Monday, September 23, 2013

Social Sharing - setting up your page

OG social sharing:
a mimeographed self-help file
Social Sharing has been going on for a long time - first, people would send around typewritten, mimeographed jokes, lists, or other neat stuff. Next came the digital world of forwarded chain emails. Then the web, where you could copy and past the URL to a site and either link to it on your home page, or send it by email. Now, social sharing has become embedded into your everyday life. Everyone has seen this: A block of icons we all now know as 'share this page to Facebook, Twitter, email or Google Plus'. Click the button and by magic it's posted on your newsfeed or wall! But how does it work? Unlike magnets, there's no real magic there, just some basic page coding tools.
First, you need to be sure your page is ready to be read by a machine. That means you need a good title in your 'title' tag, proper HTML that mostly validates and maybe a few images on the page that can represent what you are talking about. If you want to get fancy, you can add a couple more tags to more accurately describe your page to Facebook and Google Plus. Those tags are called 'Open Graph Tags'. At the least, you can put a Title, Description and Image for your page up in the head of your page.   of your page. That's as easy as typing the 'title' tag correctly - just key in:

There are five key properties you'll enter in a 'meta' tag:

  • og:type
  • og:url
  • og:title
  • og:image and 
  • og:description

Usually, you are sharing a website page, so that's the type. The url is the absolute URL to this page; useful if you use dynamic navigation or other stuff. It can be ignored though for static websites. Title is pretty self explanatory. The image is the thumbnail shown on the left of the link in the Facebook timeline or Google Plus post. If you leave out the 'description' tag, you end up with the facebook crawler picking some snippet of text from the top third of your webpage. In a lot of modern dynamic websites, that's not really what you want to display to your visitors when they see a link to your site on Facebook or Google Plus.

This is the foundation to having a good, sharable page across all modern social networks, and it sets your page up for being part of the new, wider social graph that Facebook and Google are pulling together to define the new web.
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