Funny, we’ve had the Facebook Like button along the side of every Buffer blog post for the past several years. And I don’t think I’ve ever clicked it.

I’ve hoped that others would, of course. I hope they click all the share buttons. But until now, I’ve never known what that experience was like for the end-user.

What’s it like to actually share a story to Facebook?

And how can I make it a better experience?

We talk a lot about reversing the decline in organic Facebook reach and succeeding with Facebook marketing. Maybe we’ve been overlooking a quick win right under our noses. The Facebook share button could be a huge opportunity to delight a reader with a seamless sharing experience, one in which you can control the look, feel, and message of what gets shared.

Come along to see what I learned (and what I’ve fixed) when I clicked on my own Facebook share button.

facebook sharing 101

What happens when a reader clicks the Facebook Like button?

Each post on the Buffer blog has social share buttons that sit along the left side of the post (via the Digg Digg plugin for WordPress). Share button No. 3 is the Facebook like button.



Now for the moment of truth. What happens when someone clicks the Facebook Like button on a Buffer blog post? Drumroll please …

Facebook Like button response

Not a whole lot.

In fact, to the naked eye, nothing happened whatsoever beyond the share number going up by one and the Like button changing to a checkmark.

Let’s hop over to my Facebook page. There are no new updates in my News Feed to tell others that I liked this awesome blogpost. No notifications, no alerts. To find any evidence that I clicked at all, one would have to scroll 50 percent of the way down the page, past my About section, my photos, my friends, my places, my music, my movies, my TV shows, my books, and my groups, all the way to the very last item in the left sidebar: Recent Activity.

Facebook recent activity

Phew. That’s a long ways down.

Edit: A helpful commenter pointed out that your likes and activity do appear in various places on your friends’ and followers’ newsfeeds and tickers, as the Facebook algorithm sees fit.

It’s worth noting that the Facebook Like experience on your blog might be different than it is on Buffer’s. When I ran the Like experiment by clicking on buttons elsewhere, a share box popped up after I clicked “Like.” You can see this in action at the KISSmetrics blog, for instance, and on the footer share button here at Buffer. Point being: Test your Like button on your own blog to see what happens.

What happens when a reader clicks the Facebook Share button?

OK, new strategy.

How about if we change the Facebook Like button to a Facebook Share button? (Fortunately, there’s an easy setting inside of the Digg Digg plugin to do just that.)



Now that we’ve got the Share button live on the blogpost, what happens when we click it?

Voila! A Facebook Share box arrives.


This is likely the box that bloggers expect to show up when someone clicks a Facebook button. Readers get to choose where the message is shared, what they want to say about it, and which picture to use as the thumbnail. After all these options are chosen, the post will show up at the very top of the News Feed on a profile page, and in the News Feeds of all one’s friends (depending on the Facebook algorithm, of course).

Facebook share box news feed

Takeaway: “Liking” and “Sharing” on Facebook are two totally different experiences.

What happens when a reader shares a story directly on Facebook?

Let’s continue our Goldilocks trip through Facebook sharing with the most native of share options: Posting a link directly via your Facebook page.

Assuming that there were no Facebook share buttons anywhere on a page and that you really wanted to pass the page along to your Facebook friends, what would you do? You’d grab the URL, head to, and share the link yourself.

Here’s what that looks like when I share a blogpost directly on Facebook.


The experience is almost exactly the same as it was for the Facebook Share button. You get to choose who sees your update, what you say about it, and which picture is used as the thumbnail. Here’s the finished product as it appears in my News Feed.


Liking or Sharing: Which strategy is preferable?

After reading this far, you may have already chosen your preferred style of Facebook button. Your preference probably has to do with what you hope to gain from your social share buttons, and it’s important to note that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to liking vs. sharing. Each has its own virtues.

The Like button is good for social proof.

There is power in seeing 600+ Facebook Likes on an article you wrote. The psychological explanation behind this is wisdom of the crowds, where large groups of people approving a certain something (a blogpost, for instance) motivates others to do the same. There may even be a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out), an anxiety from new readers that they need to read this article to catch up with what everyone else has found so great.

The Like button is almost entirely frictionless.

Did you notice how little effort it took for me to complete the process of Liking a blogpost? If you want to make the experience as absolutely easy as possible for your readers, it doesn’t get much easier than the one-click Like button. There’s no messages to create, no networks to navigate. It’s just a simple, easy click.

The Share button gets your content maximum exposure.

If you want your story to be seen in more News Feeds, then go with the Share button. Liking a post keeps the post relatively hidden on one’s profile. Sharing a post puts the content front-and-center. (And the rest is up to Facebook’s algorithm to disperse.)

Smashing Magazine ran an interesting experiment on their popular blog, removing all Facebook buttons and trusting readers to share posts on Facebook individually when they found them worth sharing. The results:

The Share button lets you customize the visuals and message.

Not only will Sharing a post put your content in front of more eyes, your content can look by-and-large how you want it. You can customize the title and description that Facebook grabs as well as the series of pictures that it uses to pull thumbnails.

Here’s how the customization process works in detail.

How to control what happens when someone shares your post to Facebook

OK, here’s the fun part.

You can make your post a Facebook work-of-art with just a few simple tweaks to the code and the images on your page.

Facebook sharing 101: A primer on “og” tags

The engineering behind this customization comes from Facebook’s Open Graph, a system that lets third-party websites (like your blog) speak Facebook’s language when the two communicate. Facebook uses Open Graph functionality on its own network, and outside websites that do the same can create Facebook-optimized updates in a snap.

(Open Graph elements are used by other social networks, too, to customize the sharing that happens there.)

These Open Graph elements are represented in the code with “og” tags (“og” stands for, you guessed it, Open Graph). There are three main tags that deal with the look of a Facebook update.

  • og:image
  • og:title
  • og:description

og tags facebook

We’ve found that the easiest way to implement Open Graph code on our blogposts is to use an all-in-one WordPress plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast that handles the Open Graph elements automatically. In our experience, it works almost perfectly—with the exception of images. I’ll tackle that one below.

How to check the “og” tags on your blogpost

Before we begin, it might be handy to know if you already have these Open Graph tags in place. To quickly find out, you can inspect the code of your page to see what’s going on behind the scenes.

In your browser, right-click anywhere on the page and select “Inspect Element.”

Then look in the <head> section near the top of your HTML code. Inside the <head> should be some tags that begin with “<meta property=…” Inside these, you’ll find your “og” tags.

og image code

You can also check the tags on your content by using Facebook’s Open Graph Object Debugger. This free tool will analyze your page and show you what data Facebook will pull (as well as any errors). Also, if you’re ever in need of resetting the cache for your page, plugging the URL into the Debugger tool tells Facebook to go check your page again for updates.

How to customize the title on your Facebook article

To create a specific title for your Facebook shares, use the og:title tag.

Best practice here is to keep the title to no more than 90 characters. If your title is longer than 100 characters, Facebook will cut it off at 88.

You can think of this og:title like you would the SEO title for your post. In fact, if an og:title isn’t present, Facebook will grab the SEO title instead. All the best headline-writing advice applies here, as you’ll want to make the most of the bigger, bolder fonts that Facebook uses in article titles.

As an example of what this og:title might look like, here is the code from the blogpost featured in the screengrab above.

<meta property=”og:title” content=”What Does a Community Champion Do at Buffer? An Inside Look”>

If you click over to the post itself, you’ll notice that the actual headline used on the post is “What Is a Community Champion? Inside the World of Buffer’s Community Builder.” We went with a slightly shorter version for the og:title tag for Facebook.

How to customize the description on your Facebook article

To create a specific description for your Facebook shares, use the og:description tag.

Much like the meta description for your page, this sentence or two should serve as a good introduction to your content. Make it exciting and intriguing—and no need to fill it up with too many keywords because there is no SEO factor here.

Make the first few words count. In the example above, Facebook only revealed 79 characters before cutting off the description. In other cases, you might see up to 200. To play it safe, pack your description with impactful words first.

Here’s an example of what the description tag might look like:

<meta property=”og:description” content=”&quot;What is a community champion?&quot; It’s a question I hear a lot. My response is, &quot;I send out love to our customers all day.&quot; But it’s so much more than that!”>

How to customize the images on your Facebook article

Here’s where things get a little tricky for us.

If you have all your “og” code in place for your piece of content and your content happens to contain a lot of images that are all tagged og:image, what might you expect to happen?

I expected each image to be available as a thumbnail option. I was wrong. There are only three.

facebook gif

I tested this with the Social Media Strategy post on Buffer, as well as with some blogposts from other sites like KISSmetrics, Quick Sprout, and Hubspot. The results: There are always only three images to choose from, despite the code containing more than three og:image tags.

So which ones does Facebook choose?

In my limited experimentation, I believe Facebook chooses your three largest images. 

That’s a good bit of information to know. In my case, most of my largest images are screengrabs, not the custom images I create for each post. It seems that the images I make in Canva and other custom apps are being outshone by some ultra-specific screenshots. Definitely not ideal.

So what are we to do?

Well, there are a couple options.

  1. You can ensure that the three largest images on your page (typically in terms of height/width) are the three images you most want to be shared by Facebook.
  2. You can adjust the og:image code to show only the one, two, or three images you want.

The latter option may require a unique plugin that lets you manually change the og:image tags for each piece of content. There are a few plugins out there—like WP Open Graph and the official Facebook plugin—that let you do this fairly easily.

And whatever method you choose to use, you’ll likely want to create some images that are meant to look good on Facebook. I’ll leave the design part up to you, but I can answer the question, “What image size is best?

Well, in a perfect world, our Facebook shares would look like this:

Facebook share 1

Instead of this:

Facebook share 2

We want the large, banner photo because it’s those kinds of photos that seem to instinctually draw the most interest and engagement.

To get this banner photo, Facebook recommends that images be at least 1,200 pixels wide by 630 pixels tall. This aspect ratio works out to 1.91:1. You can go as small as 600 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall and still have it appear as a featured image, but in general, you’ll want to get your pics as big as you can so they look good on high-definition monitors.

The takeaway: Create big, beautiful images at an ideal aspect ratio, and make sure they’re bigger than the rest of the images in your post. This is your best bet for getting the Facebook share style you crave.

How does your content look when it’s shared to Facebook?

Have you clicked your own Share and Like buttons?

I was really interested to learn the experience of sharing from the Buffer blog. It was not at all what I expected and a bit of a challenge to get it all working perfectly. In the end, changing the way I go about creating my images and being purposeful with how we set up our share buttons were big improvements for the shareability of our blog posts.

Feel free to share this post to see some of the changes in action. 🙂

Which of these tips might you try out on your content? Have you been using Open Graph tags for your blogposts and web pages? I’d be keen to hear your experience in the comments!

Image credits: William Hook

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Written by Kevan Lee

Director of marketing at Buffer, the social media publishing tool for brands, agencies, and marketers. We’ve got a new podcast! ?

  • Excellent read…it’s amazing that facebook’s default button in the Digg Digg plugin for WordPress is so lame. They should read this and make some updates.

  • I saw shares for my articles go way up after I removed social media buttons too. With the added bonus of more signups to my newsletter (since that’s now all you can do at the bottom of each article on my site).

    • Hi there, Paul! Really interesting stuff! Curious, how did you arrive at the decision to remove the buttons? Seems like it must have taken some courage – it’s a major against-the-flow move! Really happy you saw great results from it. 🙂 (And now mulling it over for the Buffer blog, too.)

      • It was on a whim – I was both sick of advertising other companies on my site (I have nothing against social media companies) and wanted to see if it impacted my newsletter signups.

        Based on a rudimentary # of blog page views vs. # of signups, I saw an increase in signups right away. So it paid off. Then I realized my top referrers were still FB+Twitter at around the same amount, so that didn’t even decrease.

        Win-win for minimalism and goal reaching, ha.

  • Great article Kevan. Great in-depth research. Keep up the great work. All the best Matt

    • Thanks, Matt! 🙂

  • Kevan, you continue to be THE rock star of social media information! I’ve often wondered how Facebook decides which images to show on posts, and your theory and solution sounds like just the ticket! Thank you for thinking like and writing for we mere mortals who are trying to make social media work to our benefit without going insane.

    • Hi Toni! Thank you so much for your comment! Really glad that some of these articles are turning out helpful for you. 🙂

  • Awesome post ! How about the like + share button.. when I click this button .. the number of likes increase.. and also the share box opens up. I did just that at the bottom of your page. So is that a share button or a like button. 🙂

    • Ah, great one, Kapil! Thanks so much for the comment! I’d noticed the hybrid Like button on a couple other sites, too — and sure enough, you spotted it here on the Buffer blog! Amazing!

      I think you’re exactly right. There appears to be a hybrid Like/Share. I’ll need to dig into some research on this one to find out exactly how this all works. I’ll keep you in the loop!

      • I would like to be in said loop, too 😉

        • You got it!

          • Anything on this? I have 2 new blogs that could really benefit from this as our facebook exposure is lagging so far behind Twitter and G+

      • I must say, this post is indeed a clever and (un) forced way of getting a large number of likes. 🙂

        • Haha, unintentional growth hack?

  • Lynn Fleck

    Really valuable info Kevan! Thanks for the research!

    • You got it, Lynn! Thanks!

  • Hi Kevan,
    I read with pleasure your articles. Information is always useful for me.

  • Great Post Kevan. Google too has a G+1 sign, but the advantage with that is that the moment we click on it increases the count as well as opens a new window where we can share it to our G+ followers.

    • Hi there, Kunjal! Yes, great one! The Google+ “+1” button is a pretty smooth experience, if I may say so. Really enjoy sharing with it. 🙂

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  • Iosif

    It may only be my own experience as an end user, but as I read articles on many blogs, every day, I found the Like button to be a better solution. Let me explain:

    When I like an article and hit the Like button on the blog, there is no post on my timeline, yet it appears in news feed as an activity. My friends can see it, and I don’t have to share it. Given the fact that I read dozens of articles, it’s a very good thing. So this allows me to tell people about the articles I read, without having to share everything on my own timeline. It’s much more convinient for me.

    When I see the Share button on a blog, I feel constrained and I skip it. I don’t want dozens of articles on my timeline everyday, only on my News Feed.

    • Hi there! Thanks so much for the incredible detail here. Makes complete sense why you might prefer Liking over Sharing!

      And really interesting about the Likes showing up in the News Feed. I’ll head back to my Facebook labs to try this one out! 🙂 Thanks for the tip!

  • Great article. One thing I’ve always wondered: how can I track who is sharing my content. The other days I had tons of traffic coming in from FB but couldn’t determine who shared my article. I want to be able to thank people. With Pinterest or Twitter I can see the actual post but it’s not the case with FB. Suggestions?

    • Gonna dig into this one, John, and see what I can find out!

  • Fortunately the Facebook button in the plugin I use uses the share and not like function. I use the Shateholic plugin.

    • Hi there Hugh! Great tip on the Shareaholic plugin! Thanks! And I appreciate the heads up about Digg Digg for mobile. Sounds like an area where maybe we could improve!

      • I’ve shared your article because you make a great point but people should check to see what the function of the Facebook share button on their page does. Many of them are already coded to share rather than like.

        The reason I mentioned the Digg Digg app was because when I read your post I was on mobile and that means I didn’t see the Digg Digg Facebook button but the ones in a row below the post.

        One thing worth noting is that many of the buttons say “Like” as the Digg Digg button does but they still offer the share functionality.

        EDIT: Actually, now that I see your Digg Digg bar since I’m on a desktop now, that Facebook button doesn’t share but only likes.

  • Jen Hames-Beliveau

    Really interesting article. I was especially intrigued by the info about how to check the og: tags on your blog.

    The other day, I tried to share my most recent blog post ( on FB and the title/description/image were all off. I went back and manually changed everything through the Yoast SEO plugin but I guess I tried to share too quickly because the changes had not yet been recognised (and I hadn’t read your great article about how to use the FB debugger tool to reset the cache!).

    I tried sharing the same post today and everything looked fine. But when I checked the URL in the FB debugger tool, I got an open graph warning that said “The ‘og:title’ property should be explicitly provided, even if a value can be inferred from other tags.” (And the same thing for the description and image). Any ideas?

    • Hmm, that’s an interesting one, Jen! I’m not sure what might be amiss there. Curious if maybe you’ve found a solution in the meantime? I’d be keen to hear where you’re at with this!

  • aanchal mehta

    You’ve explained it an amazing way, Paul. But I personally prefer a Facebook (Like + Share) button. That’s more useful I feel as the number rises with the Like as well as when the person shares it on their profiles

    • Sounds like a great option! Seems like the Like + Share button might be ideal here! Do you use a particular plugin for this button?

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  • tonixx

    You can easily add sharing buttons to your site using

  • FirefoxGuru

    Sigh, I really hate when people are outright wrong on the internet, and then write viral blogs about it, and then Publishers pick up on them and re-post without any validation. -.- My comment is as follows to the article.

    ‘Wow, Kevan Lee, is so wrong on many levels here. As an avid Facebook, external ‘Like’ button user and a person who deals with Web Development code, I (and I’m sure many others) find it MUCH more efficient and intuitive to instantly disperse content via the ‘Like’ or ‘Recommend’ buttons we’ve all come to know and love (My eyes light up every time I see a site us them :)). Here’s why:

    1. When you click the ‘Like’ or ‘Recommend’ button on an external site, that ‘Liked’ article’s thumbnail gets displayed in your *Newsfeed*, your friends Newsfeeds (depending on how much interaction they have with yourself on FB), some of your friend’s *Tickers* (the side bar we all love for stalking behaviour, oh and also keeping up-to-date with latest posts ofc), as well as being displayed under your *Recent Activity* on your timeline and *Activity Log* (for easy searchable access/hotlink back to that particular semi-automated post – so you’ll find it hard to lose that convo thread any time soon +1).

    2. MOST IMPORTANTLY, you can add a comment to the ‘Liked’ or ‘Recommended’ article (Example:; if you have the latest Like Button Social Plugin implemented for your site/blog. ( – Don’t go using outdated shit if you want this optimal UX in sharing articles w/ status commenting ability.

    3. It’s one click to ‘Like’ or ‘Recommend’, a few keystrokes to type a comment/status, and then another click to post A DEDICATED (visible) post to your timeline. With ONLY a ‘Share’ button, you may as well shoot your sharing users in the feet ten times; i) They have to click a button which offers no internal functionality on the page itself. ii) Wait for a popup box/window to load from FB. iii) Finally write what they wanted as a comment. (If they haven’t already forgotten). iv) Finally click ‘Share link’. Note: The post doesn’t even appear as a ‘Like’ this way, so you’re actually limiting the reach of potential users that post could have hit in the Ticker, Newsfeed and Recent Activity sections for that ‘Like’ or ‘Recommend’, ofc, once you choose to post a ‘Liked’ or ‘Recommended’ with a comment, it becomes just like any other post on your Timeline, Newsfeed and Ticker. Why not have the best of both worlds; dedicated status post + Recent Activity ‘Like’ or ‘Recommend’?

    I’ve been curious as to how much prevalence just a ‘Liked’ or ‘Recommended’ (without comments) article has over a dedicated ‘Share’ button or added comment dedicated post, but with the inclusion of commenting on a ‘Liked’ or ‘Recommend’ article, the post becomes a dedicated post to your timeline (i.e. just as if you were to post the link separately or use a share button).

    I’m a bit worried that Buffer, a company that prouds itself on social media, is outputting garbage like this. Maybe the guy isn’t as experienced or knowledgeable, but still, they should check their facts and test this stuff out, before writing a viral blog post about it. C’mon guys. -.-‘

    • Jazz

      This article confused me as well. I’d always thought articles I liked, while not showing up in *my* newsfeed, does also show up on my friends’ newsfeeds and also their tickets. I get likes and comments of my liking of an article both immediately and hours far away from liking it, which makes me think it does show up on other people’s newsfeeds.

      As a user, I much prefer liking or recommending, as it doesn’t post the article on my Timeline, but instead thrusts it into my network’s feeds. I actively don’t share articles which only allow “Share” as an option.

      • FirefoxGuru

        Yep, I’m the same as you. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the comment and for steering this discussion in the right direction! It’s really helpful to have your expertise on the topic. 🙂

      You make so many good points here. I’ve updated the article to reflect a couple elements that were missing beforehand, like the experience of friends and followers when you “like” a story. Your insight here was really helpful! Sounds like there may be several FB buttons out there with older functionality, so hopefully this post will encourage everyone to test out their buttons to see what they’ve got on their site.

      • FirefoxGuru

        No problem Kevan! Glad you modified your content to cater for this new info. Now if only The Next Web and anyone else who copied and pasted your article could do the same 😛

  • Nora Kamsani

    HI Kevan

    Using Digg Digg too and I am wondering if there’s a way I can track who is sharing or liking my post on Facebook?

  • social media help

    Would I be able to
    simply say, this online journal is the thing that got me as the day progressed


  • Antonio Pastor Serrano

    Hola Kevan: Es una lástima, para los que no poseemos conocimientos informáticos, tampoco idioma inglés y los conceptos no conocerlos, es imposible crear los botones que tan fácilmente aconsejas y que uno no es capaz de implementarlos. De todas formas, facilitas unos muy buenos consejos. Gracias

  • harsha

    it’s really a wonderful article.I love how you documented the traffic and how to changed. Congrats!

  • PTuruz

    Dear friends

    I find a plugin,who can help you hide your content

    and show only likers on facebook or on google plus

  • nick
  • eeandersen

    Why do some pages insist that I SHARE them to complete the viewing experience?

  • Mitch Rand

    Interesting post!

    Another thing that sometimes happens is an annoying secondary “confirm” button that pops up after clicking the like button. When you click the confirm button it opens a new tab or window asking you to confirm a second time.

    I believe that this could scare away some of our lazier readers because they have to click multiple times.

    (Pictured is what happens in Safari, but it also happens on Chrome on desktop).

  • Nice article and really very helpful for me to understand the real benefits of it. I have implemented this in my website It is really very helpful to increase my organic traffic.

  • armercado

    Do the numbers you see on the plugins register in the analytics? For example on my wordpress blog a post shows 75 facebook likes but in the post details in my favebook insights only shows 63 total likes.

  • Terry Sharma

    Hi Kevan l, Although whole article is full of knowledge but the featured image portion is really a piece of knowledge for me. I want to ask you a question about searching which i stumble upon this page. How to post my page links in facebook groups with a like button next to it? Like the image am attaching. Kindly reply.

  • G. Santonocito

    Hi Kevan, great post!
    Do you know of any way to bring the Likes clicked in one’s blog or website back to Facebook? In other words: I write an article on my website; then I share it on FB; the user clicks Like on my website AND the Facebook Like counter of that article is incremented. Is that possible?

    • Hi there, thanks so much for the comment! Hmm, that’s a really great question, can definitely see the value that would add. I’m not aware of anything like that, except maybe a custom solution (with some code and development work) that would wire everything together. I think there’s some data that’d need to be passed from Facebook to your site and back, and I’m not sure I’ve seen anything simple that might do the job there!

  • The Wandering Jade

    How to edit the OG tags on FB in 3 steps: Copy and paste the link on status. (Wait until article appears.) Then double click OG title or OG description to customize. Upload image.

  • Charles B. Klink
  • mohammad

    very nice written…thank you

  • Really great article for any user who use Facebook on daily basis but not aware with such kind of information. Thanks once again.

  • Page Schulman

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