The Complete Guide to Optimizing Your WordPress Site for Sharing on Facebook
Many website are deriving quite a bit of traffic from readers who share posts on Facebook. Enthusiastic recommendations from others on Facebook can be one of the most effective marketing tools available to your business, given that Facebook’s global audience continues to grow by millions every year.
In this article we’ll cover seven key ways to optimize your site for when people share it on Facebook. You don’t need to go overboard and implement all of the tips below. Hopefully you’ll find one or two new ways to make your content easier to share on the world’s current most popular social network.
1. Tell Facebook which thumbnails to show when a post or page is shared
You want to be able to put your best foot forward when your content is linked to from within Facebook. Images are often far more powerful than post titles. You can actually use a plugin to tell Facebook which thumbnail should be associated with your content when it’s shared.
The Facebook Thumbnails plugin works behind the scenes to modify blog and post output to prevent Facebook from making assumptions as to what thumbnails to include. By default, this plugin will show the avatar of the post author. The best thing is that this plugin requires zero configuration – my favorite kind! Simply install and activate.
The Facebook Opengraph plugin does something a little different. If you have multiple images on the page, you oftentimes have no control over which of those will be offered for display. The same goes for the description. This plugin uses Facebook’s OpenGraph protocol to define a set of meta tags by which you can give additional information such as product name, description, image or name associated with the site.
2. Make use of the new Facebook Send button
Ronnie wrote a great tutorial this week, demonstrating how to add the new Facebook Send button to your WordPress site.
If editing template files is not your thing, you can get this same functionality from a plugin. Try the Facebook Send plugin or the Facebook Like and Send Button plugin. There are many others, so you’ll just want to test and find one that works well with your theme.
3. Add the Facebook Share button
The Facebook “share” button is the one that allows users to share your content the same way that one would paste the link onto their status update. The Facebook share button comes packaged with many popular social sharing plugins for WordPress, such as Sharedaddy, ShareThis or AddToAny. You can also get a plugin that provides just the Facebook share button for a more customized implementation of the button on your site. Try Simple Facebook Share Button for this.
4. Add the Facebook Like button
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The Facebook Like button is sometimes confused with the share button, but it’s very different in how it appears on Facebook, as you can see in the image above. You can easily add it using any number of plugins – ie. Facebook Like Button.
A different spin on the Facebook Like button is to add a Facebook Like Box to your site, as we do here:
It displays others who have liked the page and gives more of a community feel to liking a page or business than just the simple like button. You can get a Facebook Like box on your site by getting the embed code directly from Facebook or by using a plugin such as Facebook Like Box Widget.
5. Allow users to log in and/or register using Facebook
When users are already logged into your site using Facebook, sharing becomes much easier since they don’t have to log into Facebook separately. Using a Facebook Connect button for creating accounts will help you to get linked up with users who are already used to sharing content on Facebook.
6. Get your WordPress site and Facebook Fan Page working seamlessly
Fanpage Connect is a relatively new plugin that allows you to create fan pages directly from your WordPress dashboard. It has shortcodes for showing liked and non-liked content, supports WordPress custom menus, and even supports templates specifically designed to fit the fan page iFrame.
Use your WordPress site to design your Facebook Fanpage and keep people connected to your updates by sharing through your Facebook fanpage.
This plugin’s development team is working hard to include more features and updates on a regular basis. Since its release in mid-March, ti’s had over 3,200 downloads. Check it out on the Fanpage Connect website.
7. Display Recent Facebook Visitors
Keep your users sharing your content on Facebook as part of a community by displaying people who have recently visited your site with the Was Here Recent Readers Widget plugin. The widget is actually part of a Facebook application that tracks users that visit your blog and displays their current Facebook profile pictures. You can style this widget to make it look like a completely natural part of your website.
There are many more creative ways to leverage the power of Facebook to drive traffic to your WordPress. This guide provides you with the most popular basic tools that many WordPress sites have implemented successfully. Make sure to bookmark it and share it on Facebook! ;)