Facebook Adds Authorship. Bloggers Take Note!

Facebook Adds Authorship. Bloggers Take Note!

This will be a huge boon to growing your blogging audience!

Facebook has released a new "authorship" feature that's powered by the Author meta tag. If this sounds remarkably similar to Google's Authorship which was shuttered last year, that's because it is.

This 60-second video summarizes for you what Facebook Authorship is, and why you'll want to keep reading.

With a simple meta tag, writers and publishers can now indicate the author profile or publishing page for any given piece of content. The result is a linked name attached to any shares of that content on Facebook that allows viewers to see the author and potentially follow them.

As you can see, below the "link preview" section of the post, I now have a byline of "BY MIKE ALLTON" and my name is a hoverable and clickable link.

The "BY MIKE ALLTON" byline is automatically added to posts that link to content I've authored.

And if it's someone that you're not already connected with, you'll see a second line that prompts you to see more from that author by Following them.

Follow new bloggers and writers easily.

As a blogger, this is an incredibly powerful way for me to spread my "personal brand" right alongside the content that I'm creating.

Now, anytime my content is shared to Facebook, whether it's by me or by one of my readers, that share will include my name right on the share, even if that person didn't think to mention me.

While this is designed to call attention to authors of content, you can choose to link to a branded Facebook Page instead of a profile if you wish. More on that in a moment.

What Does Follow Mean?

One point that cannot be overlooked is this idea of "following." If you haven't messed around too much within your Facebook settings, you might not even realize that this is an option.

Because Facebook has a strict limit of 5,000 friends, the ability to "follow" someone without them approving a friendship relationship has been around for years. If you're uncomfortable with the idea of someone being able to see your posts without you approving that in advance, well, creating a personal brand on Facebook probably isn't for you.

You see, many of us enjoy the idea of being able to grow an audience of interested readers and fans on Facebook without having to use a Facebook Page (limiting), and without having to friend each and every interested fan (impractical).

And by accepting followers instead of additional friends, you retain the option of being able to share personal posts with "Friends Only" - keeping the private updates away from your Public followers.

In other words, any time you decide to share something to Facebook, you can choose whether it's content that only your Friends should see, or something that you're interested in followers and the general Public being privy too.

If that makes sense, and you're willing to let people follow you, you need to make sure that you've enabled that option.

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Click on the Followers tab
  3. Set Who Can Follow Me to Everybody

Update your Follower Settings

Note that you can also adjust who can comment on your posts, who you'll get notifications for, and even grab a snippet of code to include a Follow button on your website, like this:

How To Enable Facebook Authorship

Now that you understand what it means to follow someone on Facebook, and have enabled that option for your own profile, it's time to let Facebook know what articles you've written by setting up an Author Tag.

Fortunately, setting up Facebook author tags is far easier than it was to set up Google Authorship. In fact, it's likely that you already have the capability as it uses a meta tag thats already been available for a while:

 article:author

This field needs to be populated with the full URL for your Facebook profile. Mine looks like this:

 <meta property="article:author" content="https://www.facebook.com/allton" />

Ideally, this is something that you would set up as your site default so that it would automatically populate your existing content, as well as your future posts.

If you're using a CMS like WordPress or Drupal to run your blog, you just need to make sure that your Meta Tag functionality includes this field, and then fill it in. Or, if you're editing an HTML document, you can paste it in just as I have it above, simply replacing my profile URL with yours. Each platform is a bit different though, so we'll review your options for each of the major blogging systems.



Drupal | WordPress | Blogger | Tumblr | Weebly | WiX | SBI! | Joomla | Shopify | SquareSpace



DRUPAL



My Drupal site, for instance, uses the Metatag module and there's already a default setting for Article:Author. I just pasted in my profile URL and all of my content immediately reflected that authorship.

  1. Install the appropriate version of the Metatag module for your Drupal installation.
  2. In your admin toolbar, go to Configuration -> Search and metadata -> Metatag
  3. Look for the default settings for Content and click on Edit
  4. Open the Open Graph section and scroll to the Article author field
  5. Paste in your Facebook Profile URL
  6. Click on Save

Depending on your Performance settings, you may need to click on Flush all caches to clear your site cache and activate the tag for all of your existing content.

This enables and sets the Facebook author tag for all of your existing content. For any specific or future post, you can edit that field to reflect a different author.

Within the post, scroll down to the Meta Tags tab, open the Open Graph section, and replace your Facebook Profile URL with the alternative one you wish to use.

If your Drupal site uses multiple contributing authors, you may want to look into creating a custom profile field for each author to fill in, and then use a token to pull that value into the Facebook Author field automatically. This will ensure that Facebook Authorship will be set up and working for all of your guest bloggers.



WORDPRESS



On the other hand, if you're using WordPress, you're likely using Wordpress SEO which already includes the capability to insert a field for your Facebook Profile URL onto your WordPress user profile, and then use that URL as the article:author tag on authored content.

Here's how to configure it:

  1. Click on SEO in the left sidebar
  2. Click on the Facebook tab
  3. Check the Add Open Graph meta data checkbox

Configuring WordPress SEO for Facebook Author Tags

Next, click on Users in the left sidebar, find your user profile, and then paste your Facebook profile URL in the appropriate field.

If you're unsure exactly how to add this meta tag or an appropriate module or plugin to your site, be sure to consult your webmaster.

Once you've added a site-wide tag, or implemented the functionality for specific blog posts, you may need to clear your site cache.



BLOGGER



Blogger has very few built-in SEO fields. Instead, you're tasked to edit your Theme HTML settings and insert the Meta Tag there.

Fortunately, it's easy.

  1. Go to your Blog Settings and look for Template in the left menu.
  2. For your Live On Blog theme, click on the Edit HTML button below the preview.
  3. Near the top of the HTML code you will see a <title> tag that displays the title of your blog. Insert a line after the </title> at the end of that line.
  4. Paste in the full Meta Tag from the article above, replacing my Facebook Profile URL with your own.
  5. Click on Save Template.


TUMBLR



Tumblr has very few built-in SEO fields. Instead, you're tasked to edit your Theme HTML settings and insert the Meta Tag there.

Fortunately, it's easy.

  1. Log in to your Tumblr dashboard using your email and password.
  2. Click your blog in the top right corner of the page to navigate to it.
  3. Click the "Customize Theme" button at the right to start editing the theme.
  4. Click the "Edit HTML" button at the left to view your blog's HTML code. Paste in the full Meta Tag from the article above, replacing my Facebook Profile URL with your own.
  5. Click the "Update Preview" button at the top, then click "Save" to save the changes.


WEEBLY



Place a customized version of the Meta tag mentioned in the article above into your Custom Header field within your site settings.

  1. Edit your site
  2. Click on Settings
  3. Click on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  4. Add your customized Facebook author tag to the Header Code field
  5. Click on Save


WIX



Unfortunately, WIX does not have a dedicated field for the Author tag, so you will need to add it manually. To do so, you will be editing a field for Header Code and pasting in the entire Meta Tag as it's listed in the article above, only with your Facebook Profile URL instead of mine.

For detailed instructions on how to get to that field, you can reference WIX's documentation here: https://www.wix.com/support/ht...



SBI!



SiteSell's SBI! users can also use Facebook Authorship and simply need to edit their page headers, either per page or site wide, and add custom meta tags there.

Again, you'll want to make sure that you've inserted a customized version of the meta tag URL.



JOOMLA



Like WordPress and Drupal, Joomla is a CMS which uses third-party modules to extend the basic capability. They're called Extensions. Unfortunately, the Joomla environment encouraged fully-paid extensions, as opposed to free or freemium, which impacted the popularity and development of the platform. As a result, there aren't a lot of great options readily available for improving your Joomla site's SEO.

I did find one extension called Share It which might do the trick. The documentation clearly states that it supports the article:author meta tag, so once you've installed and configured the extension, you should be all set. Share It costs just $15, which isn't too bad for a Joomla extension. But if I receive confirmation one way or the other with regard to the usefulness of the extension, I'll post an update.



SHOPIFY



To add Facebook Authorship to your Shopify website, you'll need to edit your theme's layout and add the meta author tag:

  1. Go to the Edit HTML/CSS page.
  2. Under the Layouts folder, locate and click on theme.liquid to open it in the online code editor.
  3. In between the opening and closing tags in your theme.liquid file, include your meta author tag like so:

     <meta property="article:author" content="https://www.facebook.com/allton" />

  4. Save your changes.


SquareSpace



SquareSpace users can also use Facebook Authorship and simply need to edit their page headers, either per page or site wide, and add custom meta tags there. Specifically, add them to the Header code injection area for site wide tags or in individual pages under the Advanced tab of the page settings using the Page Header injection points.

Again, you'll want to make sure that you've inserted a customized version of the meta tag URL.



Testing Facebook Authorship Setup

To verify that your site and content is using the correct article:author tag, open one of your posts or pages and use your browser's View Source option to see the HTML code that is generated. You should be able to see your new meta tag within the top hundred or so lines of code. While you're there, also confirm that the tag only appears once, as it's possible to have multiple modules or plugins installed that create the tag, but Facebook seems to balk if there's more than one present.

More importantly, you may need to run specific articles through the Facebook Debugger in order to clear Facebook's cache for the content. Simply go to the Debug Tool and enter your article's URL and click on Debug. Scroll down and you'll see a preview of what your content will look like when shared to Facebook. If it doesn't yet look right (wrong image, or no byline, for instance), click on the Fetch New Scrape Information button, repeatedly if needed, until the preview looks correct.

If you've gone through all of the above steps and your linked byline still isn't appearing on Facebook shares, make sure you try that Debug tool. If it still doesn't work, leave a comment with a link to your blog below and I'll see what I can do to help! It may also need a day or two to "go live" for you, whether that's due to a gradual rollout from Facebook, website caching, or service-side caching, we haven't been able to determine.

Take a moment to review this infographic and make sure that you've followed each of the above steps.

How To Set Up Facebook Authorship

What Does Facebook Authorship Mean For Bloggers

We already mentioned one of the major benefits to bloggers here, but it's worth going over again, and that's personal branding. Most bloggers are scratching and clawing to make a name for themselves, and so it's critical that your content have your name associated with it.

And along those same lines, bloggers are striving to grow their audience, and any tool or mechanism which encourages audience growth and makes it easier, particularly on a platform like Facebook, is a good thing.

But the real benefit that I see stems from the Facebook announcement itself. If you read it, you'll note right away that Facebook never mentions bloggers. They don't even mention businesses. No, they talk about Author Tags as being for Publishers and Journalists.

And that's an important distinction.

You see, Facebook is not interested in adding features like this to help businesses. That's what the Facebook Ad Manager is for. Instead, Facebook is striving to become a better destination for Facebook users. They want us to spend even more time on the site (as if that was possible), consuming content. Great content.

And that means stories.

Facebook wants to continue to solidify it's position as one of the most shared and linked to and engaging platforms for news and information.

So when a journalist shares an article they've written in a Facebook post, that share now includes their byline, just as the original publisher does on the website.

And of course readers are encouraged to follow that journalist to see more of their articles in the future.

So by taking advantage of this functionality, bloggers can ensure that they, and their content, are viewed in a similar light.

Depending on what it is that you're blogging about, there are likely huge similarities between you and your writing, and that of other journalists.

Take this article, for example. I'm writing it in the hopes that I will be of interest to readers. I'm covering a "breaking news" story and providing information, as well as context. I've long considered myself and other bloggers as journalists in this regard, and treated my writing with that level of care and professionalism.

That's not to say that there is no difference, of course. If this is your first time reading one of my blog posts, you may be struck by the conversational style of my writing - which is deliberate - but which contrasts sharply with the style of most journalistic work. While some of my articles are designed to report, my ultimate goal is always to teach and help, so I write using a style I refer to as "conversational lecture."

The point is, most bloggers would do well to consider themselves as journalists, at least some of the time, and being seen as journalists by your readers and potential readers will be quite rewarding.

What If I Want To Keep My Personal Facebook Profile Personal?

Some people enjoy keeping their Facebook profile - and more importantly, the status updates and pictures they share - personal and somewhat private. And that's completely understandable. Facebook has always been primarily about connecting with the people you know, friends and family, and it's likely that you're going to want to share completely different content with them than you might for "fans" of your writing.

So here are a couple of options.

Your first option is to simply pay attention to the selected audience of your posts and shares. While the default audience is Public, you have several other choices which can limit the audience of a particular share, including only to Friends. In fact, you can choose to only share with a list you've created, or even specific individuals. It's very much like Google+ Circles in that regard.

Or, alternatively, you might choose to use a Facebook Page, as we mentioned earlier. You can link to a brand page or, like many of my colleagues do, you might create a "Public Persona" Facebook Page that uses your name, but is not a personal profile. This gives you the freedom to use your personal profile for personal things, as well as removes the restriction on connections since your Page can have unlimited followers.

If you're concerned about your privacy, definitely consider those options and do whatever you think is best for you and your blog.

I also review and dispel several of the myths and misperceptions that have stopped some people from moving forward with implementing this feature.

I think you'll find adding Facebook Authorship capability to your content will certainly help to grow your Facebook audience. Give it a try, and let me know how it goes for you!

Was this article helpful? If so, I'd appreciate it if you helped me, and our fellow bloggers, by hitting some of the Share buttons below. Thanks!

Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner

Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.

Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."

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