Why Does Shared Content (Sometimes) Look Different From the Original?

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If you just need to know how to minimize issues with shared content, consider jumping straight to our article about how to optimize for advocacy.

Issue(s)

Shared content sometimes has a different appearance than the original post in the SocialChorus platform. This can mean a different image appears or the text is not the same.

Example - image and description in SocialChorus program do not match Twitter:

Screen_Shot_2020-05-19_at_5.13.26_PM.png   Screen_Shot_2020-12-11_at_1.53.18_PM__1_.png

Sometimes the same shared post has a different appearance in each social network.

Example - the same video shared across three networks shows different source URLs (bit.ly vs advocate.socialchorus.com) and different preview images and text:

Screen_Shot_2020-12-11_at_2.43.02_PM__1_.png  Screen_Shot_2020-12-11_at_2.43.21_PM__1_.png  Screen_Shot_2020-12-11_at_2.42.00_PM__1_.png

You may also find that a single post shared to just one social network appears differently when you look at the shared post in the network's mobile app versus the network's website.

Example - this post appears differently in Twitter's mobile app and on the twitter.com website:

Screen_Shot_2020-12-11_at_2.43.02_PM__1_.png  Screen_Shot_2020-12-11_at_2.22.57_PM__1_.png 

The prepopulated share message and appended hashtag may only appear when sharing to Twitter. 

Example - same post shared to Twitter and Facebook, only Twitter shows the prepopulated share message "Testing Share Message Article Post".

Screen_Shot_2020-05-20_at_4.24.20_PM__1_.png   Screen_Shot_2020-05-20_at_4.59.35_PM.png

Root Cause

The target social networks are processing the same metadata differently, and sometimes presenting the same post differently. After a user clicks on Share in SocialChorus and chooses a network, we are not involved in authentication or how the shared content is processed. We direct the user to the target network and pass metadata about the post along - the target social network then processes everything based on their unique, proprietary algorithms.

The advantage of having the target network handle authentication and metadata processing is that the share experience is generally more seamless - the user does not need to authenticate through SocialChorus. If we used APIs to control the sharing experience more carefully, we would have to authenticate the users. When we did this in the past, we saw a 60% drop off at the time of sharing. We felt it was more important to make sharing easy for users than to control exactly how their shared content appeared.

Even when we tried to control how shared content appears, the social networks processed the same information differently. For example, with the Link content type in particular, most social networks looked at the original link, not the SocialChorus post itself. This means that the social networks would ignore any image that was uploaded in Studio. However, this was not consistent across all networks, and changed over time (the networks can change this behavior without notice).

In addition, the social networks have made their own design choices around how to display content depending on the user's device (mobile app vs web) or platform (such as Android vs iOS).

Finally, regarding prepopulated messages in particular, Facebook policy prohibits the use of prepopulated share messages and LinkedIn appears to be implementing a similar policy (the exact behavior with LinkedIn depends on the user's device and LinkedIn mobile app version). We have further details on these policies in this article. Please note that even when the prepopulated text appears, the sharer can edit the prepopulated text.

Resolution

Focus on Click-Through

So what can you, the content owner, control? Choose the SocialChorus content type based on your desired click-through behavior.

Here is a quick highlight on the content types - for more detail please refer to the article on optimizing for advocacy.

  • See the original content from your program - use an Article or Video post.
  • Go directly to an external site - use a Link post.
  • Only see an image, nothing else - use an Image post.

Details here.

Minimize Sources of Truth

If you need to minimize the variance in shared post appearance, you may want to consider the following strategies. Please keep in mind that even with these recommendations, social networks may still do surprising things with the shared content. We are not able to control exactly how the social networks process or present a piece of content, we can only control what content we pass to them.

Here is a quick highlight on how to minimize variety in how shared posts look - for more detail please refer to the article on optimizing for advocacy.

  • Do NOT use Link or Image content types.
  • DO use Article or Video content types.
  • If you really want to do Link posts AND you have access to the source website metadata... then make sure your Open Graph tags are configured.

Details here.

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