If you post online, you’ve undoubtedly heard some variation of the phrase, “Make sure you’re optimizing your social media content for better results!”
What does that mean? Most posters know the basics of social sharing decorum. Use hashtags on Twitter. Crop your images correctly. Tag people in the right photos. Don’t vent about coworkers on LinkedIn.
Those are good mechanical practices (and social ones, if you’re considerate). But beneath the surface, deep in the scrawling lines of code that run all social networks, specific and invisible parameters influence how many people see and share your content. So beyond being polite, knowing your audience, and using hashtags….
What is Social Optimization really about?
Social Optimization is both an art and a science. Many people successfully grasp the art form through trial, error, and creativity.
The science of it requires more accuracy and exactness. Have you ever uploaded a photo that didn’t crop right? Or written a lengthy post description only to have the end tapered off? Is your Facebook description fewer than 200 characters? How close is your image to the ideal aspect ratio of 3:2? Does your tweet contain the ideal number of 2 hashtags?
Every social media network has its quirks and unique posting practices, but there is a collective standard to how social sharing happens at the mechanical level. You need to know and adhere to these standards to optimize your content.
Some of these standards include…
- Open Graph Meta Tags
- Image Specifications and Ratios
- Ideal Character Numbers
- Having the Right Toolkit/Plugin
In this piece, we will teach you the best practices and methods for social optimization, as well as the science behind them. Let’s take a look.
The Social Optimizer Tool
At Social Warfare, we use a handy little tool we built called the Social Optimizer to guide our best posting practices. You can download it for Free below, but here’s a quick overview if you’ve never used it.
The Social Optimizer tool gives you a real-time “score” as you fill out your social media images, titles, and descriptions. It examines the size and aspect ratio of your images, the character count, word count, hashtag count of titles and descriptions, and more.
When people share your posts on social media, they will usually not take the time to optimize your images, titles, and description for you. You need to have those elements pre-optimized long before they visit your site.
With Social Warfare, you gain maximum control over how users share your content, which means your content is optimized for every share at the source.
The Social Optimizer uses a visual interface to guide you through each field and inform you about how well it’s filled in.
In the “Optimize for Social” bar, you’ll see a number between 1-100, along with a colored background.
- Excellent optimization (80-100) will earn you a green light.
- Passable optimization (60-80) will earn you an amber light.
- Poor optimization (60 or below) will earn you a red light.
In the right-hand pop-out bar, the Social Optimizer will guide you through each step in the optimization process and give you specific instructions on improving your content.
As we walk you through what it takes to optimize your social content, we’ll show you the process from the vantage point of using the Social Optimizer tool. While you can set up your open graph tags without this tool, it’s a manual and time-consuming process. The benefit of Social Optimizer is that you can set all of your tags for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more all in one place while having real-time feedback about optimizing social media content for best practices.
We recommend you use the quick and easy (not to mention Free) way we’ve provided for conquering your social media posts. You can get it below.
Okay. Ready to optimize?
Open Graph Meta Tags: The Key Tool You Need To Know
To optimize your social sharing successfully, you need to know about Open Graph meta tags. These tags communicate information about your website to Social Media sites when links to your site are shared. These tags allow you to craft custom titles, descriptions, and images to be used when your pages are shared on Facebook and LinkedIn. They look like this:
Shared links with carefully crafted Open Graph meta tags usually gain far more visibility and interaction. As such, these tags are the key to optimizing your content for better engagement and sharing.
You might notice in the screenshot above that some fields have two standards for the same measurement. For example, the Open Graph Image has an absolute minimum width of 200px and a recommended minimum width of 1,200px. The absolute minimum means that it will not work at all below that size. The recommended minimum is where it will look excellent to the users.
Twitter uses its own version of an Open Graph meta tag called a Twitter card. These are pretty much exactly like Open Graph meta tags, except that only one network, Twitter, looks at them.
Important: Open Graph and Twitter Card meta tags were created specifically for Social Media sharing. As such, they have no impact on SEO. Google and other search engines ignore these tags entirely because they know that these are webmaster’s specific communications to Social Media sites and are intended to be different than what is presented to search engines.
Most Social media sites have multiple tags and fields that they view to populate the information needed for content share. For example, Facebook first checks for an Open Graph title tag, but if it isn’t on the page, they use the actual page title.
All of the networks except for Twitter look first for Open Graph tags. Twitter looks first for Twitter cards.
Optimizing Social Media Content For Facebook & LinkedIn
When optimizing your social media content for Facebook or LinkedIn, you want to pay attention to three things: your Open Graph Image, your Open Graph Title, and your Open Graph Description.
Open Graph Image: This tag will populate a preview image into your social share. We’ll pull this from the Open Graph Image field on the Social Warfare Custom Options section of the post editor (seen above). If an Open Graph Image has not been set, we’ll look for a post thumbnail. If that’s not set, then we won’t output an image tag.
Open Graph Title & Description: These will be the title and description that accompanies your shared post. If a title or description has not been added, we’ll use the title of the post or the post excerpt respectively to fill these tags.
Filling these fields is important, but you also need to fill them out well by following best practices for social media posting. Social Optimizer will guide you by asking the following questions:
Open Graph Image
- Is it a 1.9:1 image ratio? You’ll receive points as a percentage of how close it is to that ideal aspect ratio.
- Is the image the recommended minimum of 1,200px by 628px?
- Is the image larger than the absolute minimum of 200px in width and height?
Open Graph Title
- Is the title fewer than the recommended maximum of 55 characters?
- Is the title fewer than the absolute maximum of 95 characters?
- How close is the title to the recommended 5 words?
Open Graph Description
- Is the description shorter than the recommended maximum of 60 characters?
- Is the description shorter than the absolute maximum of 200 characters?
Optimizing Social Media Content For Twitter
There are two types of Twitter Cards that Social Warfare will output for your pages.
Summary Card: A summary card showcases the title and description of the post on Twitter.
Summary with Large Image: In addition to the title and description, this type of card will also showcase an image maximizing the visual real estate that shares of your posts gain on that platform.
Titles & Descriptions
For Twitter, your title and description will come from your Open Graph Title & Description. Social Optimizer will pull information from these fields and convert them into the appropriate Twitter card.
Open Graph Images
As a general rule, larger images are more attractive because they take up more screen real estate, occupying viewers’ attention for longer. In order to populate the image you want, you need to tell Twitter which image to generate.
There are two image outputs you can supply here: An Open Graph Image or a Feature Image. Here’s how Social Optimizer ranks these in the order of precedence:
- Open Graph Image Field: If you upload an image into the Open Graph image field, it will populate that image in a tweet, creating a Summary Large Image Twitter card (Selected Image + Title + Description).
- Featured Image: If you don’t upload an image into the Open Graph image field, the Social Optimizer will populate your content’s Featured Image instead and create a Summary Large Image. (Featured Image + Title + Description)
- Nothing: If you don’t upload an image into the Open Graph image field or have a Featured Image set, Social Optimizer will assume you do not want an image with your tweet and default to using a Summary Card without an image (Title + Description).
Basically, you just need to upload either an Open Graph image or set a Featured Image, and Social Optimizer will determine which one to post when your content is shared on Twitter.
The last thing to optimize is your actual quote tweet! This all comes down to the content you’re sharing, the audience you’re sharing with, and your own personal posting style. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
- Is the tweet between the recommended length of 71 and 100 characters?
- Does your tweet contain the ideal number of 2 hashtags?
- Is the tweet shorter than the absolute maximum of 280 characters?
If you want more advice on how to write engaging social media posts, we have you covered here.
Optimizing Social Media Content For Pinterest
The first thing you’ll notice about the above picture is that the open graph image inside it is huge.
With Pinterest, size is real estate, and real estate is value. The most important thing to optimize is your image, and for that, you’ll want to ensure it meets a few requirements.
Social Optimizer will ask you to consider the following best practices when choosing a photo.
- How close is the image to the ideal aspect ratio of 3:2?
- Is the image the recommended minimum size of 735px by 1,102px?
- Is the image the absolute minimum size of 238px by 356px?
- Is the Pinterest description between the recommended length of 100 – 200 characters?
- Does the Pinterest description have between 5 and 15 hashtags?
- Is the description shorter than the absolute maximum of 500 characters?
If you stay within these guidelines and choose a bright, attractive image, your post will be optimized for engagement.
The above meta tags are the essential elements you’ll need, but Social Warfare – Pro offers a few additional custom Pinterest options to make your content more easily sharable, such as hover pin buttons or selectable pin browser image locations. You can check out those features here.
A Quick Word About Yoast SEO’s Open Graph Settings
A lot of writers, bloggers, and developers who use Social Warfare are also big fans of the Yoast SEO plugin.
Since Yoast SEO is one of our favorite plugins too, we took special care to ensure Social Warfare not only detects the presence of Yoast but interacts with it to avoid duplicating meta tags. Yoast SEO and Social Warfare work perfectly together to get you maximum exposure on Social Media networks.
Here’s how we craft meta tags in conjunction with Yoast SEO:
- If Yoast is not present, Social Warfare will simply populate its meta tags like usual.
- If Yoast is present and its Open Graph Tags are turned off, Social Warfare will populate its meta tags like usual.
- If Yoast is present and its Open Graph tags are turned on, Social Warfare will avoid outputting a set of Open Graph tags that overwrite Yoast’s tags.
- This means if a user crafts a title, description, or image for Social Warfare Open Graph fields, Yoast will overwrite them.
With the knowledge you’ve learned here, you are now fully equipped to optimize your social media content and extend your reach online.
The content that performs best is almost always highly optimized with the tips and tricks we’ve outlined above. Your readers are not going to do that leg work for you. You have to do it, but with the Social Optimizer, you can now do it twice as well in half the time.