Checking, and fixing, your article previews on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin

Bugs, zombies, artifacts, and remnants wondering around on social media.

TL;DR: here are some tools you might find useful to edit the social cards of your articles: Facebook Debugger, Linked Inspector, Twitter Card Validator.

What is a social card, aka social preview

When we share our web articles to social media channels, a preview of the article shows up. If we’ve taken care to add a feature image, then this preview, or social card, will often be title, feature image, and excerpt.

Here’s a few screenshots so you can see what these social previews look like, roughly, on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. These cards can look a little different across devices and software. But you get the idea.

(Aside: it’s interesting, to me, how similar they are.)

Twitter share card for an article: In general, hyperlinks should open in the same window.
Screenshot of a Twitter card on desktop, in browser app.
Facebook share card for an article: In general, hyperlinks should open in the same window.
Screenshot of a Facebook card.
Linkedin share card for an article: In general, hyperlinks should open in the same window.
Screenshot of a Linkedin card on desktop.

Editing the article, and updating the social card

Sometimes, after we publish an article, we have to make edits. It happens. And sometimes these edits might affect the feature image, the title, or the excerpt. The challenge occurs if the article has already been shared to a social channel.

Most social media channels have a kind of memory of your article. And updating your article at the source, isn’t enough to get the memory to update.

This happens because social channels like Twitter and Linkedin save certain aspects of our webpages in their local memory from the first time it was shared. They save a feature image, and a title, and sometimes a snippet, or excerpt (and more). They cache and index the data to make their services faster and, ahem, more powerful.1

When we change our source article, sometimes we need to prompt them to “check again” and update the cache of data.

Luckily, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn make it relatively easy these days to check again. Here are three tools that you might find useful. You can use these to prompt the services to scrape new data from your article, but you can also use them to preview your social card before you share. You can preview the preview!

You will have to sign into these respective social channels in order to use them.

https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/

https://www.linkedin.com/post-inspector/

https://cards-dev.twitter.com/validator

Notes

  1. They actually save a bunch more data and metadata – some is public and some is not. But these are the common artifacts of interest.

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