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Facebook Thumbnails and Why I Struggled for Hours

I have been struggling for hours to get a thumbnail image to show on the link that I’m going to share on Facebook. The Facebook thumbnails didn’t show, no matter what I did. So, this is just one of those posts that I really felt a strong urge to write. It was that important to me, and it still is, although I now have the solution to my problems.

I’m not that active on Facebook. I use it, first and foremost in order to keep building strong relations, but also to bring traffic to my blog. And, Facebook is a (free) traffic magnet (not as huge as google, but not far behind).

Facebook Thumbnails and Why We Need Them

Example of Facebook Thumbnails

I have been doing some testing. It might not be shocking news to you, but I’ve discovered that there’s a huge difference if you add links on Facebook with or without thumbnails. I don’t have any stats to show you, but according to my experience, it’s very important that we add Facebook thumbnails on every status update that includes a link.

The reason why I have received a lot more clicks on links with thumbnails, is probably related to attention. It’s so much easier to grab attention with an image than just text.

Facebook Thumbnails and How You Add Them

So, after struggling for hours, I have discovered that there are at least four things you need to understand when it comes to adding Facebook thumbnails.

– You can manually add some code, or
– You can install a plugin
– You need to use the featured image settings
– You should Force Facebook to refresh its cache

Let me explain.

The Code for Facebook Thumbnails

Facebook Thumbnails Code

Facebook Thumbnails can be added by using some code. If you have 100% control, unlike me, you can add some code. Just copy and paste it; Avoid No Facebook Thumbnails (you’ll get the code for WordPress and for non-wordpress sites). I don’t recommend this unless you know what you’re doing. I’m not saying that you’re going to mess up. But, I don’t like adding code (because I really don’t have any idea what I’m doing).

The point is, that when you add this piece of code, you’ll be using the featured image of the posts as the thumbnail in Facebook. But, what I recommend that you do (if you’re anything like me) is to install the plugin.

The Plugin for Facebook Thumbnails

There’s a plugin you can install in order to add the code to your wordpress blog. This plugin will set your Facebook thumbnails for you, and it’s the same as with the code, it will use the featured image.

The plugin is Add Facebook Share Thumbnail + Meta

Featured image

In order to use Facebook thumbnails, you need to set a featured image on your post. You’ll find it in the right sidebar, just below where you add tags to your post.

Facebook Thumbnails are using Featured Image in WordPress

The Facebook thumbnails will be the images you add for each post using featured image.

Force Facebook to refresh its cache

But, I was still struggling.

I didn’t understand why nothing seemed to happen. I had installed the plugin (I even tried to add the code). According to what I’ve read, I did everything right, but nothing happened.

The thing is, in order to get your Facebook thumbnails to work, you need to force Facebook to refresh its cache. If Facebook have already crawled your site/post, it stores it in its cache, and it might take 24 hours to get any new updates to show. So, that’s why you need to force Facebook to refresh its cache by adding the url to the post you want to share.

As soon as I forced Facebook to refresh its cache, everything worked out ok for me.

Your Turn: What’s your experience with Facebook Thumbnails?

34 responses to “Facebook Thumbnails and Why I Struggled for Hours”

  1. Ruth - The Freelance Writing Blog says:

    I’m confused Jens. Admittedly, I am no Facebook ‘expert’, so if I’ve missed the point altogether, my apologies. Are you talking about posts from your blog (or other blogs) that you want to ‘share’ on Facebook or add to your FB ‘page’? When I do that, the thumbnails just automatically appear. I’m not using a plugin and I never set the featured image on my posts. Sounds like a very complicated process, though I’m not surprised that links with pics get more click throughs.

  2. Sally Erickson says:

    Jens: I agree that it’s touch and go with the thumbnails, with or without all the methods you mention. (I would like to know how to clear the FaceBook cache. Your link didn’t work for me.)
    Here’s another thumbnail/post problem I had on my FaceBook page just last week. The link for the post showed the thumbnail, but lost the introductory text. I finally took it down. Not very dependable!

  3. Jennifer Gaie Hellum says:

    I was having this problem when a tweet linking to this post popped up on my TweetDeck!

    I’d been struggling to get a thumbnail to appear when I pasted a link from azcentral. (I’m the social media producer there.) The story had a photo featured in it, but the image wouldn’t appear. I’ve never had this problem before. I kept repasting the link, refreshing … didn’t matter. But then I used a link shortener and used that url. Apparently this acted as a kind of refreshener, because that link generated the thumbnail on FB. Not sure why this worked, but it’s just one more solution to the problem.

  4. Adrienne says:

    Hey Jens,

    Like Carolyn mentioned, I was having this problem for several months. None of my thumbnails would post at all. I reached out to my friend, Ashvini, who just so happens to be a computer whiz and he spent hours with me on Skype going through my server. There was some strange code showing up on my blog that was the culprit to why my thumbnails wouldn’t show.

    It’s much more than just Facebook refreshing their site and clearing the cache. At least it was for my blog. I don’t use the feature option on my blog and I’ve imported my images properly so that wasn’t the issue for me.

    These types of problems are just over my head. Had it not been for Ashvini, I would have never gotten this resolved. All of the credit goes to him.

    It’s a very irritating problem to have so my sympathies are with you my friend.


    • Jens says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      I wish I had some friends like that. I don’t know how many times and how many hours I’ve spent in front of the computer messing around with things I didn’t understand. I think I need to hook up with Ashvini πŸ™‚

      And the thing is that I don’t learn anything from messing around like I do. I usually end up fixing the problems, but I never understand what I did πŸ™‚

  5. olatoun-graceny says:

    I don’t understand a lot of things on fb… I like facebook because I found all my old friends there. What is thumbnail?.

    • Carolyn says:

      Olatoun, A thumbnail is the small image that shows with the link to the article you’re posting. Having an image added greatly increases the likelihood that someone will click on the link and read your post.

    • Jens says:

      Thanks a lot Carolyn for explaining thumbnails (and for replying to other comments as well). I’ve been on the couch the whole weekend with a fever. So, I guess I’m a little late to the party πŸ™‚

      Thanks again.

  6. Eddie Gear says:

    Jens, that has been an annoying feature with facebook. I just not use thumbnails when posting my blog articles there. Thanks for the nice tip though.

    • Jens says:

      Hi Eddie,

      Yes, that’s a really annoying feature with Facebook. The only problem is that Facebook has become too big to be ignored, and there’s a huge difference if you add a thumbnail or not with your links. It took me several hours, but I finally figured out what the problem was πŸ™‚

  7. Bill Dorman says:

    I don’t even understand how you got ‘I don’t understand this’ over a FB image on your post so I don’t think I can weigh in on the thumbnail images in FB. FB is another social platform I just ‘show up’ in. I really mastered this social stuff, huh?

    Thanks for sharing, hope you get it figured out sir.

    • Jens says:

      Hi Bill,

      I wish I was that lucky and just showed up on FB as well, because that’s what matters πŸ™‚

      I usually spend hours doing things that most other people don’t need to do. For instance, I have no idea what’s been happening with my server the past months. And I have stopped counting the hours I’ve spent trying to understand. I guess understanding technical issues is not part of my DNA πŸ™‚

  8. olatoun-graceny says:

    @Carolyn its so funny that i didnt know what it was i use it often… sometimes it responses other times i give up after a few trial.

    • Jens says:

      It took some time before I started using the name thumbnail as well. But, the important thing is to understand how important it is to use the image… because it makes a huge difference to your traffic (a lot more people click on links when they have images attached to them).

  9. olatoun-graceny says:

    @Carolyn Thanks its so funny that i didnt know what it was i use it often… sometimes it responses other times i give up after a few trial.

  10. olatoun-graceny says:

    @Jens get some drugs and rest too…i have a lot of questions for you i.what i m i suppose to do for my picture to show on ur blog for example…..Then its so true that the thumbnail makes a difference, where do u get all yours from i like them especialy the one in your post about online friends…

  11. FelipeG says:

    Great of you for solving this problem a lot are having trouble with! So, Whats next on you list of thing to solve? Happy Halloween guys!

  12. Nik says:

    Hi Jens,

    Great tutorial, when it comes to these problems I search a bit and if I do not find a solution I just let it go. I once tried to add my FB page to the xml sitemap, don’t do that it gives a ton of errors so that was not the solution, he he guess I now know how to get it sorted.


  13. nickza says:

    I really hate doing anything using code because I don’t really understand about code. But you show me easy way to put thumbnails without any codes.

  14. Diana Stroe says:

    I remember I had this problem too with one of my websites, it was a funny-stuff website and I really needed to share things on Facebook constantly and the thumbnails weren’t working and I was stressed-out because I had a lot of work to do besides this. I remember fixing it up with the same code, heh. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Jomson George says:

    Its a nice post but i am confused with those codes and so i go for plugins. Let me try that. Thanks for sharing:)

  16. Trish Radge says:

    Thanks for this post. I could not locate the “Featured Image” link on my post page and found that it was not available on all WordPress templates. I therefore downloaded a Plugin called Automatic Featured Image Posts and …HOORAY! Thumbnails appear on my FaceBook posts.

  17. Peter Keszthelyi says:

    A million thanks for this!

  18. ilder he recommend AJAX Thumbnail Rebuild Jens

    I want to say a big thank you and give you a hug this has been a problem since Facebook and my wordpress bog started
    I run a fansite and with pictures and videos thumbnails is a must on Facebook .. I did not know FB had clear Cache option the delveloper of the Thumbnail plugin you recommend also to use a thumbnail re builder for wordpress :
    (‘ AJAX Thumbnail Rebuild ‘ ) neat tool easy to run I followed your directions and also ran the rebuilder tool and all my past thumbnails that did not show for months before popped up .. thank you once again

  19. sorry about my first post it got jumbled and it shifted around when I pushed post comment and got error message and it direct me back here .. Bev

  20. Fred says:

    I love you man , I was going crazy over why my new products werent showing up with thumbnails, since facebook is my main tool to drive traffic, I been trying for hours! The thing that worked for me was making facebook force cache.

  21. Nicola says:

    Hi Jens
    Not sure if you can help but do you know if there is a limit to how many thumbnails you can view? When I go to my status and add a link to a certain page, I know the page has 30 images but it only shows the first 25. This is happening on a few pages but sometimes only showing the first 20.
    I’ve been onto Facebook help but not getting much luck.
    Just wondered if anyone else is having this problem

  22. Gustavo says:

    Thank you very much for the info, refreshing the cache was the key for me…

  23. Alex Thomas says:

    Much appreciated!!! Cache was the problem for me. Cheers.

  24. I tried to refresh the cache but no work for me.

  25. Matt Stabile says:

    I had an issue with an old post that I had updated for and I simply used the Google URL shortener and that did the trick (oddly enough this didn’t work for’ s shorterner). Hope that helps.

  26. Chris says:

    WOW that explained everything
    until the end
    and then it explained NOTHING

    “The thing is, in order to get your Facebook thumbnails to work, you need to force Facebook to refresh its cache. If Facebook have already crawled your site/post, it stores it in its cache, and it might take 24 hours to get any new updates to show. So, that’s why you need to force Facebook to refresh its cache by adding the url to the post you want to share.”

    THE URL … ill just go and get the magic THE URL then

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