Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Facebook Link Posts Changes: How They’ll Affect Bloggers

If you haven’t already heard, there’s a big change coming for Facebook link posts, and here’s what bloggers need to know.

As of Tuesday, Facebook link posts will no longer be editable. This means the content Facebook pulls when it scrapes a website URL is the information Facebook will publish if you use the link post format.

For now, all of us who produce content and want to have link posts on our Facebook pages will just have to deal with it.

First things first: Here’s what Facebook link posts look like

There are two primary options when one wants to publish a post to Facebook that involves more than just text and a link. (As a general rule, a photo will always get more eyes on your posts, because we like to see images rather than just text.)

Here’s what a link post looks like:

In the past, in Facebook link posts, you could not only add a line of text above the post, which I’ve highlighted in yellow in the graphic, but you could also adjust or change the headline (highlighted in red) and the description text that appears below that headline (highlighted in blue).

In the past, you could make those adjustments to better speak to your specific Facebook audience. You could even avoid repetition between the headline and the description text, which often are similar in content in many web stories.

The option to change this content meant you had much more flexibility in communicating with your Facebook fans, and (hopefully) in giving them a good reason to click the link to your blog or to encourage conversation on your page.

(Or both!)

But those days, at least temporarily, are over, according to a post on a Facebook blog.

Effective this Tuesday, any scheduled Facebook posts in third-party services like Buffer and CoSchedule will revert to the original data in the links. Any edits you’ve made for scheduled posts going forward will simply be ignored and the original posts, as Facebook would have populated them, is what your page’s fans will see.

Here’s what Facebook photo posts look like.

In the meantime, you still have the opportunity to control the specific text in a Facebook post with the alternative Facebook photo post.

A photo post involves text (including a link) and a photo. I’ve highlighted both in yellow in the demo. It’s important to note that you have to remember to include the URL for the post in the text, because clicking the photo will not take people to the link: it’ll only open the photo itself.

When you first enter the text and URL, the link will automatically appear, unless you first upload the photo and add the text afterwards.

The difference between the two styles should be obvious: in a photo post, the only text comes before the image and the image appears a bit larger.

The larger visual is a good thing and controlling the message is as well.

It’s just that effective Tuesday, a photo post will be the only way content providers will truly be able to do so.

I tend to prefer photo posts over link posts, anyway. I think that all too often, a link post gives away too much information and discourages people from clicking the link. Keep in mind: I’m not advocating “click-bait,” but rather just trying to remind everyone that getting people to go from your page to your actual website is one of the key points of Facebook.

You do want people to visit your site, not just your Facebook page, right?

This will supposedly help Facebook fight ‘fake news.’

Facebook claims this update will eliminate “a channel that has been used to post false news.”

It turns out many Facebook users who have been spreading false reports have been using the option to edit information contained in link posts to convey false or exaggerated information — likely hoping all the while that the unsuspecting Facebook users they reach would run rampant with the falsified links rather than actually clicking through to the story.

It is part of Facebook’s ongoing efforts to stop the spread of false information — “fake news” — on its platform.

It’s just as easy to spread false information with a photo post, of course. But at the same time, it would look less “official” if it appears the text was written by the poster, and not part of a published story on someone else’s website.

For bloggers, though, this means sharing your content, if you decide to use link posts, may mean you have to adjust your headline and your excerpt text so that Facebook will pull in the details you want it to pull in.

I think a photo post is definitely the way to go.

Incidentally, Facebook says it’s aware this will be a problem for some content producers and marketers:

Over the past few months we worked with publishers and publishing apps…to understand why editing link previews is important to them. We’re working to find other solutions that allow publishers to share customized content on our platform, and we will have more to share in the coming weeks.

So the problem may wind up being short-lived.

Let’s hope so.

Do you share your content on Facebook? Do you prefer link posts or photo posts? How much do you think this change will impact you?

Leave a Response

Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.