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The Wrong Way to Share Content on Facebook

March 7, 2012
by Steven Shattuck

Take a quick glance at your Facebook newsfeed. You’ll probably not only notice a variety of shared content, but also subtle differences in how that content is displayed. Text-only posts, photo-only posts, posts with links that you can see, and ones that you can’t. For marketers, the goal of any Facebook post is to create engagement and conversation in the hopes of generating a conversion. Understanding the subtle differences in how links can be shared is critical for generating likes, comments, shares and click-through. There are two common methods of posting, but one way is a more effective means of sharing a link on Facebook.

The Wrong Way

The conventional, and typically less-effective way, to share a link on Facebook is to simply paste a URL into the status update field – with the option of writing additional introductory or supporting text. Facebook then pulls in rich snippets from the pasted url – a choice of thumbnail, page title and meta description.

The final product, as it appears in a user’s newsfeed, looks like this:

Here, you’ll notice that a tiny, truncated thumbnail is squeezed between four competing text elements – none of which effectively preview the post or entice click-through. It’s no surprise this method produces less interactions and conversions than the alternative, visual-friendly method.

The Right Way

Rather than pasting a link in the status update field, instead start by uploading a photo:

After choosing the photo to upload, we’ll then write some short, appealing introductory text and include a link to the full post. Notice how Facebook will not pull in rich snippets for this link:

The result is a cleaner and clearer post with a strong visual element.

Bypassing Facebook’s interpretation of rich snippets gives you fuller control over the post in general. The large photo dwarfs other posts in a user’s news-feed and immediately draws the eye, especially if it includes a joke or otherwise striking imagery.

An added benefit of using the photo method is that your Facebook timeline will eventually be populated with a large amount of visual content, as opposed to a ton of text and links.

This isn’t just an aesthetic preference. A 2012 study by ROI Research reports that 44% of respondents are more likely to engage with brands that post photos. In addition, media measurement and analytics company Simply Measured reports that photos are liked twice as often versus text updates.

Our own analytics don’t lie.  Looking back on a couple months worth of posts, you can see that the posts with photos performed better (in terms of virality, engagement and reach) versus their link-only counterparts:


Steven Shattuck

Senior Marketing Associate / Community Manager at Slingshot SEO. Steven Shattuck is Senior Marketing Associate / Community Manager at Slingshot SEO, responsible for the overall corporate online presence (website, blog, social media) with an emphasis on lead generation, digital PR and content creation.

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