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?

  • Ruth – The Freelance Writing Blog

    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.

  • Sally Erickson

    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!

  • Jennifer Gaie Hellum

    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.

  • http://adriennesmith.net Adrienne

    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.

    ~Adrienne

  • olatoun-graceny

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

  • Eddie Gear

    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.

  • http://billdorman.me Bill Dorman

    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.

  • Carolyn

    Jennifer, that’s a great idea. I will try your suggestion too the next time this happens.

  • Carolyn

    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.

  • olatoun-graceny

    @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.

  • olatoun-graceny

    @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.

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens

    Hi Jennifer,

    I have experienced that problem as well, but I never thought about using a link shortner. That’s great advice.

    Thanks a lot.

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens

    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 :)

    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 :)

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens

    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 :)

    Thanks again.

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens

    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 :)

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens

    Hi Bill,

    I wish I was that lucky and just showed up on FB as well, because that’s what matters :)

    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 :)

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens

    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).

  • olatoun-graceny

    @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…

  • FelipeG

    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!

  • Frank

    Whew! Thank God there’s an easy way to put thumbnails without the codes.

    Frank @ solar power for the home

  • Nik

    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.

    Nik

  • nickza

    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.
    Thanks

  • Diana Stroe

    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!

  • Jomson George

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

  • http://www.lit-republic.co.il/ Edna

    Thanks for the great post. When I ran into this problem I was quite suprised to see how many users suffer from the same thing, struggling with codes they don’t know anything about (including me).
    Another things someone wrote and that worked was to copy the URL of the post to facebook without the http://www. and the / at the end. It actually helped.
    My problem now is that FB shows the thumbnail, but not the first lines of the post like it used to do. Any thoughts?

  • http://www.thechartist.com.au Trish Radge

    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.

  • Peter Keszthelyi

    A million thanks for this!

  • http://jovi-girls.com/ Bonjovicrzy/Bev

    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

  • http://jovi-girls.com/ Bonjovicrzy/Bev

    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

  • http://www.psnstoremx.com Fred

    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.

  • http://www.aztecvillas.co.uk Nicola

    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
    Thanks

  • Gustavo

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

  • http://timeforafilm.com Alex Thomas

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

  • http://www.entertain4life.com entertain4life

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

  • http://TheExpeditioner.com Matt Stabile

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

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