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  Article updated: May 20, 2021

Work with links

In Hootsuite, you can shorten links (URLs) in social posts to save character space, and to keep your posts clear and concise.

When composing posts that include a link to a website, the link often displays a link preview. This preview provides a summary of the content found in the link destination, with a title, description, and thumbnail image.

Shorten your links

Hootsuite uses the ow.ly link shortener by default, which allows you to add link-tracking parameters to later analyze link or content performance. To add custom parameters to your links, see Apply link settings.

The ow.ly shortener does not affect your site’s search engine optimization (SEO). Because each shortener responds like a 301 redirect, visibility and web page ranking pass through to your site.

If you are a Team, Business, or Enterprise plan member, you can set up a vanity URL to use as a link shortener instead of ow.ly (see Add, share, or delete a vanity URL).

Shorten a link when creating a post

  1. Select Create new post .
  2. Type or paste a link into the Text box to display the link toolbar.
  3. Depending on your link type, do one of the following:
    • Shorten with ow.ly - Select Shorten with Ow.ly. If you have selected a social account, the shortened link displays in your post preview on the right. If you are publishing the post to multiple social accounts, Hootsuite generates an ow.ly link for each post.
    • Use a vanity URL or another external shortener (Team, Business, and Enterprise plan members) - If you use a vanity URL or other external shortener in your Hootsuite organization, select Add tracking, select Customize to choose from a list of available shorteners, and then select Apply.
  4. See Create and publish posts to learn more about publishing posts.

Important: Hootsuite saves the full link, not the shortened link when you save content library templates. You must apply shorteners or link presets when you publish a post using a template (see Use a content library template).

Work with link previews

Link previews are generated automatically, but each social network pulls this information differently from the link’s website. This means that the resulting link preview for a given link may not look the same on each social network.

  Twitter

Twitter only displays link previews in tweets when the link’s website has Twitter Cards enabled. To verify the site you’re linking to has a Twitter Card, enter the link into Twitter’s Card validator.

To guarantee that your tweet contains an image, you can attach your own, or select any suggested images retrieved from the link. Attaching an image overrides the preview if the link has a Twitter Card. In this case, the published tweet will contain a clickable link and a separate, uploaded image.

Shortened YouTube or Vimeo links display a playable link preview on Twitter.

Note: Twitter Card link previews publish to Twitter, but don’t appear in Hootsuite streams. Learn more about Twitter Cards, and how to add them to your website.

  LinkedIn

LinkedIn posts generate link previews based on the data that LinkedIn extracts from each website. You can customize these previews when you publish the post.

Enter a link into LinkedIn's Post Inspector to see how LinkedIn will read and process it. The tool helps you identify any missing data on the page and what you need to add to improve the preview. Shortened YouTube or Vimeo links display a playable link preview on LinkedIn.

  Facebook

Facebook posts generate link previews based on the open graph meta tags (for example, og:image) that Facebook’s link scraper extracts from each website. If these tags are missing or incomplete, Facebook tries to fill in the blanks with the data available, so link preview results may differ or be incomplete.

If the URL was only recently published, Facebook may not have extracted the data for the link you’re trying to share. Wait and try your post again.

  • Preview and troubleshoot a link - Enter a link into Facebook's Debugger to preview how it will look when published to Facebook. The tool flags missing meta tags and anything else you need to fix.
  • Optimize previews for your website - Visit the Facebook article A guide to sharing on Facebook to see if your website is set up to generate optimal link previews.

Note: When publishing through third-party platforms like Hootsuite, Facebook does not extract link preview data from Facebook.com links, such as a link to a Page post.

Customize a link preview

Link preview customization is only available for LinkedIn Page posts, and for Facebook Page posts that meet the following requirements:

Facebook implements these requirements to reduce misrepresentation of link content.

LinkedIn requires link previews to have a thumbnail image, title, and description. Facebook requires, at minimum, a thumbnail image. If your link preview does not have these elements when you publish a post, the social network fills in the missing data.

Customize a LinkedIn or Facebook Page link preview

When you type a link in your post, Hootsuite automatically generates a link preview. You can further customize the link preview using the following steps:

  1. After typing a link in your post, select Customize link preview.
  2. If the link displays more than one image, select an option, or select Replace image to upload your own image. Images can be a maximum of 5MB in .jpg, .jpeg, .gif or .png formats (see Image file requirements). Images from a content library cannot be used for link previews.
  3. Select the title or description to edit the text.
  4. Select Save.

To replace a link preview entirely and upload an image instead, select the X in the top right of the link preview card, and then upload your own media file or select an image from the media library.

Troubleshoot link previews

If you get either of the following errors when trying to preview a link, try the following troubleshooting steps:

  • We couldn't populate a link preview - This error appears when Hootsuite is unable to read the metadata on the URL you provided so it can’t generate a link preview. Verify that the URL you are sharing is a published link. Hootsuite can't generate a link preview until the website or article is live and accessible to the public.

    If you've confirmed that the link is live, see the previous sections in this article for ways to optimize your link for each social network.
  • Link preview customization is not permitted - If you try to customize a link in Facebook and get "Link preview customization is not permitted for this URL," revisit the Facebook Page post requirements listed in Customize a link preview.

If you have additional issues with your previews, try composing your post using private mode in your browser. This allows you to skip any browser cookies, cache, or active add-ons that might hinder the correct display of the post creation. (See Troubleshoot display issues.)