Another Way to Trick Facebook into Working for You
Facebook is filled with quirks — any online presence is, massive like Facebook or comparatively small, like, well, anyone else. There will be hiccups that frustrate to no end that are a function of internet hardware realities or of competing/conflicting business goals.
One such issue we encountered yesterday has to do with one of the most basic functions: sharing a link with your fans. Facebook helpfully expands it for you, with a picture and an excerpt or a summary from the page you want to share. But for better performance (the official word), or for cheaper operations on their end (the more probable reason), Facebook caches any page you’ve already shared. With blog posts and other newly posted URLs, this will usually be no problem, but with regularly changed static-IP pages, such as an author’s Contest (example, example, example, example), Facebook’s excerpt might come from a cached page, or in other, more frustratingly real-life terms: an older and totally inapplicable version of the page.
Such was the hair-tearing situation Laura Lee Guhrke found herself in yesterday. The obvious answer is to rename the url of the page in question. But even with SSIs, this is not a 5m fix, and Laura has a rapid-fire contest promotional plan starting that will last into next summer (take note, readers who like to win stuff. Like Laura’s FB page and stay informed). Facebook’s cache issue was going to potentially derail her promo plans.
With both Estella (Laura’s lead designer) and Emily (our creative director) trying to figure out how to make Laura’s site work around Facebook’s caching hindrance without costing Laura a limb, a light bulb went off in my head. “I will fix it,” I said.
And I did. The solution is simple, and while we are happy to do it for our clients (just ask me!), it’s something anyone can do on their own and bypass Facebook’s cache hurdle. Use a URL shortener! Just copy and paste your URL into a shortening service like bit.ly and share the newly generated link on Facebook. You’ve never shared that link before, so Facebook pulls from the live, newly updated page.
I know, right? Facebook will be Facebook. And it’s an incredibly helpful business tool. But Facebook makes us grit our teeth every month with needs for workarounds. Luckily, this one is easy and cheap.