 2020.

A Social Media Survival Guide for Small Business

A social media guide for small business

“I can only conclude that people who don’t use social media are, at best, considered to be mavericks or, at worst, some kind of psychopath.” Steve Blakeman

“I’m not a very social media person” my new client admitted to me. “I mean, I know I should be…I’m just not.”

I get it.

If you were born before 1980 you are less likely to be a ‘social media person’.

So, there you are: a business person who needs social media to reach your tribe – even attract a bigger tribe. The problem is the thought of checking Instagram every morning or uploading a video to Facebook gives you a cold sweat.

You could go cold turkey, buy a yurt and live in the desert (been done), or…
you could find a happy compromise and use social media on your terms.

There is a solution and it starts by understanding that you don’t need to reach the world.

 

If you were born before 1980 you are less likely to be a ‘social media person’.

 

Social Media Guide for Small Business: You don’t need to reach the world.

“There is also the joy of learning new ways of marketing, with that there is often the accompanying pain of mistakes that comes along for the ride.” Jeff Bullas

Has this happened to you?

You see a tweet that had 425 retweets or your competitor has 10,000 followers on Facebook. “Damn,” you think “I really need to spend more time tweeting. Or posting. Or pasting. Or someting!”

Well, whoop-di-doo (tech speak for ‘who cares?’) they got a bunch of monkeys to jump!

Maybe that’s not your goal?

Unless you’re promoting your new punk band or selling a new gaming app, volume is not your goal. Click To Tweet

Your goal should be to build loyal followers

The kind of loyal followers who follow you all the way back to your website. The kind of followers who share your content and buy your stuff.

You don’t need to reach the world … you need to reach your tribe.

Start by getting a clear notion of who you are speaking to – who is your ideal audience, or avatar:

— what age are they?
— gender?
— type of work or career?
— what problems do they seek solutions for?
— what style of writing do they enjoy: high-brow philosophy or Gary Larson cartoons?
— how do they like to engage: sharing, quizzes, comments?

Evernote (read my post about how I use this fantastic, free tool) does a great job of writing to people who love lists and getting organized.

Good is better than more.

“I am 100% convinced that you can live without using or be on social media.” Israel Garcia

There’s lots of “expert” advice online on how to schedule loads and loads of updates (I wrote about the problem with scheduling software). As if volume is the ultimate goal.

There’s lots of “expert” advice online on how to schedule loads and loads of updates. As if volume is the ultimate goal. Click To Tweet

Let me ask you a question…

If you went to a restaurant, would you rather have a huge bowl of mediocre food or a small portion of delicious food prepared by a talented chef? I’d choose good over more every time.

Good can simply mean a few extra minutes editing, choosing an original image, or making a reference to a trending topic.

A good rule with social media is people share what makes them look smart. Putting a clever twist on what they think they already know will have more legs than one more post about 5 ways to be a better leader.

Comparing two posts on similar topics, my post “5 steps to writing an awesome blog post in less than 60 minutes”  got a much better reaction than the earlier post “5 blog posts that will keep your reader coming back.” Taking a stand – even a bold claim – is an invitation for readers to share to their followers. They feel smart sharing the post they just enjoyed and you get the benefit of new readers.

A good rule with social media is people share what makes them look smart. Click To Tweet

Oreo does a great job of creating smart, often sarcastic, comedy in their Tweets.

Work in batches

“The best way to engage honestly with the marketplace via Twitter is to never use the words ‘engage,’ ‘honestly,’ or ‘marketplace.’”Jeffrey Zeldman, Founder, A List Apart magazine

One of the best ways to be more effective is to work in batches. That could be 15 minutes of solid email work, followed by no email for an hour, instead of constantly checking your email all morning.

You can also batch your social media.

Instead of interrupting your day with updates and responding to followers, you can do it once a day. You might not go viral, but you will have time for other work without distraction.

Fortunately, there are scheduling tools like Buffer and CoSchedule that let you load up a calendar full of updates. The problem with any schedule tools (this will intentionally sound self-serving) is that most people – especially super busy business owners – don’t have time to learn how to use the scheduling tool, let alone constantly fill it.

I know, because before I created BlogWorks, that’s what I tried to do.

I’ll give you two weeks before you quit.

Good news! At BlogWorks we can do it all for you. No scheduling tools, searching for articles, fussing with pictures, or shortening links. One account, one solution, social media is done. Learn how to get started with BlogWorks.

Good news! At BlogWorks we can do it all for you.

Outsource $10/hour jobs

“If you love life, don’t waste time for time is what life is made up of.” Bruce Lee

One of the most powerful lessons I received as an entrepreneur was about the value of my time.

Here’s a simple exercise that was a big eye opener for me and might be for you as well.

Start by making three columns on a piece of paper (a flip chart is even better) and title them: $10, $50, $[what you charge clients per hour]. These are the values of the time for each task, starting with up to $10/hour, and then up to $50/hour and finally, up to your current value when working for clients.

Now, fill in all the tasks, jobs, routines, roles you fill in a typical week, putting each one in the column that matches the value of the job in dollars.

A common mistake entrepreneurs make is doing $10/hour jobs instead of delegating them to others.

Do you see a problem?

Most business owners discover there’s lots of $10 jobs they are still doing, even though they charge 10X that, or more, to their customers. This is what Michael Gerber meant when he said we are “…spending too much time working in our business instead of working on our business.”

The solution begins by first documenting the process routine for all your $10/hour jobs. Simply make a list of each step using a Google Doc (we use Google Doc’s because they’re easy to share within our team).

These are called SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) and they can change your life.

Next, go on UpWork and hire a freelancer to do that job. Don’t worry about creating full-time employment or giving them five jobs to make it worth their time — just start with one reoccurring job that needs to get done.

A good job to start with is publishing your blog.

You might be surprised to learn how many steps go into publishing a blog. There are at least a dozen steps, starting with logging into WordPress, entering the headline, choosing tags, that have to be done the same way every time to get your blog looking good.

The solution is to start documenting the routines for all your $10/hour jobs.
Pro tip: once you post your job in Upwork, use the filters to choose the criteria for the freelancer you are looking for.

Even if you’re not into social media, you don’t have to abandon it altogether.

The strategies in this social media guide for small business can keep you in the game with minimal effort and time.

Speaking of which, now you have more time for what you are into, like watching reruns of All in the family with a nice mug of Ovaltine.

Why social media scheduling tools might be a bad idea

social media scheduling tools bad idea

Let’s face it, you don’t have enough time to do everything you want or need to do.

You don’t have enough time for all the clever marketing ideas you heard on the latest podcast. You don’t have time to keep your website perfectly updated. And you don’t have time for social media.

So you turn to social media scheduling tools.

You quickly discover there are lots of options: Buffer, HootSuite, coschedule, edgar, smarterqueue … lots of them. And they all make big, bold promises that sound like instant solutions:

“…easy to manage your business’s social media accounts.”

“Social media scheduling without stress.”

“Social media management made easy.”

“Save over 5 hours every week.”

At the risk of sounding biased, one-sided, self-serving and just a little bit defensive, here’s why scheduling software might not be such a great idea after all.

At the risk of sounding biased, one-sided, self-serving and just a little bit defensive, here’s why social media scheduling tools might not be such a great idea after all. Click To Tweet

First, let’s look at what social media was designed for.

The real reason we use social media

Social media is first about being social — sharing personal updates, helpful news, valuable resources and connecting.

Sure anyone in business is happy to receive business from Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and we can advertise there as well. But, we go to social media first for the social.

“Creating content online that educates, adds value to people’s lives and inspires” wrote online marketing expert Jeff Bullas, “is something worth aspiring to.”

When you post the same content over and over you send the wrong message. It’s like the same TV commercial interrupting your favourite sitcom … again and again. Pretty soon, you just tune out.

One day a trusted friend tells you about some scheduling tool that has saved their bacon (isn’t it fascinating how we love to brag about some solution, even if we’re not completely convinced it works?). And after clicking on their suggestion, plus a bunch of other sites – all promising that the burden of keeping up with your social media will soon evaporate – you enter your credit card and create a password.

Um, did they happen to mention the real work is about to begin?

scheduling social media is hard work, so you turn to tools...

Let’s take a minute and look at the real cost of schedule software.

The real cost of social media scheduling tools

Most advice about online marketing and social media is given by people whose job is to (surprise!) do online marketing and social media. They live and breath this stuff. And their advice about using social media scheduling tools should come packaged with the warning, to borrow from TV shopping channels: “results may vary.”

Let’s break down the real cost of scheduling tools for someone who is not an online, social media expert. I think you’ll quickly see that the cost of the software subscription is only a small part of the real cost:

  • The typical cost of a software subscription: $10 – $99/month
  • Time to learn the software (assuming you value your time at $100/hour): 2 – 10 hours @ $100/hour = $200 – $1,000 sunk cost.
  • Time to keep software actively loaded every day: 2-4 hours/week @ $100/hour = $800 – $1,600/month.

So, using these very rough numbers, if you were completely dedicated and undistracted, you could be up to speed at a sunk cost of  $200 – $1,000 and investing $810 – $1,699/month (time + subscription fee) to update and maintain your schedule.

Here’s the rub.

I don’t know any business owner who is 1) dedicated enough to commit 8 hours a month to anything that doesn’t produce an immediate ROI to their business or 2) organized enough to stick to a routine this demanding for more than, oh, I don’t know, a week?

That’s why (this is when we start to sound a bit biased) we created BlogWorks.

Why we created BlogWorks

We are small business owners – just like you. And we know you don’t sit around thinking “Gee, I sure wish I had some software I could while away a couple of hours loading some stuff into.”

Not likely.

So we created a solution that does what you should be doing to promote your blog, and we use real people to do it.

BlogWorks does what you should be doing to promote your blog, and we use real people to do it. Click To Tweet

At BlogWorks we turn your blog posts into social media updates that are original, clever, relevant and just happen to be written by a thinking human (all of our team are professional writers living in Canada.) We also research and include articles from top performing sites like inc.com, Harvard Business Review, entrepreneur.com, Forbes.com, brenebrown.com, huffingtonpost.com.

Sure, we also do other nifty things, like: update hashtags, promote top performing blog posts, double check for grammar and spelling and monthly reporting.

It’s like having a trained, dedicated marketing assistant, but without the hassle of recruiting, hiring and training and without the high price.

A day late and a dollar short

Let’s face it, no solution is perfect—in an ideal world we’d all be sipping drinks with umbrellas and working Tim Ferriss’s 4 hour work week. But we don’t.

Time is scarce and we need to make smart decisions to keep our business growing and keep our calendar clear (of course, I’m assuming you’re not 18 and living in your parent’s basement).

Sure, you can sign up for any one of a dozen scheduling tools and feel great. For a few minutes.

The problem comes when you (or Mary at the front desk) try to keep up with the loading, adjusting, tweaking, relearning and the messing around it takes to make your new, fancy social media scheduling tools actually work.

When you’re ready to offload all of that and get back to what you do best, give us a shout.

Want more info on How to Get The Social Media Monkey Off Your Back?

How To get the Social Media Monkey off your Back E-book

 

 

Click here for our white paper.

 

17 proven strategies for building a better blog

blog traffic

In this post we are sharing one of our most popular slide decks published on SlideShare. It’s advice from the gurus that is not only really smart, it’s actionable.

PRO TIP: Once you scan through these, go back and choose just one to work on this month. For example, you might want to put more attention on your headlines – great! Go through your underperforming posts and rewrite the headlines using keywords (don’t change the URL of the post – just the headline).

Here’s the complete list:

  1. think: long road
  2. build your avatar
  3. don’t guess – ask them
  4. think like a publisher
  5. do the grunt work
  6. don’t make it all about you
  7. survive the first draft
  8. be a name dropper
  9. solve problems
  1. each post is a product
  2. give readers what they want
  3. great headlines
  4. include eye candy
  5. make it about them
  6. use a template
  7. spread the good news
  8. be consistent

How to Measure Your Blog’s Success

How to measure your blog's success

One of the hardest parts about blogging is understanding whether it’s having a positive impact on your business. If you’ve ever thought, “How do I know whether my blog is actually working?”, this article on how to measure blog success is for you.

How to Measure Blog Success With Google Analytics

Measure your blog's effectiveness with Google Analytics

Google Analytics (GA) is an awesome, free tool that lets you understand where your traffic is coming from, what they’re doing on your site, and which of your pages (or blog posts) are getting the most views.

If you’re not sure how to install GA, we have a quick post to help you figure if you correctly installed it.

Which Metrics Should You Measure?

Google Analytics has a ton of different statistics, fancy words, and things that can be downright hard to understand. How do you know which ones you should look at to measure blog success?

It all boils down to the what makes a difference in your bottom line:

Sessions – This metric will tell you how much traffic your blog is getting. Raw traffic is a good measurement of effectiveness because it will tell you whether or not your blog is growing. You can increase this number through various promotion strategies.

Bounce Rate – Bounce rate measures how many users left after visiting just one page on your website. The lower this number, the better, because it means people are engaging with your website content and clicking through pages. This metric lets you know whether or not you’re using good calls-to-action and whether or not your blog posts are written for engagement. Using power words can help you increase engagement.

CTA Clicks/Signups – A Call-to-Action (CTA) is a link on your page that calls the visitor to take some sort of action, like subscribe to your email newsletter or opt-in offer. Clicks and signups tell you how effective your CTAs are. If this number is low, it could mean your CTA isn’t relevant or compelling enough or doesn’t stand out enough. While beyond the scope of this article, it’s good to know month over month signups and unsubscribes as well.

If you’re not an analytical person and need more help understanding Google Analytics, we also wrote a guide to GA for non-analytical people you can check out.

Other Important Analytics

Of course, Google Analytics tells you about more than just metrics. Other ways measure your blog’s success include knowing your:

Top blog posts – Google tells you which of your blog posts is getting the most traffic and engagement. As you can see in the image below, just navigate to Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages. This will show you which of your pages has gotten the most views, as well as the average time spent on page and bounce rate.

Measuring your most popular blog posts using Google Analytics

Traffic sources – This gives you a rough idea of where your traffic is coming from. To find this information, navigate to Overview -> All Traffic -> Channels. From there, you can see referral, social, organic, and direct traffic. Having this information will help you determine which topics are the most effective and should be prioritized.

Other Ways to Measure Your Blog’s Success

Google Analytics is only one way to measure the effectiveness of your blog. There are other tools and metrics you should look at, including:

BuzzSumo – Buzzsumo is a sweet tool that lets you see which of your posts is getting the most shares. Of course, their free version is limited to only five results, but it’s still a good way to see your five most-shared posts.

Using BuzzSumo to track your most popular posts

Engagement – Measuring engagement means measuring comments and shares. This could mean comments on your blog or comments on your social media posts. Your blog posts or social posts with the most comments and/or shares are potentially great topics to discuss further.

That’s all for now, folks! Now it’s your turn – did we miss any important metrics? Do you have any other questions? Drop us a comment to let us know!

The Problem With Scheduling Software

The Problem With Social Media Scheduling Software

Are you currently using a scheduling software like Buffer, HootSuite, CoSchedule, or Edgar?

Social media scheduling software are amazing tools…

…with a fatal flaw.

If you don’t understand the cons of using automation tools, you’re really hurting your business (and losing out on traffic and potential clients).

What is that fatal flaw? Keep reading to find out.

Pros of Scheduling Software:

Before we bash social scheduling, we want to give it the credit it deserves. Scheduling software isn’t all bad. Lots of people use it, and understandably so.

Scheduling software can do some great things, like:

Easy post automation – Scheduling software just makes automating your posts so easy. You type your post, hit schedule, and you’re good to go.

Posting time optimization – Not sure when to share your content? Just optimize it using a scheduling tool. They’ll automatically post your stuff when it’s sure to get the most engagement.

Post while you’re not at your computer – Of course, this is a no-brainer – you can keep your social profiles active even when you’re not around!

Cons of Scheduling Software:

But, as I said, there are some serious problems with relying on social media scheduling tools:

Nothing happens until you do the work – Sure it’s wonderful that automation software will post updates, but first you have to create the content. In our world, your blog comes first (read this post to learn how to use a template). But then you still have to create the social media updates to feed the software – that’s where many people quit.

It’s easy to sound robotic – Because it’s so easy to share your posts, it can also be easy to sound robotic, which makes it obvious to your followers you’re using a scheduling tool.

Automation makes it easy to pump out content for content’s sake – Sure, you can share as much as you want. However, simply pushing out your content over and over will make you look inauthentic, which means consumers won’t trust you.

Software could cause you to forget to actually check your social profiles – Truly a “set it and forget it” issue, scheduling takes the “social” out of social media. Even if you’re scheduling posts, you still need to take the time to engage with your followers!

Automation can also lead to poorly timed tweets – Don’t let that be you. Just because you’re scheduling posts, you should still keep an eye on them in case of an untimely news happening.

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, social media scheduling software solves some serious needs in the business world. Automation tools save us time, which we can use to focus on the thing we do best: running our business.

However, scheduling tools still don’t take the work out of social media management.

For a truly turnkey solution, BlogWorks can take care of the scheduling for you AND keep you from sounding robotic, posting untimely tweets, or having to worry about what to say on each platform.

Click here now to find out how BlogWorks can help you manage your business’s social media. We promote your blog, so you don’t have to.