Getting new website preview images on social media
You’ve got a new website you want to share with your connections on LinkedIn; you’ve started a new marketing campaign that’s likely to get traction on Facebook.
In anticipation, because you know what you’re doing on social media, you’ve also update your “og:image” and “og-description” – the two open graph tags that tell social media how to preview your website:
<meta property=”og:title” content=”What social media shows as the title of your website”/>
<meta property=”og:description” content=”What social media shows as the preview text for your website” />
<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://example.com/social/preview.jpg” />
Yet there’s a problem – you’ve been to Facebook and LinkedIn, put your web address in the status box, but the preview information of your website hasn’t updated.
Why not? It’s because social media sites cache information – they store it themselves, rather than load it in afresh every time it’s requested. It’s one of the reasons – apart from huge servers – that these sites are still very fast loading.
So you need to find a way to update social media preview information.
With Facebook it’s relatively easy – use their Open Graph Debugger Tool – put your URL in the box and hit Debug – you may need to do it a couple of times, but you’ll see your new Open Graph information.
UPDATE 2019: LinkedIn has caught up and now has a similar tool to Facebook here: https://www.linkedin.com/post-inspector/ – you can ignore the out of date information below.
LinkedIn doesn’t have this functionality but there’s a simple trick to use. No need to use any developer tools – just add what’s called a parameter to your URL when you put it in LinkedIn’s status box. It won’t do anything bad or take you to a page on your site but will force Linkedin into thinking the page is a new one and re-cache the preview, for example:
and because their system will think it’s a new link it’ll fetch the new preview image. Then simply delete the “?m=” from the URL and the new image will stay there.
You’ll find that this technique of adding a fake parameter to a URL will work on most social media sites if they do not offer a debug URL tool in the same way as Facebook.