Social media is now a key part of every marketing strategy. But in order to successfully leverage social channels to promote your business, you need to be more than just creative.
There are many technical aspects that even non-techie marketers need to be aware of to get the most out of their social media efforts. And even if you have someone on your team dealing with the “technical stuff” you still need to understand everything what’s going on under the hood.
In this article, we’ll go through a list of technical aspects of social media you are bound to come across with and give you the knowledge you need to tackle them more confidently.
Like most marketers today, you probably spend a lot of time producing quality content for your website and your blog. After all, content is at the heart of inbound and it’s what attracts people to your website and your business.
But what happens when someone shares your content on social media sites? Is it eye-catching enough and does it give you the visibility you’re after?
If you want your content to stand out when shared on Facebook, you’re going to have to provide “guidance” to Facebook in terms of what information it should display whenever someone shares a link from your site.
That’s the purpose behind Open Graph protocol. It enables your web pages to become rich objects in the “social graph.” In other words, you need to provide Facebook with tags i.e. snippets of code that it can interpret. The main things you want to specify are the title (og:title), description (og: description), and the image (og:image) that appears when your pages are shared.
The og:title tag tells Facebook what your page or object is about and how it should be displayed within the social graph.
Example: <meta property=”og:title” content=”why you need outbound for inbound marketing”/>
The og:description tag tells social media users more about your page and, if written well, can get more people to click on your link and visit your page.
Example: <meta property=”og:description” content=” Here’s why you shouldn’t be either inbound or outbound marketer. You need to be both!”/>
The og:image tag lets you specify the URL of an image that will be included with the content that is shared in the social graph. We all know that content with images stands out in newsfeed!
Example: <meta property=”og:image” content=” http://6b7o7u172h-flywheel.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/Small-img.jpg” />
There are many other optional tags that you can include to describe your content, but the ones above are an absolute must!
To use the Open Graph protocol, you need to add tags into the <head> section of the HTML of your website. If you are using WordPress, there are handy plugins that add Facebook Open Graph Meta tags to your site. Plugins like these will make the implementation of og tags much easier for you!
Twitter cards are similar to Open Graph tags but they’re used specifically for Twitter. There are two main types of cards available for social media – summary cards which include title, description, and thumbnail, and summary cards with large image which are the same as summary cards but with a more noticeable image.
When someone shares your content, a ‘Twitter Card’ will be added to your content so that Twitter includes more information in the post. The easiest way to add Twitter Cards to your pages is with a WordPress plugin like Yoast WordPress SEO.
All you need to do is enable Twitter Cards in Yoast, enter your Twitter account to be associated with the card, and select the default card to use. However, if you plugins are not available for the blogging platform you use, you can prepare the cards yourself and then have someone from your dev team add them to your website’s code.
Twitter provides a tool to help you create the tags, and it also validates that you’ve set up the code correctly. You can also use the KnowEm Social Media Optimizer tool to see if your content is properly optimized.
I wrote a detailed post about setting up Twitter Cards that will guide you through the process step by step.
Note: When using Opengraph data to describe data on a page you can combine Open Graph/Twitter Card so that you are not duplicating both. See here for an example of this.
You’ve visited a certain website and, after a while, you start seeing their ads in your Facebook feed. It seems like they’re talking to you directly because the ads are about a specific product/service you were looking at. Facebook Pixel makes this type of targeting possible!
So, what is Facebook Pixel? It is a piece of code you insert on your website and it helps you track Facebook ads conversion, build custom audiences, and remarket to people who already took some action on your site.
With Facebook pixel, you can gather data on a set of nine events that Facebook has predefined, or you can specify custom events e.g. actions that visitors take on your website and that are important for your business to track.
It may sound complicated, but it’s actually easy to create your Facebook pixel. Just go to Facebook Ads Manager and choose Pixels from the menu.
Next you’ll click on Create a Pixel, add a name to your pixel that is going to be representative of your business, and click next.
Now that you have your pixel ready you’ll want to add it to your website and you’ll do this by installing the code to your pages. You can either copy and paste the code or use a Tag Manager plugin to insert the pixel code.
As with other snippets of code we talked about earlier in this article, you can add them yourself or ask your developer to do it for you.
Here’s how you can do it yourself:
Copy and paste the code into the header code of your website’s HTML – this means that the pixel code has to be placed between the opening header tag <head> and the closing </head> tag. You’ll have to repeat this for every page on your website.
You can learn more about setting up Facebook pixels and using them for conversion tracking in this article.
UTM Parameters let you understand the sources of your traffic and they are particularly useful for tracking traffic from your social media campaigns. Let’s say you are sharing the same link to a blog post on different social media platforms – how will you know which platform drove most traffic to that blog post? By adding UTM parameters to the URL!
You can add UTM parameters to a URL with the help of Google’s Campaign URL Builder. The tool will let you add unique identifiers or tags to the URL so you can easily track your campaigns in Google Analytics.
There is a form with several fields you need to fill out, including a URL to your blog post, Campaign Source (e.g. Twitter, Facebook), Campaign Medium (e.g. social post, ad, etc.), and Campaign Name. For paid ad campaigns you can also add keywords and ad copy to differentiate ads.
Here’s an example of a campaign URL with UTM tags:
In the URL Builder you can also convert the URL to a shortlink for social sharing purposes. After a few days, Google will gather the data and you’ll be able to track the performance of the UTM links you shared in your GA account under the Campaigns section.
Your social media efforts would be completely wasted if you didn’t have a way to track, measure, and analyze them. Social media analytics helps you understand relevant social data and interpret the results so you can optimize your efforts accordingly.
There are so many different things we need to monitor on social media, and things can get quite confusing even for the savvy marketer. That is why I created the Social Media Analytics Compass to help marketers understand the essential areas they need to monitor for their social media channels.
The metrics you’ll decide to track and analyze will largely depend on the specific needs of your business. Once you decide what you need to monitor, you’ll need to find the right tool(s) that will provide you with the most relevant reports.
Each social media platform has its own analytics tools that you can tap into, like Twitter analytics or Facebook Insights, but there are also a number of third-party tools that you can use to analyze the performance of your social accounts.
For example, Simply Measured provides a social media reporting platform that supports a broad range of social networks. A tool like Rival IQ can help you compare your social media performance to those of your competitors. And, of course, you can use Google Analytics to measure social media initiatives.
Embedded social media posts
You must have seen this many times by now in different online publications – relevant tweets embedded in the content. It’s such a popular practice that you must have wondered how you can do it yourself to enrich your blog posts.
This is actually pretty easy to do once you know all the steps. First you need click on the down pointing arrow in the top right corner of the tweet. There you’ll see a menu of options. Choose the “Embed tweet” option and copy the provided code. All you need to do then is open the WordPress post where you want to embed the tweet and simply paste the code. Easy, right?
Here’s an example of embedded tweet:
You can also do this with Facebook posts. Find the post you’d like to embed and click on the three dots in the top right corner. Choose the embed option, copy the code and paste it in your WordPress HTML editor. And that’s it!
Here’s one more trick to make that Facebook post stand out in your content. To make it appear at the center of your post, add <center> and </center> around the whole HTML snippet.
What we discussed in this article are some of the essential technical aspect of social media that every marketer needs to at least be aware of. I hope I helped you understand them better so you can confidently use them to improve your social media results.
Are there any other technical details related to social media that I didn’t cover and you’d love to learn more about? Share in the comments bellow!