Trouble sharing links on Facebook? A common problem with multiple solutions

Sharing anything via social media has become mainstream marketing for large companies

Sharing anything via social media has become mainstream marketing for large companies, small webshops and even for your own personal blog. No matter the size or purpose, sharing is important. The importance of sharing links on facebook makes it even more annoying when the sharing doesn’t seem to work like it should. Customers have been contacting us with one or more of the following problems:

  • Facebook doesn’t show the description for the link
  • Facebook doesn’t show images from the link (Note: Obviously, the linked page must actually have images)
  • Facebook shows the wrong image or description
  • Facebook shows an outdated version of the image or description

It may look like this:

It can be frustrating when the desired result (left) is rendered like the link on the right.

There are many reasons for this, and unfortunately the reasons are not always fully obvious. There are many factors at play when facebook reads information from the link you want to share. However, there are a few things you can do to make it work better:

Make sure your website has meta-tags

Facebook checks your websites source-code, looking for some specific meta-tags. These contain information about the link you are sharing. By providing meta-tags in the head of your websites source-code, you can directly tell Facebook what information to use. Just like this:

This is achieved by directly modifiying the source-code, or even better, in the case of a WordPress website you can simply install a plugin. The example below shows WordPress with Yoast SEO (search engine optimization) where you can enable use of metadata while also selecting the image to be used when Facebook cannot detect any other images.

Note: Some WordPress themes specify the “Featured image” to be shared. Others don’t specify anything at all.

Facebook Sharing Debugger

Facebook may have already looked at the shared link and won’t bother checking if it has changed since the last time. This is probably to both avoid bothering your website too much and also decrease loading times on Facebook itself. Facebook has made a tool to check and recheck the information on previously shared links.

The tool can be found here:

1: Paste the full link in the text-field
2: Click “Debug”

You should now see the last known information Facebook found the last time it checked.

3: Click “Scrape again”

Facebook will now check the link again and, hopefully, pick up all updated information. You will see an updated preview of how the link will be shared from now on. Note: Sometimes you may have to click “Scrape again” multiple times to see any changes.

Unless there are other reasons sharing links on facebook doesnt work, the problem should already be solved at this point.

“It still doesn’t work!” or “I have to run the debugger every time!”

If your level of frustration corresponds to this title, then know that you aren’t the only one. At this point, the error is probably with Facebook. There are also reports that some automatic sharing from, soundcloud and some WordPress plugins will experience trouble showing the content correctly.

There are also many reports about “It suddenly worked, all on its own”. This may be due to Facebook doing updates to their systems, fixing bugs or finishing maintenance.

You may also contact Facebook support, or contact the website from which you are trying to share a link.

Now that you’ve probably fixed the problem, you should consider cleaning up your WordPress aswell. Read The WordPress exponent – dealing with slow WordPress.