I was watching Shark Tank last week. Maybe it was a repeat but it was new to me. When one person was asked what they’d spend their money on if the Shark invested, she replied, “we need $20,000 to optimize our website.”
First, I knew right then that this lady was a sap. She wouldn’t get my money. The things that engage people online don’t cost that kind of money, unless you’re overpaying somebody, or you’re pulling a Duck Dynasty and have 30 people in your social media war room.
My levels of scorn over the past few years has grown towards SEO professionals. Over the past year, Google has made it clear that manipulating search engines for ranking is going the way of the dinosaurs. It’s being replaced with social marketing. Google is making the leap from search based on a defined algorithm that is easily manipulable to one that is based on the collect Internet hive mind.
The bottom line is, SEO pros have had to evolve into social media strategists.
And this is a good thing.
In my experience, for most of its lifespan, the business title “Social Media Strategist” was a name you gave to the high school intern who had a Tumblr. It wasn’t something that was taken all that seriously. This wasn’t the fault of the Social Media Strategist. It was a result between the disconnect between the business owner (who wasn’t on social media, or didn’t clearly understand how to leverage them for business purposes) and seeing kids around the country killing it on social. It was, for the most part, kid’s stuff. And as kid’s stuff, it wasn’t worth taking seriously.
If you’re coming from the SEO world, you’re using to thinking algorithmically, not purely socially. THIS WILL HELP YOU.
Social media, after all, is a game of numbers. It’s a matter of exposure, virality, and ultimately its impact on the bottom line. More social engagement leads to higher revenue. If you’re a SEO pro, or a former SEO pro, this will all look pretty familiar. If you’re a social media person who doesn’t bother with code, don’t worry, this is easy stuff.
Social Engagement: You’re Doing It Wrong
We’ve been running this website now for over a year and a half and all this time, we’ve been doing our content dirty. We thought that we could just throw a link up on Facebook, Twitter, and a few other places, shortened through bit.ly for stats, and call it a day. When we look at our posts, it’s the same old tired post you’ve seen a million times before.
— BetterUserExperience (@BUXofficial) March 31, 2013
It’s the old “text with a link and hashtags” tweet. Simple. Easy. Common. Boring. And, not for nothing but leaves the entire message of the link up to the person posting it.
Being the control freaks we are with our online “brand”, wouldn’t it be cool if we had a way to add some information about the link to the post automatically? This way we could get the title into the post, perhaps a picture, and maybe even a synopsis or some of the text from the article. You know, really useful stuff!
As it turns out, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ give us a way to do just exactly what we want to do. And they do it with metadata.
You’ve Seen This Before
Metadata isn’t new to you. When you post a link to Facebook, Facebook tries to grab whatever metadata it can and shoves it in your post in an attempt to show people what they’re clicking on. We’ve all seen this.
It’s the image, title, and text below our original comment. We didn’t do that. Facebook did.
The point is, we could do that. Facebook gives us a way. It’s called Facebook’s Open Graph protocol. And lucky for us, both Google+ and LinkedIn use it for gathering information about links too. Twitter also gives us a way to make our tweets more informative. It’s called Twitter Cards. Both of these are metadata standards, that, when incorporated into our code, allows us to include information about our post when posted to the various social media networks.
There’s only one little hitch that you need to know before we get rockin’ with our Social Metadata. Each platform requires you to interface with them in a bit of a weird fashion. For Facebook’s Open Graph, you’re going to need to use your Facebook username (facebook.com/username) or an App ID. Without getting complicated about it, if you want to use it as a person, go with the username. If you want to use it as a business, go with the App ID.
In the case of Twitter. You have to apply. Once they verify you’re doing it right, they’ll let your website show Twitter Cards.
How you do both of these things depends on how you integrate the metadata into your website.
Like most things, there are easy ways to do this and hard ways to do this, depending on your platform. If you’re a coding guru who likes to run custom, we’ve got you covered. If you’re rocking a WordPress website, we’ve got you covered there as well.
First, let’s step to some WordPress plugins and see how they do that 1-2 thing.
Working With Open Graph and Twitter Cards: WordPress Edition
First, if you’re using Yoast SEO for SEO needs, you’ve already got what it takes to get up and running with social metadata. Just hit up the preferences of the Yoast plugin and add in the necessary information. You’ll notice that they make the whole Facebook username/App ID thing easy as pie. When you’re done, don’t forget to apply for Twitter Cards, in order for it to work. When you post new articles (or if you wish to go back to your older articles), Yoast has a place to enter a meta description for the social networks. You can also go to your User Profile on WordPress and update it with your Twitter Username (which shows up after you activate the plugin). This will make your Twitter username show up on the Twitter Card in addition to the website’s Twitter handle. Sweet!
If you’re the type that likes to do things one at a time I recommend:
Facebook’s Open Graph
If you’ve built your website in WordPress, getting up to speed will be a cinch. For Open Graph, I recommend WP Facebook Open Graph protocol. Simply install the plugin and follow the instructions. You’ll have to supply it with two Facebook ID numbers (they tell you how to find them) and one default 200x200px image. See? Easy.
Let’s say that you want your articles to look all sexy on Twitter, but for some reason you don’t want you use Yoast. Why could that be? Well, for one thing, Yoast isn’t really a fully functional implementation of the Twitter Card standard. To my knowledge, it doesn’t take into account, for example, pictures or videos. So there’s room for a different plugin to do the job. And the plugin that’s best to use it called Twitter Cards Meta by WPdeveloper.com.
The plugin couldn’t be easier. Install it and just fill out a few fields and that’s it.
Doing It The Hard Way With Code
That’s all fine and good for WordPress users but what if you don’t use WordPress. Or what if you just like knowing all the code that goes into your website? What then?
It’s not that hard B. All you have to do is add the following metadata. Just swap out the descriptions in “content” with your content (either statically or dynamically) and you’re good to go.
Facebook Open Graph Metadata
Twitter Cards Metadata
For More Information
Hit up these two articles if you want more info on Social Medial Third Party Metadata.