A social media update that includes an image will be clicked much more then one without. Most updates today includes thumbnails to make the update more attractive for the end-user. When a blog, or other web site, shares content via share links or automatic updates the receiving site uses different methods to draft up the update layout. Most sites use the Open Graph protocol to do this, and the implementations differs a bit from site to site. LinkedIn however makes different implementations each time it seems.
In short it comes done to a few html meta tags on the webpage. Title, image and url for the page, article, post or what ever content being shared. When the receiving social media site prepares the "snippet" that is shown it will fetch these tags. If there unavailable the site crawler, most of the time, tries to extract the information it self. When you post an URL in the Facebook status update field this is what happens.
This can also be done automatically by your CMS or what ever publishing platform you are using. An other option is share links in your content that allows users to share the information on social media sites (like the ones at the bottom of this post). This works great on most sites like Facebook or Google+ but not on LinkedIn.
For more detailed information check out the Open Graph protocol website.
On LinkedIn it's hit and miss randomly more or less. The last few days I have been reading about a hundred forum threads, blog posts and other information about the problems with Open Graph on LinkedIn. The most common problem is with the thumbnails images, either they are not showing at all, they are blank or it's the wrong one.
LinkedIn missed the open graph tag for the featured image.
The update above doesn't really catch your eye in a flow of updates. So that results in less traffic for my post. I have checked several of my updates and the featured image is set with the correct open graph meta tag but is not picked up by LinkedIn. At the same time this works correctly with Facebook and Google+. All the code checks out when checked with the Open Graph testing tool.
LinkedIn ignores the open graph picture and takes on other one.
This post however get's an image and generated much more traffic then the other one but the picture is wrong. The picture in the snippet is an other picture inside the post but not the featured one tagged in the Open Graph meta tags. If you take the link to the same post and past it into the status update field on LinkedIn the correct image is fetched.
Why is this happening?
I can't really say that I have figured it out. This is what's stated by LinkedIn in there developers documentation about featured images:
LinkedIn Today requires images to be at least 80 x 150 pixels. If your images does not meet this minimum size, LinkedIn picks an appropriate image of the correct size. The image rules are:
if (og:image width > 150 && og:image height > 80) use it
else linkedin picks image
Note: Facebook also uses Open Graph tags, but does not require og:image sizes as large as LinkedIn. If you use the image size required by LinkedIn, the image is scaled down to work for Facebook.
I have checked, and double checked that the images meet these requirements. On the forums people using all sorts of platforms seems to be effected by this without any consistency. And as you could see above sometimes it fails in different ways but amazingly sometimes it actually works as well.
Some of the threads is on the official LinkedIn developers forum and the answers range from "problem with cache" to "it should work now, please try again" so no real revelations there either.
If you want to make sure that your updates look the way they should then you have to publish them manually. This will take care of your initial post, it is some extra work but it might be worth it. That also makes sure that the re-shares by other users on LinkedIn looks alright. How ever you will not be sure that is the case with the sharing people do via sharing buttons on your site. When writing this I have no solution to the problem and I think it's weak by LinkedIn that they haven't addressed this issue when it seems to be a lot of them.