If you’re not including Open Graph Tags on your site, you’re making a huge mistake when it comes to share-ability, impact on performance, and advanced engagement opportunities across many channels; including predictive personalization (more on that later).

As marketers, we are tasked not only with creating mountains of content, but then spreading that content across many channels, be it email, social, or other relevant channels. Depending on your objectives, you will most likely share your content on social media. But often the way we envision our content appearing on social networks and the way it actually renders don’t match up. The culprit, 99 times out of 100, has to do with the metadata located on your webpages.

While metadata has some impact on SEO (it’s importance has slipped in recent years), defining proper metadata plays a critical role for social media. In fact, Facebook introduced a set of metadata specifications called Open Graph to address this.

What is Open Graph?

Face it, every marketer shares content via social media – be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, just to name a few. Facebook in particular has been shown to be a major driver of traffic for a majority of sites across many verticals. Facebook’s Open Graph provides a degree of control over how third-party content renders on Facebook because of their defined meta tag specifications publishers include in their source code.

More importantly, Open Graph is a way to connect content to the broader social interest graph. It encompasses semantic understanding (topics, keywords, etc.) to draw greater understanding of content and to connect it to the rest of the world’s content. It makes recommendations of similar content possible in the world of social media. By defining these tags, you control what information is shown in Facebook when a page is shared, liked, or otherwise engaged with across social media platforms.

Facebook introduced Open Graph in 2010 to allow publishers to bring non-native Facebook content into the Facebook ecosystem and benefit from the same functionality as objects and content that lived directly on Facebook.

Example:

Examples of properly tagged Open Graph Post versus an improperly tagged post.

For instance, before Open Graph, if you posted an original piece of content directly onto Facebook, users could easily share and interact with the content and you had control of exactly what readers saw. Because you directly entered it onto Facebook. But, if you shared a link, you were often at the mercy of not knowing how that content would render until you “posted” it. Maybe the wrong image was shown, or no image at all. Maybe the headline was wrong or truncated. Maybe the text populating the description wasn’t what you wanted it to be. You don’t want to leave anything to chance when sharing content. Every facet of a shared piece of content can have a substantial impact on the engagement and traffic it brings to your site.

Open Graph changed all that; it placed marketers in the driver’s seat of how their content would be perceived by audiences across social media networks.

Benefits of Open Graph tags for Marketers:

 

Provides High Levels of Control

As outlined above, by defining the Open Graph metadata properly in your website’s HTML, you maintain control of how your posts, videos, images, and other content render within your audience’s social feed. This level of control also allows you to greatly affect conversions and click-thru-rates.

Maintains a Consistent User Experience

An extension to the high levels of control you gain by using Open Graph tags, you also ensure superior, consistent user experiences across all social channels by delivering the messaging you have so carefully crafted consistently across social channels. You protect the brand that your users have come to respect.

Recognized by All Major Social Networks

All of the other big social networks, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, recognize Open Graph tags and will use them to render posts within a user’s feed. In effect, by using the Facebook Open Graph tags, you’re making it easier to share across ALL of the social networks, not just Facebook.

Enables Greater Conversions

Adding Open Graph tags doesn’t directly affect SEO, but it does impact the performance of your content on social media – which directly affects the ability of users to come to your site and consume your content and share that content. With Facebook being a dominant traffic driver for many sites, having control of the information rendered in a user’s news stream is paramount.

Enables Advanced Automated Personalization

Enriching the structured metadata of your content enables advanced personalization platforms across the web to connect the dots between your content and your audience, unlocking the potential for matching your viewers with deeply personalized and relevant content that will engage them more deeply and drive positive brand awareness.

How do you add Open Graph meta data?

Open Graph tags are defined with “og:[enter metadata type here]”, which is included in the <head> portion of your site. Included below are the tags that are needed in order to conform to the Open Graph specification.

Markup Example

For example, here’s how to mark up an article, news story or blog post with og:type="article":

<meta property="og:url"                content="http://www.yoursite.com/some-page" />
<meta property="og:type"               content="article" />
<meta property="og:title"              content="A Short Amazing Title" />
<meta property="og:description"        content="Dive into the value of the article here." />
<meta property="og:image"              content="http://cdn.yoursite.com/media/image_name.jpg" />

This information can be found on Facebook’s Developer pages.

Tag Description
og:url The canonical URL for your page. This should be the undecorated URL, without session variables, user identifying parameters, or counters. Likes and Shares for this URL will aggregate at this URL. For example, mobile domain URLs should point to the desktop version of the URL as the canonical URL to aggregate Likes and Shares across different versions of the page.
og:title The title of your article without any branding such as your site name.
og:description A brief description of the content, usually between 2 and 4 sentences. This will displayed below the title of the post on Facebook.
og:site_name The name of your website (such as IMDb, not imdb.com).
og:image The URL of the image that appears when someone shares the content to Facebook. See below for more info, and check out our best practices guide to learn how to specify a high quality preview image.
fb:app_id In order to use Facebook Domain Insights you must add the app ID to your page. Domain Insights lets you view analytics for traffic to your site from Facebook. Find the app ID in your App Dashboard.

You may also want to add two additional tags to improve distribution and engagement:

Tag Description
og:type The type of media of your content. This tag impacts how your content shows up in News Feed. If you don’t specify a type,the default is websiteObject Types Reference
og:locale The locale of the resource. Defaults to en_US. You can also use og:locale:alternate if you have other available language translations available. Learn about the locales we support in our documentation on localization.

Helpful tip #1:

Wondering if your page is ready for Facebook? Use this handy tool created by Facebook:
https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/

Helpful tip #2:

If you are using WordPress, there are plugins dedicated to managing your Open Graph Tags. One of the easiest, and probably already included on your site, is Yoast SEO Tool. There have been other modules and plugins developed for all of the major Content Management Systems, like Drupal, Joomla, and more.

The debugger also triggers a scrape of your page, so if you do have errors in your HTML you can use the debugger to update your content. (A nice side benefit.)

OG Tags, Use them or be left in the dust…

Open Graph Tags help you really stand out in social feeds to greatly impact clicks and views, which directly impacts your site traffic. In addition, by properly tagging the content on your site with Open Graph Tags, you make your content easier to share and actually become part of the Facebook content ecosystem. Plus, your competition is already using them and starting to leverage the benefits they bring in predictive analytics and personalization.

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