Read on if you’re ready to get serious about being better at Facebook.

It’s time to dive into what we like to call an eCatholic “power feature.”

eCatholic power feature: (n) a feature within the eCatholic CMS that, while easy to ignore, could change your life.

(Sure, the definition might be a bit over-the-top…but still, beware: Power features might lead to a #mindblown moment.) Let’s dive in.

Step 1.1: Understanding how Facebook works

Let’s say Tom finds something on your website so compelling that he wants to share it on Facebook. Tom copies the page’s URL and pastes it into Facebook.

Time out. First, it’s important to understand how Facebook works.

Once a URL is pasted into Facebook, Facebook scrapes the linked site for information. Specifically, Facebook is looking for three things:

  • An image (to make Tom’s shared URL more engaging)
  • A title (to make Tom’s shared URL more engaging)
  • A description (to make Tom’s shared URL more engaging)

Obviously, Facebook is trying to help Tom make his shared URLs more engaging. People want to see a picture and read a snippet about Tom’s URL before they take the plunge and actually click on his shared URL.

Here’s what we’re talking about:

customizing Facebook posts

Time in.

Want your shared URLs to look more like the example on the right? With eCatholic, it’s easy to control how URLs from your website will look on Facebook. Here’s what you need to do.

Step 1.2: Understanding site-wide social settings

To make the magic happen, you first need to adjust your site’s social settings.

  • Click on Administration in the blue admin toolbar, then Settings, then Social.
  • Within the Social tab you’ll find “Customize posts shared to Facebook.” Make sure it is set to “ON.”
  • Then click Save/Publish.

Once this feature is on, you can adjust the image, title, and description pulled by Facebook for individual pages of your website.

In addition to making page-by-page Facebook customizations, you can add a “Default Facebook Share Image.” Uploading a default image ensures that all of your website’s URLs shared on Facebook include an image, regardless of whether that specific page has been customized with Facebook sharing settings.

With this in mind, upload a default image that is not specific to any particular aspect of your parish. Your default image should be able to generally represent your parish’s brand in a variety of situations. (Perhaps a shot of your church’s exterior or the inside of your sanctuary would be an appropriate default image.)

Pro tip: All Facebook Share Images will be cropped to 1200 x 628 pixels.

Step 2: Understanding page-specific social settings

Once you’ve adjusted your site-wide social settings to allow Facebook customizations, identify pages of your website that could benefit from specific Facebook settings.

Once you’ve picked a page you’d like to customize, navigate to the page and access the Page Settings. Then, locate the Facebook tab, which is where you can:

  • Upload a “Share Image” (Needs to be at least 1200 x 628 pixels in size)
  • Enter a “Facebook Name” (Keep it under 60 characters to ensure it won’t be cut off in the Facebook newsfeed)
  • Enter a “Facebook Description” (No more than 160 characters)

Once complete, save and publish your changes!

Side note: It’s not necessarily important to customize the Facebook sharing settings for every page of your website. Instead, customize pages that: use the following guidelines to narrow it down:

  • Receive large amounts of traffic
  • You identify as particularly share-worthy
  • Are part of a paid Facebook campaign (e.g., promoted posts)
  • You are sharing organically on Facebook (e.g., unpaid posts)

Step 3: Understanding Facebook debugging and scraping

If you tried testing your newly customized page’s URL in Facebook and aren’t getting the expected results, have no fear.

It may be necessary to debug your page and have Facebook scrape the URL again.

…Say what?

Long story short, Facebook’s Sharing Debugger is a tool that allows you to preview exactly how your shared URL will look on Facebook. Here’s to making sure there aren’t any surprises!

Facebook Sharing Debugger

Go to the sharing debugger, paste your URL, and click debug. If you’re not seeing the newly customized data you just published on your eCatholic website, click “Scrape Again.” The appropriate information should now be pulled; feel free to share!

Congratulations! Since you’re using an eCatholic power feature, that must make you an eCatholic power user. ??

Have a question or a story to share? Let us know about it in the comments below!