Ready for Facebook to mess with you again?
The social network snuck in another change over the summer that could dramatically affect your posts: Facebook is getting rid of the ability to change the image in a link preview. The announcement was made on the network’s developers board in June and started rolling out at the end of July. Facebook plans to have the effort completed by Sept. 12.
I post on Facebook for many clients, and this change has the ability to dramatically affect our ability to post content for adult companies unless certain actions are taken.
Why stop modifying link previews?
In November, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg denied fake news posted to his social network affected the outcome of the presidential election. Regardless Facebook clearly has decided fake news is a problem on the site. Removing the ability to modify link metadata including headline, description and image is a step to help eliminate fake news.
The metadata-modify feature allowed people to create link content that was not representational of the content to which the link led. Facebook is changing this feature with the goal of “limiting malicious misrepresentations of underlying link content.”
How this affects you
Many people in the adult industry simply stay away from Facebook. It has not been a friendly platform for our industry and is often just an exercise in frustration, as our pages get shut down. That being said, Facebook is the largest social network. Adult industry entrepreneurs always ask whether they should be on Facebook, what they can get from it if they are, and what they can post.
Links to blogs have been the safest content for adult companies to post on Facebook. Many companies have created safe-for-work blogs just for that purpose. Playboy is a good example: The company shares news from its blog, which covers a variety of topics from news about the company and playmates to issues in the world and pop culture. Even the blog’s ads are SFW. The blog is a way for Playboy to promote digital content and create SFW upsells all over.
A blog is a great option for Facebook linking; however, if the preview metadata is not SFW, then your content may be flagged by the Facebook censors.
For publishers who have done well posting links on Facebook, the new regime also limits some testing tools. Many people use metadata customization as a way to A/B test their posts for performance. They no longer will be able to do that. A/B testing now must be done through Facebook’s ad platform, which is not available to most people in adult.
A really common issue is that a lot of people have the same metadata for all of their content. With an inability to edit each Facebook link’s metadata, all links will look exactly the same. That looks to readers and to Facebook like you aren’t sharing anything new, so your links will get less traction in the algorithm.
What are your options?
If your page is categorized as a media publisher, you will have the option to claim “link ownership” until Sept. 12. If you claim link ownership, you will be able to edit your metadata.
To do so, go to your publishing tools and select “link ownership” from the left-hand menu. From there, Facebook will give you code to add to your website to verify the URL. The ability to edit your metadata through link ownership is not necessarily permanent. Facebook is actively testing and may remove this feature, as well.
The easiest option is to edit your metadata. When you are writing posts, make sure the information is set up the way you want it to appear on Facebook. You can test the content before sharing it by using Facebook’s Sharing Debugger.
If you use the WordPress platform for your blog, you can edit your metadata easily with a plugin such as Yoast, as well as by editing the theme’s code. For more information, read this great blog about editing the Open Graph metadata on your WordPress site.
If you like your content shared on Facebook, either on your own page or by other people, you need to make sure the content is set up for safe Facebook sharing. Most Facebook users already have lost the ability to edit their metadata, but everyone will be out of luck by Sept. 12.
Lauren MacEwen is the primary strategist and CEO of 7 Veils Media. If you have questions about how to prepare your content for Facebook or want to discuss any other aspect of your social marketing, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.