Do you have a problem sharing your website content and blog posts to Facebook? Or not always does Facebook display (parse) the information you really want to share from your website? And moving the text around in the post and then repeating the share you get exactly the same result as the first share? Well I am finding this is not an uncommon occurrence.
I have learned a few things over the past few days about sharing blog posts and other pages on Facebook using sharing buttons, both on my own sites and on others. At first I blamed my sharing buttons and lodged a support issue with the plugin author. I uninstalled them and went with another then another, and they were all doing the same thing. So I started digging some more to find out why and what I can do to fix this.
That’s when I found out about something called Open Graph Protocol which is used by Facebook to allow any webpage to have the same functionality as other Facebook objects. It seems your website needs to have this in the head in order to properly share with Facebook. I also learned that some themes come with it built in and others don’t and it seems the best way to get it is by using an SEO plugin. (Would make more sense to me if the plugin authors of the share buttons would include it in their plugin.)
OK I need SEO anyway and why not get more functionality out of one plugin. I went with WordPress SEO by Yoast as from everything I was reading it would do the best job, give me SEO functionality and the Open Graph Protocol thingy I would need to properly share my posts to Facebook. Installation and setup were pretty easy and there was a check box to give me the Open Graph for social sharing.
Ready to test it out, I selected a couple of posts and gave them a new SEO title and description and resaved them. Then I went to share them on Facebook with my share buttons. After all this I was surprised that Facebook was still taking the old data from the post, what I tried to share the very first time like the original title and a snippet from the beginning of the post, and not the nice new SEO title and description I gave it using the SEO plugin. Disappointed is not the word. What did I do wrong? Maybe I didn’t enter in the data right, or save it, or maybe it needs a little time to propagate through. I will go have dinner and come back to it. Nope, time to propagate wasn’t the problem. Check the SEO fields in the post. Resave and reshare. Nope, same result. Hmmm…
More research. After a few reworded Google enquiries, I get the eureka moment! I find out that Facebook caches the first instance of sharing a post and that is why even though I had reworded the post in some instances, and changed the title and description in the SEO plugin, it was pulling old data. I had shared these posts before and Facebook had cached them. So what now?
The fix was actually pretty easy once I found it. Facebook has a tool called Open Graph Debugger where you can plug in the URL to the post. It debugs it, tells you what issues there may be, but the best part is it clears the cache leaving the way free and clear for the new and improved post to take its place.
So if you are having issues with sharing on Facebook, check that you have Open Graph Protocol enabled and clear the Facebook cache.
(Note I may not have gotten all the terms correct but hope you get the idea.)