In the first part of this series on Social Meta Tags, I touched upon ‘activating’ social meta tags and getting the content marketing ball rolling. As you may be aware, meta tags are for search engines, while social meta tags are for social-sharing. Content marketers and web developers should give social meta tags as much importance as they give meta tags and SEO.

Beyond insertion of social meta tags, there are various tips to help you do this RIGHT.

Tip 0: Pick the Right CMS

If your Content Management System (CMS) does not support the inclusion of social meta tags — open graph as well as Twitter summary cards — from the page-editing interface, you are going to struggle a LOT. You may end up inserting these pieces of code in the source code manually. The CMS should, in an ideal world, auto-fill these social meta tags using whatever information it has from the meta. This in turn can be edited by the publisher. The advantage — your page never gets published without social meta tags.

Tip 1: Write the Right Messaging

The decision to click (or not) is made in ~3 seconds. As a content marketer, social meta tags are the weapons using which you can attract your audience. If you don’t use them properly, your content marketing is already off the road.

Make sure that your social meta tag title and description (og:title, og:description, Twitter Summary Card title and description) are social-friendly. The title should be different from the article title if the latter is ‘long’ and ‘boring’ for social media — you could even have different titles for Twitter Summary Card and og:title. The same goes for the description. The social meta title and description tags should act as click-baits.

The easiest way to handle social meta title tags is to make sure that the content team ‘gets’ social. They should write social-friendly titles which can be re-used as social meta title tags.

Tip 1a: Pick the Right Text Length

The social meta title should not exceed ~45 characters. The description (which does not get displayed on mobile apps) should not exceed ~130 characters. Truncation is based on padding and not necessarily character count; this is the reason for approximate limits here.

Tip 2: Use the Right Image

It’s not just the title and description that you should optimize, but also the image. The auto-populated (preview, summary, snippet —whatever you want to call it) image should complement the auto-populated title and description. All of these together do the magic of making users click on a social media post.

Pick the right image, and make sure that your brand elements are placed away from the borders — this is to make sure that your logo or other elements do not get ‘cut’ when viewed. The image dimensions are to be optimized so that the image looks good across devices, browsers and apps.

Tip 2a: Use the Right Image Size

When it comes to the main social platforms — Linkedin, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter (if you are opting for the large summary card) — it’s safe to have a 2:1 image. 800*400px is the recommended size on Linkedin — mobile and desktop. Something close to this aspect ratio works fine on Facebook too. Google + instructs publishers to use images with height greater than 120px. They also say that if the width is less than 100px, then the aspect ratio must be no greater than 3.0. Read more here. Something around 2:1 is what works fine on Twitter — mobile and desktop.

Too many sizes and unsure what to pick? 800px*400px or 800px * 450px should work fine on all these four networks — mobile and desktop. As stated earlier, do NOT have text or elements close to the borders — just to play it safe.

Tip 3: Get it Right the First Time

It’s important to get the social meta tags right the first time. When a page is shared on social media, the social meta tags are cached on their servers. Cache-refresh takes over a week’s time. So what does this mean for content marketers? If you change a page’s social meta tags, it won’t get reflected immediately on various social networks. Is there a hack that you can try here? You could change the page URL and try, but your CMS should be smart enough to redirect the old URL to the new one.

Are there any social meta tag best practices that I missed? Are you struggling to get it implemented? Comment or tweet to me and let me know.

Twitter: @nikhilnarayanan

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