Refresh Facebook Thumbnail Link Image

facebook post

The scenario: You spent some quality time with your keyboard and your blog to write up a nice article. Then spent even more time searching for that perfect image to match your content. And after a few hours, your masterpiece is complete, and you publish it. Perfection!

All is good… until you post it to Facebook.

And Facebook seems to find every image on your site – except the one that’s in your article.

So you post it, and remove it, and try it again a few times, hoping, praying ( and cursing at times ) that it will just find the image.

Or perhaps you set the link into Facebook, and have it all ready, and at the last moment realize you have a different image you want in your article. So you update the article, and post the link, but it can’t find the new image.

So you make another vane attempt at posting the link to Facebook a few more times.

But it’s useless. Facebook has grabbed the wrong image for eternity. And there’s nothing worse than having a misplaced image of a woman in yoga pants from an advertisement on your site show up for your latest article.

In technical terms, Facebook has grabbed the images from your site, and saves that information – called caching – so that it doesn’t have to look up the information again. It helps Facebook run smoother, and use it’s resources efficiently.

But all is not lost. There’s a way to force Facebook to check the URL of your blog post again.

For starters, make sure that your blogging platform is setting the Facebook Open Graph meta tag information. It’s technical to describe, and the details aren’t important, but most blogging platforms have a plugin or extension that sets this for you. It essentially grabs the images from your post, and puts it in a place that Facebook knows to look, and uses that as the image thumbnail when you post your link to Facebook.

I use WordPress, and use the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin that has a checkbox to add the Facebook Open Graph information.  But there are about a dozen other plugins that do the same thing in WordPress.  I’m less familiar with other blogging platforms, but they have similar mechanisms.

So once you have the Facebook Open Graph information in your site, Facebook “should” find your image easily. But nothing is perfect, so even with the information in the right place, it may not get the link right.

The solution?  Developer’s debug tools to the rescue.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a fancy developer to use this one.

Just visit the Facebook Debug Tools page, and enter your URL.  You will see what images are being used, and most importantly, it refreshes the cache. In layman’s terms, Facebook will go back and actually re-scan your site for changes.

After you’ve entered your URL, and verified that it’s finding your image, then go re-paste your URL into Facebook, and your new image should show up as the thumbnail that accompanies your article.

Easy, right?

Let me know if it works for you in the comments below.


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4 Responses to “Refresh Facebook Thumbnail Link Image”

  1. Craven Lovelace October 22, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    I like how Facebook allows a business “page” to upload an image for a link. I use this all the time on my Craven page, and navigate it to the same image I use as my “podcast image” on my podcast blog. I wish Facebook would offer the same functionality for ALL linking, even on personal pages.

    • Matt Kettlewell October 22, 2013 at 10:00 am #

      I agree Craven… it’s a handy feature to get that perfect image set to match your blog, and I use it often as well.

      And that’s also why it’s so important to set an image using one of the Facebook Open Graph plugins, so that when the general public posts your link, they are portraying your blog the way you want the public to see it.

      Because truth be told, even if the upload feature was available on personal profiles, most people won’t take the time to upload the image you want for you posts… so you have to go with the flow and make it easy for them.

      I didn’t mention any stand alone WordPress Open Graph plugins, but I’ve used this one in the past, and it allows you to set a default image for when there’s not an image found in the blog.

      WP Facebook Open Graph protocol

  2. Alana October 26, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    The debugger tool used to work for me to refresh Facebook’s cache, but not anymore. Even if I try deleting my cookies, using a different browser, etc. nothing updates it.

  3. Olli Savolainen February 28, 2014 at 7:25 am #

    Thanks! Worked, in a moment of near-desperation :)

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