Facebook can be very annoying when it doesn't let you select the right preview image for the blog you are trying to share. All of your blog posts should have associated images. They grab attention and help to convey your message, but sometimes Facebook simply ignores the images you use.
Facebook has become a very visual social network and they try to offer all users the best possible shared images from every web page. Sometimes the criteria they use to figure out the best possible image is different than your own; in fact, they only care about image size.
Facebook will always show the images with the largest pixel dimensions as the choices for your link sharing preview images. For example, given the choice of a 500px wide image, a 300px wide image and a 200px wide image, Facebook will likely only show you the 500px wide image as your preview selection.
On the other hand, if your web page has ten images all of 200px width, Facebook will offer all ten images for you to pick from.
If you don't want to leave your Facebook shared preview image to chance, you can use appropriate hidden meta tags to control what image Facebook should use. I won't detail how to program these tags; for that you'll need to use a social media plug-in on your site or talk to your website developer.
The point is that you can use this meta tag to designate which image Facebook should use. This is a really good option since you'll be able to designate this image to be used automatically when other people, beyond your control, share your content to their own Facebook accounts. That's your goal anyway; to get other people other than yourself, to share your content.
Speaking of your social sharing practices, let me tell you about another Facebook annoyance with the preview image selection: something I call the Facebook Proxy Fetch.
As a quick explanation, a proxy is special web server that many businesses use to help protect employees and to speed up an office network. The proxy will save full copies of websites and serve them up to employees much faster than the speed of an internet connection. Proxy servers learn what websites are important to hold copies of in cache, then refresh them on a regular basis.
In order to speed up the way Facebook populates the News Feed, they grab small chunks of information from all the pages that get shared. Those chunks include a few images and several lines of text. They hold that information in a proxy cache because it speeds things up much faster than needing to read and redisplay your web page every time someone scrolls through the News Feed.
Although the Facebook Proxy Fetch is a wonderful way to speed things up, it can cause you some frustrations when you are posting your own blog for the first time. I've lost track of the number of times I had a misspelling in one of my Daily Golden Nugget images, or an incorrect title that I only noticed once I started to post it to Facebook. Sadly, once the Facebook Proxy Fetch grabs your page, there's no easy way to force it to grab a second (corrected) version of it.
In other words, you can't use Facebook as a way to test different thumbnail preview images and headlines because the proxy fetch will only ever use the information from the first fetch.
Last week, one of my customers was having a fit of frustration as she was testing her Facebook post, but it would not show her the updated image from the website. After contacting us for tech support, I realized this was a good topic to write about.
Feel free to send over your website questions, SEO questions, online marketing questions, and even business related questions. I do my best to answer them all when I have time. Some qualifying questions do make it into my Daily Golden Nuggets.