If you’ve spent 5 minutes with an SEO expert, you’ve heard about the importance of social metadata. Despite the deluge of information, we continue to see prominent publishers make mistakes and underinvest in their metadata. Why is this?
In short, even if a publisher thinks they understand metadata, they may not fully understand how it impacts their business.
What is the importance of social metadata for publishers?
Social media has lone surpassed search as the most common way for readers to find content. As a result, social content discovery has allowed publishers to build businesses around the success of their content. In short, if you don’t participate on social media, you risk being left behind.
The social metadata publishers create them control how their content is seen when shared on social media. Publishers who prioritize social metadata set themselves up to take advantage of the continued growth of social.
Which social metadata is important?
Facebook and Twitter are still the most significant social engagement and traffic sources for most publishers. Each platform has its standards and best practices, and it’s important to know what they are. These standards include important elements that allow Facebook and Twitter to index and display content appropriately.
For example, Facebook’s Open Graph protocol gives publishers control over how their content displays in the News Feed. Twitter Cards allow publishers to control how their content shows up in the Twitter stream.
Best practices for social metadata
Requirements may vary for each publisher, but some standard fields should be customizable in an article’s publishing process.
Implementing a custom headline allows publishers to override the default article title when shared on Facebook.
Open Graph title best practices:
- Use a clear title without mentioning the brand or domain itself
- Keep the title brief and powerful without being vague.
- Don’t give away the content; compel the reader to learn more.
Publishers often use an excerpt from their post as a description. We recommend giving more attention to each article description. Open Graph description best practices:
- Don’t repeat generic descriptions across content.
- Don’t use an excerpt that ends with an ellipsis.
- Write compelling copy that teases the content.
- Keep the description short, so it has an impact and can display on mobile. Facebook often omits reports on mobile for posts that display too large.
- Description copy should complement the title (headline).
Writing a tweet in your content management system lets you embed the copy in your Twitter share button on each article page.
Tweet text best practices:
- Keep the copy to 88 characters or less to allow for an image and a link in the tweet.
- Use @mentions to call out authors or subjects of the article.
- Don’t give away the article; compel the reader to learn more.
Images may be the most important element of social posts. Best practices for social images:
- Use high-quality photographs or data visualizations.
- Make sure the images correspond with the social headline and description.
- Make sure the proportions of the images work on both Facebook and Twitter.
Invest in the development of your metadata
Don’t generate Facebook Open Graph and Twitter Card elements by installing plugins, outputting existing metadata, and calling it a day. Rather than just standardizing, publishers should optimize.
First, think about what metadata should exist. Then, after requirements are formalized, publishing should be updated to allow for the input of this data. Content management systems should require each article to have this data to be published.
Requiring the appropriate metadata for new content is a significant step forward. However, many publishers also have an archive of older content being shared consistently on social media. Publishers should take the time to survey their content archive and make sure their most important historical content is packaged and optimized for social.
Additionally, investing in the social metadata input doesn’t fix the social metadata output. Social meta tags are critically important, and implementation can often be more complex. Publishers should avoid common meta tag mistakes that can cause some of their content to display incorrectly on social and underperform when shared.
Here at True Anthem, we work with a large number of publishers. Our goal is to help them to maximize their success on social by optimizing their social metadata and social publishing processes. We’d love to hear your questions and comments and let you know how we can help.