Who said Image is Everything?

It was in 1989 when a young up-and-coming American tennis star named Andre Agassi, on the set of a commercial shoot in the Nevada desert, stepped out of a white Lamborghini, lowered his sunglasses, and said, “Image is everything.”

Agassi was referring to a camera, the subject of the commercial, but in a round about way he was also foretelling the future and referring to all aspects of social media. For when it comes to promoting your book, business, shop, restaurant or anything else for that matter on social media, image is crucial.

Nobody wants to visit a restaurant which is rat infested and nobody wants to buy flowers from a florist where all the flowers in the shop window are dead. Image is, indeed, everything. And as you can see from the image at the top of the page, no image is bad but an image that doesn’t fit and all you get is a picture of someone’s bald head is worse.

If you use Twitter or Facebook, both of these platforms will attempt to show an image only if they are instructed to do so. And if the image is the wrong size for them to display, you will indeed end up with an odd looking image. So how do you go about ensuring that your postings show an image and in the correct dimensions? Read on, dear reader, and I’ll explain.

When you’re making a posting to Twitter or Facebook, both these platforms will search for websites where you have used a URL in your text. URL means Uniform Resource Locator. It’s a link to a website, so mine is https://www.tom-kane-author.website/ and when I type this into my posting Twitter and Facebook will go to the website and retrieve data from it… assuming there is something there for them to do so. Because many websites don’t actually specify any details and so what you get is a blank image in the placement, as with the image I used from Twitter and as the header for this piece.

So, how do you tell Twitter and Facebook what image you want to display?

Twitter needs something called Card metadata and Facebook requires Open Graph markups . Confused? Well, let me make it simpler. Ignore Twitter because (as at the time of writing) they will look for Facebook’s open graph markups if they can’t see their own metadata on your website.

At this point, let’s just stop and think about what happens when you type in a website URL into a Tweet. Twitters little bot scurries off and locates the website you have just entered, and it reads the data on your index page, that’s your home page to you and me. Here’s what the bot is looking for when I Tweet out my URL:-

I type into my Tweet https://www.tom-kane-author.website/ and Twitters bot goes to my site and looks for this data on my index page

<meta property=”fb:app_id” content=”your_fb_app_id” />
<meta property=”og:url” content=”https://www.tom-kane-author.website/” />
<meta property=”og:image” content=”https://www.tom-kane-author.website/images/brittle-sea.jpg” />
<meta property=”og:image:width” content=”828″ />
<meta property=”og:image:height” content=”468″ />
<meta property=”og:description” content=”Paperbacks and eBooks by author Tom Kane” />
<meta property=”og:type” content=”website” />
<meta property=”og:title” content=”Author Tom Kane” />
<meta property=”og:locale” content=”en_US” />

I’ve highlighted the meta property that matters. But pay attention to lines 4 & 5. This is your image size, so make sure your image matches these sizes which are in pixels.

The first highlighted line is my website URL. Second is the name and location of the jpg image I want displayed on Twitter and Facebook. Third is the description I want displayed on Twitter or Facebook and fourth is the title I want displayed.

All pretty simple stuff and you can edit this with a text editor like Windows notepad. Then all you have to do is put this information in the header of your web page.

If you have no idea what or where the header is, then you have a problem. I use a variety of ways to create a website, from Adobe Muse to WordPress and each has a unique way of getting metadata such as I’ve just described into the header. Here is how Adobe Muse does it in the page properties.

In WordPress.org websites I use a plugin, which makes life a little easier.

It may look a little daunting at first, but at least if you try and get this meta data right you’re social media postings may attaract a bigger audience.

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