Work with links

  

You can shorten links (URLs) in social posts to save character space, and to keep your posts clear and concise. Hootsuite uses the ow.ly link shortener by default, which allows you to add add link-tracking parameters to analyze link or content performance.

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

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.

Shorten your links

You can add custom parameters to your links when composing a new post or when editing scheduled or draft content in the Composer (see Apply link settings).

Shorten a link when creating a post

  1. Go to Create new post .
  2. Type or paste a link into the Text box and display the link toolbar.
  3. 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 networks, Hootsuite generates a new ow.ly link for each post.
  4. Team, Business, and Enterprise plan members - To 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.

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 Create and publish posts to learn more about publishing posts.

Overview of link previews

When social posts include a link to a website, they often display a link preview. The preview provides a summary of the content found in the link destination, with a title, description, and thumbnail image. Shortened YouTube or Vimeo links display a playable link preview on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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 be the same on each social network.

While composing a post, you may see this error message: “We couldn’t populate a link preview

Composer link preview error
This error appears when Hootsuite is unable to read the metadata on the URL you provided, and 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 following sections for ways to optimize your link for 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. The published tweet will contain a clickable link and a separate, uploaded image.

Note: Twitter Card link previews publish to Twitter natively, 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.

  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, the link preview will be incomplete. Note that when publishing links to these sites using Facebook, Facebook tries to fill in the blanks with the data available, so link preview results may differ.

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.

Visit the Facebook article A guide to sharing on Facebook to check to see if your website is set up to generate optimal link previews.

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.

Note: Facebook does not extract data from Facebook-centric links, such as Events, when publishing through third-party platforms like Hootsuite.

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.

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. 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. Content library images cannot be used for link previews.
  3. Select the title or description to edit the text.
  4. Select Save.

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

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.

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