If you’re like most business owners, you likely want to spend only a short amount of time each day on social media, and would rather spend the majority of your time running your business. In that time that you are on social media, you want to get the absolute biggest bang for your buck (or time). You want more followers, more engagement, and most importantly, more clicks through to your website where you’ll capture leads, convert sales, and grow your business.
If it’s not accomplishing that, then what’s the point?
In order to use Facebook to catapult your business into the limelight, you need to do two things really well. First, you need to learn how to craft posts using principles that are psychologically proven to maximize engagement and click-through. Second, you need to figure out how to do that in a way that is a fast, efficient use of your time. This article will show you how to do both.
While this post will cover posting in general, it is primarily aimed at helping business owners share links from their websites to drive traffic. As such, we’ll be focusing on the use of Open Graph tags and the link previews that appear in Facebook’s feeds.
What are open graph tags and what do they do?
When you share a link onto Facebook, it engages a unique system that scans the page on your website in order to create link previews. Their scraper will examine the HTML on your site and use the information that it finds to showcase a title, a description and a featured image. These link previews look something like this:
The sentence at the very top of that image is the only thing that was typed out by the user when the post was shared onto Facebook. Everything else, the title, the description, and that image, was generated from content on the page of your website. These come from the open graph tags.
These open graph tags live in the <head> portion of your web page. While there are several other open graph tags, we’ll only be focusing on these three. They generally look something like this:
<meta property="og:title" content="Are you overwhelmed by your daily task list?"> <meta property="og:description" content="Click here to learn how to get organized and back on track when your daily task list seems to be insurmountable and becomes overwhelming."> <meta property="og:image" content="https://warfareplugins.com/wp-content/uploads/dailytasks.jpg">
If you’re using WordPress to power your website, you can use a plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast or, better yet, our very own Social Warfare to populate these tags for you. These plugins will provide you with a simple, easy-to-use interface so that all you need to do is type out what you want to appear in those tags.
That’s where the guidance in this article will come into play. Let’s get started, shall we?
Open graph title tags
Your open graph title shouldn’t match the title of your actual article or landing page. It has a different purpose, and it will be displayed in a much different setting. It should be short and focused on compelling the reader to act. We’ll talk about this much more in-depth further below.
The ideal number of words is 5. AdSpresso by Huitsuite has analyzed over 750,000 Facebook ads during which they found that 5 word headlines, or titles, have the highest engagement.
While there is technically no maximum length, you should consider it to be around 95 characters. If your title goes beyond 100 characters, Facebook will automatically chop it down to only 88.
While that is the maximum, it is not the recommended. The recommended length is no more than 55 characters. Some recommend even shorter. Short, concise, action-oriented titles generate far more engagement than longer ones.
To summarize, open graph titles should adhere to the following guidelines:
- It should be as close as possible to 5 words long for maximum effect.
- The absolute maximum is 95 characters (not recommended).
- The recommended maximum length is 55 characters.
- The Open Graph title should not be the post or SEO title.
- The OPen Graph title should be calling the reader to do something.
Open graph description tags
Much like the title, the description should be very short as well. It should be focused on calling the reader to action while also still providing a bit of a description about your content. But, if you notice how I phrased that, you’ll see that the priority is to compel the reader to action.
The maximum length for this field is 200 characters. However, if you make a description that long, most of it will be chopped off by Facebook whenever it gets displayed in a link preview. This will result in an incomplete sentence being cut off with an ellipses at the end.
As with many things involving online business, we should approach this with a mobile-first attitude. In order for our descriptions to appear properly when displayed on mobile devices, we’ll want it to be 60 characters or fewer. And guess what, the shorter description will still look just fine on desktop.
To summarize, open graph descriptions should adhere to the following guidelines:
- As close as possible to 60 characters long.
- Absolutely no longer than 200 characters long.
- As we’ll discuss more in-depth below, it should describe the article while using verbs to directly call the user to click.
Open graph images
When Facebook displays the link previews on their website, it will crop the image in order to fit it properly on their platform. This means that they will chop off the sides or the top and bottom in order to make it fit their format.
If, however, you have your image set to the proper aspect ratio, it might get scaled to be larger or smaller (which is perfectly fine), but it won’t chop anything off.
The ideal aspect ratio is a 1.9:1 ratio. Also, you’ll want your image to be a minimum of 1,200 pixels wide by 628 pixels tall. While Facebook’s actual minimum dimensions are something like 200px by 200px, you don’t want to create anything even remotely close to that small. In fact, if anything, you want to use this ratio and create images that are even larger.
While that is the perfect aspect ratio, many people opt for an image that is a 1.8:1 ratio. This is almost exactly the same as we discussed above, and as such, it will rarely if ever get cropped.
Some folks prefer this aspect ratio, however, because it displays well on most platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) and can therefore just be reused for each one. It is also the same dimensions as a standard television set, and as such, it is very easy to remember what size to set your canvas in Photoshop. Simply make it 1920 x 1080 and you’ll be good to go.
To summarize, the open graph image should follow these guidelines in order to maximize their effectiveness:
- Ideally a 1.9:1 aspect ratio.
- Alternatively a 1.8:1 aspect ratio just like TV (1920 x 1080).
- An absolute bear minimum of 200px by 200px (not recommended)
- A recommended minimum of 1,200px by 628px.
- The file size should not exceed 30 MB.
Leverage psychological principles that compel action
Now that we’ve finished with the technical recommendations like character and word counts, let’s dive into the psychological tools that you can use to make both the title and the description drive more clicks.
As we mentioned above, these fields shouldn’t be a clone of your post title or the title that you used in your SEO plugin. Search engines like Google do not look at these fields. So throw everything you’ve learned about SEO out the window.
The most effective Open Graph descriptions are those that take the title of the article and transform it into a verb-focused, action-oriented call to action directed right at the reader.
For example, you might transform “The 15 Most Important SEO Factor in 2020″ to something like “Improve Your Website’s SEO Now”. Stick that title on the image, and use it for your SEO related fields, but use the action-oriented version for your Open Graph tags.
Your goal should be to accomplish one of the following in as few words as possible:
- Call the user to take a specific action: Get Registered to Vote Today.
- Leverage their fear of missing out: Don’t miss these huge savings.
- Solve a pain point in your industry: Never experience frayed ends again.
- Provide a key benefit: Skyrocket your website’s Facebook engagement.
- Provide access to expertise: Learn to craft perfect open graph tags.
- Tell them what they’ll be able to do: Craft click-worthy open graph tags.
Notice that in each of these examples, there is always a verb calling the user to take action. You can imagine an implied, “hey you” at the beginning of each one. You need to speak directly to the reader and call them to do something. Don’t use passive headlines that simply describe your content.
Remember that open graph tags have no bearing on SEO so forget keywords. Focus exclusively on actively compelling the reader to click.
Examples in the wild
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of images, titles, and descriptions that we find in the wild. We’ll compare them to what we’ve discussed here and critique them accordingly.
In this example from Entrepreneur, the title is far too long and doesn’t contain a clear, concise call to action.
This one from Easy Canvas Prints showcases the power of both a short title and a short description that is filled with impact. When you say less, you get more.
Use Social Warfare to drastically speed up the process
As of our August 2020 release of Social Warfare 4.1, there is now a built in social optimizer in the post editor. This social optimizer provides a score for each open graph field that updates in real-time as you type into the field. There is nothing on the market that makes it faster or easier to craft highly engaging open graph fields.
When we rolled out that update, we had a few folks ask us how we came up with the recommendations that it provides, and this article is the answer to that question. The primary purpose of every optimization recommendation is to help you compel Facebook users who see your post to click on it.
If you’re a Social Warfare user, be sure to let us know in the comments below what you think of the brand new Optimize for Social sidebar. We’d love to hear from you.