What Are Social Meta Tags? How to Control How Your Content Looks in Social Media Shares

Have you ever pasted a link into Facebook or Twitter to find that the associated image has nothing to do with the content of that page, or that the post description reads like an SEO Mad Lib?

You think twice about sharing it, don’t you?

There’s a way for marketers to control the way their content displays as it shows up on social networks including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You control the social media content your page generates through social meta tags.

For instance, if someone copies a link to the index page of the Tim Ferriss blog in their Facebook status update:

tim ferriss blog header
The index page of the blog of Tim Ferriss, podcast host and author of “The 4-Hour Workweek”: http://tim.blog/

It looks like this:

example of poor Open Graph markup
When the URL http://tim.blog/ is pasted into a Facebook status update, the results is a lack-luster piece of content.

What you see here has room for improvement. You want to compel a viewer to click, right? The problem here is that the image, headline and description haven’t been crafted to get a click. People probably ignore or trash this post instead of sharing it.

Luckily, the title, description and image that automatically pop up when a user shares a link on many social networks can all be specified by the content publisher. When you optimize your content to look good on social media, it is more likely to get a click.

Social share optimization is one of the tactics we prioritize with our SMM services.

Why? Well, aren’t you much more likely to click on the post if it comes across your feed looking like this?

doctored example of social media content
In this doctored version of social media content for the Tim Ferriss blog, the image is set to fill the available space and the headline now includes a benefit statement to compel a viewer to click.

Read on to learn how to customize the headline, description and image of your pages using social meta tags. Jump to these sections with the links below or read on for your guide to optimized social media content:

Pro Tips for Crafting Social Meta Tags

The point of using social meta tags is to control the way your content is displayed in feeds rather than letting Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms generate the headline, description and image for you.

  • Adjust or recycle unused title ideas by using them as headlines in social media content.
  • You may want to test different versions of an image. Use Open Graph tags and Twitter Card tags as a social media marketing testing ground.
  • Tweak the image and content based on the network. Showcase images and text that will appeal to the unique interests of each network’s distinct audience.
  • While Twitter is said to default to Open Graph tags if no Twitter Card markup is on the page, in our experience, you get a more controlled result if you include both types of social media markup on a page.

Using WordPress? Social Meta Tags in WordPress Plugins

If you’re using WordPress, several plugins make it possible to implement social meta tags without ever having to write a single line of code.

Some options include:

WordPress plugins for social meta tags are a quick and easy way to associate custom headlines, descriptions and images with your WordPress posts and web pages on a page-by-page basis.

Yoast SEO WordPress plugin UI
Facebook Open Graph data input fields in the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin. If you were to click on the Twitter bird tab, you would see the same fields for customizing Twitter Card markup.

If you’re using different software to operate your site, the social markup for Facebook Open Graph, Twitter Cards and the other major social networks is below.

Open Graph Tags

The Open Graph protocol is Facebook’s standard for implementing social meta tags. It has also become recognized by all the major social platforms, including LinkedIn and Twitter. This means that Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks often pull the headline, description and image indicated in the Open Graph tags.

The critical Open Graph tags are:

Open Graph tag Description of tag
og:title title or alternate title of page which displays as the headline
og:url URL of page
og:description description of the page, of which Facebook displays 300 characters at most
og:image URL of unique image, recommended dimensions 1200×630 pixels
og:type article (otherwise defaults to “website”)

In order to have the Facebook shares that come from your webpages formatted with a headline (title), description and image of your choosing, like this:

example of good open graph social media content

… here’s what the social meta tags must look like in the HTML code:

<meta property=”og:title” content=”The Always-Up-to-Date SEO Checklist from Bruce Clay Inc.” />

<meta property=”og:url” content=”https://www.bruceclay.com/blog/seo-checklist/” />

<meta property=”og:description” content=”Just getting started optimizing websites? Here’s a time-tested SEO checklist to keep on-hand during your projects.” />

<meta property=”og:image” content=”https://www.bruceclay.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SEO-Checklist.jpg” />

<meta property=”og:type” content=”article” />

To make sure your Open Graph tags have been properly configured, use Facebook’s Sharing Debugger to view an error report and see a preview of how a shared URL will appear when posted to Facebook.

Pro tip: If you update a page’s OG tags, use the Sharing Debugger to force Facebook to do a fresh scrape of the URL, which will cause Facebook to pull the new social meta tag data. Otherwise, it might pull from cache instead of showing your updated content.

Twitter Card Markup

Twitter Cards allow you to attach photos or videos to Tweets with a few lines of code. There are several types of Twitter Cards but Summary Cards and Photo Summary Cards are most commonly used.

The basic markup tags for Twitter are:

Twitter Card tag Description of tag
twitter:card Card type (full list of card types here)
twitter:title Title or alternate title of page viewed as the headline
twitter:url URL of page
twitter:description Brief description in less than 200 characters
twitter:image  URL of unique image, recommended minimum dimensions of 440×220 pixels

So in order to get this:

example of good twitter card social share content

… the Twitter Card social meta tags will look like this:

<meta name=”twitter:card” content=”summary_large_image” />

<meta name=”twitter:title” content=” The Always-Up-to-Date SEO Checklist from @BruceClayInc” />

<meta name=”twitter:url” content=”http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/seo-checklist/” />

<meta name=”twitter:description” content=”Just getting started optimizing websites? Here’s a time-tested SEO checklist to keep on-hand during your projects.” />

<meta name=”twitter:image” content=”http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SEO-Checklist.jpg” />

Want to see what your page will look like when pasted into a tweet? Input a URL into the Twitter Card validator to see a preview and make sure you’ve configured your Twitter Card social markup correctly.

Pro tip: If you update a page’s Twitter Card tags, use the Twitter Card validator to force Twitter to do a fresh scrape of the URL, which will cause Twitter to pull the new social meta tag data. Otherwise, it might pull from a cache instead of your updated tags.

Schema for Sharing on LinkedIn and Pinterest

As mentioned, Open Graph tags are read by Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Most of the social networks recognize and support Open Graph as a default standard when it comes to social markup. But there is another solution for Pinterest and LinkedIn that is schema markup.

To use schema markup to customize the title, description and image associated with your LinkedIn or Pinterest, the social meta tags look like this:

<html itemscope itemtype=”https://schema.org/Article”>

<meta itemprop=”name” content=”Blog Post Title”>

<meta itemprop=”description” content=”This a description of blog post”>

<meta itemprop=”image” content=”https://www.domain.com/image.jpg”>

Again, this schema markup will go in the HTML code associated with your post right before the closing head tag, </head>.

You can validate your schema markup using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.

Read more on using schema and structured markup to improve how your content is displayed in our technical SEO and schema markup guides.

Social Media Promotion with Meta Tags

Start thinking of your social media content like social advertising. Strategic social markup for enhanced distribution is everything in today’s dynamic digital landscape.

The key to maximizing your social distribution is to control the way your content is displayed in feeds rather than letting Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms pull content from the page for you. By optimizing the meta tags that control social media content, you can craft messages about your blog post geared toward the distinct audiences you have on each social network.

Much like page title tags and meta description tags help boost organic search engine rankings, social meta tags are elements in your HTML that boost social exposure, increase social media traffic and improve click-through rates.

For additional help crafting more informative meta tags, be sure to check out our advice on how to use keywords in SEO.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (56)
Still on the hunt for actionable tips and insights? Each of these recent Social Media Marketing posts is better than the last!

56 Replies to “What Are Social Meta Tags? How to Control How Your Content Looks in Social Media Shares”

Thank you for providing this helpful information.

This post is so helpful! I often find myself struggling with what to post on social media and I just feel silly sharing content that I know is not perfect. I don’t know how to address that in my content, but knowing how to control the way your content displays as it shows up on social media shares is so helpful. I appreciate that you went into detail about the different ways you can control the appearance of your content and I’m so glad I found this article. I’ll definitely be bookmarking it and referring back to it when I need it!

It is a nice blog for us about Social meta tags.
Escorts Tractor

“Amazing write-up!” The blog is made very purely to make me and other to understand easily, Thanks to the author

Meta tags control the way your content is displayed in feeds rather than letting social platforms generate the headline, description, and image for you.

Very Important post for me, Thank You!!

What a fantastic post! This is so chock full of useful information I cant wait to dig deep and start utilizing the resources you have given me. your exuberance is refreshing.

Thanks guys! Got the good perks of social Metas! Keep it up keep posting….!~

Your tips regarding WordPress have guided me a lot, since I was a beginner with all this, good post, thank you.

This blog is very informative for those people who are new in social media marketing,
Thank you for sharing with us.

Really informative. As a beginner in SEO, it will be very helpful to know about the importance of og tags and Twitter cards. Thanks for sharing.

Very informative blog, As a social media marketer it will help us a lot,
thank you for sharing such an informative blog.

Amazing post this one is. This is very helpful article for the digital marketers. Thank you for sharing such a great information with us!

I highly recommend Yoast plugin. One of the biggest benefits of using the Yoast plugins is that they make it really easy to get started, and learn as you go along! You can see how your post will look like on different social media handles.

Great article; you’ve brought up some new and important parts of social media posts that I hadn’t considered before. I’ll take your suggestions when I share my post on social media. thank you for sharing this article.

Great tips! I learned so much reading this article.

Hi, Thanks for discussing the importance of Social Media Tags. We only share our content on social media platforms and never understand the importance of researching social media tags.

This information is really very important.

I was surfing the Internet for information and came across your blog. I am impressed by the information you have on this blog. It shows how well you understand this subject.

Hi Niki…..thanks for sharing this information. Was helpful.

Excellent advice! It’s something I’ve struggled with — the fruitful article, is worth reading, keep sharing such informative posts with us.

“Meta tags” are the first impression someone has of your page on a SERP. A good meta description will attract users to click through & visit your site. They ensure that search engines know what your “content” is about, so they’ll be able to show the website in the appropriate results.

The main importance of social media meta tags is to control the way your content is displayed on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms. Social media meta tags generate the headline, description and image for you.

I learn so many things from here. Thanks for sharing this blog with us.I learn so many things from here. Thanks for sharing this blog with us.

This is very well thought out! I enjoyed reading your article .

We appreciate your article post on the importance of social meta tags. It is a very important topic because social engagement helps to improve site rankings by gaining social signals.

Great article!! Very important post for me, thank you.

Hey Author,
Thanks for sharing WordPress plugins for social meta tags, Quite useful information.
Keep Blogging!

Great article worth reading; you’ve stated some fresh and crucial aspects of social media posts that I wasn’t aware of before. When I share my post on social media, I’ll follow your advice.

i think meta tags are crucial

If like me you frequently forget to set the social meta tags in yoast and then notice your content looks wrong when shared to facebook you’ll need this handy tool made by facebook/meta that
gets facebook to clear their cache of your site and show your new social meta tags almost immediately. https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug without this it can be a long wait.

Excellent blog and brilliant design and style.

Hello Niki, very good information…start with support to SEO with social media.

Amazing article thank you for sharing this information

This is an excellent article! It was a pleasure to read this article. Thank you for making this information available to us. It’s been an incredible year! Thank you for making our lives a little easier. Beaver Architect.

Are meta’s relevant now that Google has prioritized pulling/creating metas direct from content? It’s frustrating to go through the work of creating the perfect metas only to have Google choose their own.
I guess it’s a learning opportunity. If Google rewrites a meta, I can pick it apart and see where I fell short Thanks for the info.

Robert Stefanski

Hi Deanna, thanks for your question!

It is still mandatory to do your own META tags.

The INDEX contains your tags, not those made up for rendering only on the SERP.

Google looks at the query and determines if your title or theirs is to be shown, but by then the results are already detected from your tag usage. When Google changes tags it is only for show, it does not help rankings.

And since Google uses tags based upon the query and solid pages rank for many keywords it is best that you write the title. You should not rely on Google for any help.

Just a note: This article discusses social meta tags which are different than meta tags. For more on meta tags, check out this post: https://www.bruceclay.com/blog/what-are-meta-tags/

well socia media structure has been good but is there a way to add some social media like telegram meta ?

Great article that worth reading, You have mentioned new and very important things about social media posts that I didn’t know so far. I will follow your guide when sharing my post on social media.

Thanks for sharing this awesome guide with us..!

Very important post for me, thank you

Hello Niki,

Thanks for discussing social meta tags. Very good information to support SEO

I have been using Yoast plugin for On Page SEO and there is and extra feature which provides open graph tags. I really like it because compatible.

Paula Allen

Sunita: Yes, we like that feature on the Yoast plugin too!

Excellent advice! It’s something I’ve struggled with — good writing and information

Ksenia

Hello! Can I do this without meta tags and write information of image in url or other parameters?

fruitful article, worth reading ,keep sharing such informative post with us.

Yes, Social Media sharing help to strong your business branding.

Thanks Niki! Got the fruitful perks of social Metas! Keep it up

Virginia Nussey

Hi Amit! For anyone wondering, we use a WordPress plugin called CoSchedule to post to Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn after publishing a post. It is NOT automatic, but it is one place within the WordPress interface where we can publish to all our social networks. I prefer the fact that we have to create the post and have the ability to customize it, although CoSchedule will automatically pull the post title and social share image if you want to go that route. If you give CoSchedule a try, let us know what you think!

Nice, thorough and up to date article. What I struggle with is having a plugin to automatically post to Facebook, google+, twitter, pinterest?
Any suggestions?

Hey Niki,

Great article. Many solutions overlook those essential foundations of viral content, specially some leading SEO tools solutions. Having the ability of doing it manually, or even understanding how it’s done, is of paramount importance for someone who is trying to do a serious job with their online presences.

Thanks for this elaborated work! Good job!
Carlos.

Hello Niki, very good information…start with support to SEO with social media.

Thanks!!!

Hi Niki ,
thanks for discussing the importance of social meta tags and how to use them. It s reall important topic as social engagement helps to get social signals that leads to enhancing the site rankings.

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