Everybody wants their content to be shared. The best way to encourage this is, of course, to create compelling content. But getting a share is only half the battle—what we really want is for the sharer’s friends and followers to click through and view the content themselves. Then hopefully they’ll be inspired to share it themselves!
Facebook, Twitter and Google+ let you have control over how your content appears when shared. If you take a little time to make sure your content looks appealing in this context, you can increase the chance that people will explore it, making each share more effective.
To illustrate this, tell me—which of the below are you more likely to click?
The left example shows how my own website looks on Facebook by default. With a little effort, I could make it a lot more enticing.
Compelling content with Open Graph
When URLs are shared on social media sites like Facebook, they try to make your content look interesting by generating a rich preview. These services will look at the content and images on your web page and try to mash them up to create a summary. This can work okay but can also be a bit of a disaster if they pick out the wrong paragraph or image to represent your content.
To give you control over these rich previews, Facebook developed the Open Graph protocol. By including Open Graph meta tags on your web page, you can control the image, title and description that Facebook uses when presenting your content. Twitter and Google+ use this information too, so there’s no need to provide alternate markup for these services.
If you want complete control over how your website generates Open Graph information, go and take a look at Damian Mooyman’s Open Graph module. If you prefer to take a shortcut, read on...
Share Care for SilverStripe
The Share Care add-on for SilverStripe builds on the SilverStripe Open Graph module to get you up and running quickly.
Preview appearance of shared content
At its most basic, ShareCare complements the Open Graph module by allowing content editors to preview how their content will look when presented on social media. You can configure the OG module however you like— ShareCare just picks up its output and presents it in the CMS. If your OG tags are generated by hidden or complex logic, this is an easy way to let content authors visualise the result and make sure they’re happy with it.
Edit sharing appearance in the CMS
ShareCare also provides a couple of example configurations for the OG module in the form of optional extensions. They allow you to edit OG tags in the CMS and thus affect the appearance of your content when shared. Fallbacks are provided to ensure pages have reasonable defaults as a starting point. The extensions cater to different needs—one of these may be all you need for your website, but if not you can at least draw on them for inspiration!
Sharing links and more
Share Care can also generate ready to use URLs to share your content on the popular social media services, and has some optional Twitter and Pinterest features.
For all the details on this module check it out on the Add-ons site.
I hope this post encourages you to care a little more about sharing. As always, let me know if you have any feedback in the comments below!
Header photo by Alan Levine.