You’ve done it. You hit publish. Your masterpiece – whether it’s a new homepage, services description, or blog – is ready to be shared on social media. But when you do, it doesn’t look right. Maybe the image doesn’t show up. Or the title displays incorrectly. So let’s take a look at why your link previews aren’t working, and how to fix it.
What is a Link Preview?
The information that your link displays on social media is known as meta-data. It’s typically the same information Google sees too, in regards to your page title and page description. Social media also adds a thumbnail preview. Taking advantage of this thumbnail image is important because it makes a link far more engaging. You can also add relevant images to entice people: a product shot, more detail than you can fit in the title, and more.
So when your social media link previews are broken, it’s because the web page’s metadata isn’t set up properly.
Before you can fix a preview, your page needs:
- A featured image, header, or designated ‘thumbnail’. The setup and naming of this will depend on the platform. On WordPress, your ‘featured image’ will be the preview. Squarespace talks about a ‘thumbnail’ or ‘banner’.
- Don’t know how to do this? Ask your web team to show you how. If you publish blog posts or new product pages yourself, you’ll want to be able to control this.
- An accurate page title. You can check this in your browser tab. Does it reflect what the page is? Is it enticing to click on?
- An enticing page description that adds more context. This is also known as your meta description.
Make sure your page title and meta description are optimised for Google AND social media. You can test how it looks in search results with a free snippet tool like this.
But often, after you fix your metadata or update your preview image, you’ll try to share the link again… Only to realise that it still doesn’t work or still shows the old image! What gives?
This is because once you (or anyone) has shared a link on social media, or even through your scheduling tool, the platform creates a ‘memory’ (called a cache) of what the link preview looks like. When millions of links are being shared on a daily basis, this helps social media platforms and tools work more efficiently and without unnecessary server load.
So to fix your social media link previews, you’ll have to ask the social media platform to re-check it. Here’s how to do that across the major platforms.
If you’re only trying to share on one platform, I recommend putting the same URL through all the platforms, anyway. This’ll make sure it’s up-to-date if anyone else shares links, too.
How to Fix Link Previews on Facebook
Facebook’s link preview tool is called the ‘Debugger’. It checks for all sorts of things and gives you helpful feedback on what exactly is missing where. It’s the most comprehensive tool in terms of feedback.
But like all the tools, you just have to paste the URL you’re fixing into the bar and hit the ‘debug’ button.
Then, force it to refresh the preview by clicking ‘Scrape Again’. If it still doesn’t work, double-check that your website page has been updated with the new metadata and that you’re using a fresh instance of Facebook. If you already had the post in progress on your Facebook page and just try pasting in the link again, it won’t work. Load Facebook again.
How to Fix Link Previews on LinkedIn
On LinkedIn, your handy tool is called the ‘Inspector’. Unlike Facebook’s Debugger, you don’t need to take any secondary action. Typically, clicking ‘Inspect’ will refresh the preview for you without any issues.
How to Fix Link Previews on Twitter
Links on Twitter are known as ‘cards’, so it’s no surprise the preview tool is called the ‘Card Validator’. Again, you just have to paste in the URL and choose ‘Preview Card’. Starting to see a pattern here, eh?
Pro-tip: make sure your link is at the end of your tweet. It’ll look neater. It still uses characters from your 280 character limit, but it won’t show the URL in the tweet. Just the card:
How to Fix Link Previews in Hootsuite & Other Scheduling Tools
As our social media management tool of choice, we’ve got used to a few quirks on Hootsuite. To fix a link preview in Hootsuite, you should try to empty the link cache.
As a quick fix, you can also try just adding a # or ? to the end of the URL, which makes Hootsuite think it’s a new link. So for example, using https://www.socialink.co/# is different from https://www.socialink.co/ – at least to Hootsuite it is. Normally, # and ? are ‘indicators’ that change the data or direct someone to a specific part of a page. In this instance, they don’t have any effect at all.
Failing that, you might just have to post your content directly through the platform itself. If the problem continues, contact support. They can normally force a preview refresh, too.
It’s frustrating when you finally launch a page, only for it to fall short of expectations when you share the link on social media. Hopefully, this quick crash-guide to fixing broken link previews helps you now, or the next time it happens. If you really want to make the most of your social media marketing, don’t forget we offer a free social media audit to analyse and report on your brand’s social media presence and activities.
Want to talk about how to make your social media look more appealing to your customers? Grab a FREE Digital Marketing Consultation to talk about where you’re at, and where you want to be.