When Facebook isn’t using the Featured Image for your WordPress Post

Annoying, Isn’t It?

I hate it when things beyond my control affect my clients’ web sites. Facebook is too-often one of those things. So when I received an email this morning from a client stating that Facebook wasn’t using his post’s featured image but was pulling other images from the site instead, I wasn’t surprised. But finding a solution to these issues is another matter.

The Featured Image Was Correct

My first suspicion was that the client hadn’t correctly set the featured image, or had forgotten to update the page after the image was set. Yet, upon inspection, the featured image existed and was displaying properly on the web site. Yet when I posted the URL to the post on the client’s Facebook page, only two image options were available. They happened to be from the front page and neither of them was the correct featured image.

So, on to Google… and the Diagnosis

After some time searching, I discovered the reason why this was occurring.  Apparently, my client had initially published the post without a featured image. We use the Social plugin from Mailchimp/Crowd Favorite to automatically post his blog articles to Facebook. So Facebook did what it was supposed to. It grabbed a couple of images from the front page and offered those as options for the post. However, when the featured image was added later, Facebook continued to insist that only those two image options could be used. Here’s why…

When a post or page is shared on Facebook, it stores the images from that URL in its own cache to use in the future. Facebook is not going to look at that URL again for different images until their cache expires. And nobody outside Facebook really knows how long that will be (hours? days? weeks? months?). But there is a way to fix it…

The Solution

There is a little-known tool provided by Facebook that allows you to force it to look at your page or post again and refresh the Facebook image cache for that URL. Here it is:


Add your URL in the box at the top of the page and Facebook will scan it for the new image to share and give you a preview of what your post/share will look like at the bottom. In my experience, you sometimes must submit the page more than once to get the correct image to show up. But in the end, it will, and your featured image will shine.

57 thoughts on “When Facebook isn’t using the Featured Image for your WordPress Post”

  1. Thanks so much for this, was wondering why facebook couldn’t see the featured picture, debug done and all pretty now. Is there a debug for pinterest as well which does the same thing??

  2. I tried this with one of my blog post links, and it worked after the second time it scraped information! Thank you, now it’s showing me the featured image! However, does that mean i need to run each of my blog post links through Object Debugger for Facebook to always pull the featured image?

    • No, the tool is useful if you want to test what will show when a link is shared or if you want to force Facebook to recognize a change to the image it had previously scraped for the URL.

  3. Hi Nathan,

    I’m so glad I found your article with the link to this tool. It’s solved the issue I was having. Thanks for sharing it.

    • If you’re not getting any images at all, and you do have a featured image set, it’s likely your theme is not providing Open Graph information in the header – so Facebook doesn’t know what to do.

      Here are a couple of plugins that might help:

      This one (wordpress.org/plugins/get-first-image-set-as-featured-image/) will grab the first image in your post and automatically set it as the featured image if one has not been set already. You don’t need to use this one if you have already manually set a featured image.

      This one (wordpress.org/plugins/meta-tags-generator/) will add the correct open graph code to your header so the correct images will appear.

      Good luck!

  4. Hello Nathan!

    Great tip! 😀

    Any way to do this automatically from the website? Otherwise, I need to do this every time I post a new post…!!


    • Ian, you should only have to go through this process if a post that was previously indexed by Facebook has been changed.

  5. Aces! After struggling with this issue more than once, it’s great to finally know how to sort it quickly. Thank you so much for sharing, it’s really appreciated!

  6. As a thank you for this info, I would make you a big batch of macarons, or a gluten-free vegan chocolate cake that would knock your socks off, or a bunch of cushions for your sofa!! This has made me CRAZY for ages. You are a STAR…

  7. Thank you this worked perfectly! And I love how you started the article: Annoying, isn’t it? YES! So happy to have a solution – thanks for figuring this out!

  8. apparently I am the only one the re-scrapes aren’t working for. FB is locking me into the missing image box and there isn’t much I can do about it I suppose.

  9. Hi, When debug a URL then it shows error that is “The following required properties are missing: fb:app_id”. It is necessary to have app id as to preview image?

    • That’s odd. I haven’t seen that before. I don’t believe I have an app ID on any of my sites and the debug works correctly.

  10. I have been debugging and it looks ok, the featured images shows up in the debugging tool, but not on Facebook!! Going in circles now. Any tips??

    • Have you tried removing the link on Facebook and re-adding? Using the Facebook debug tool will not usually update the image on links that are already posted.

  11. I used debugger tool and found that in some articles the images is being shown while in some the images is not getting fetched. I think it has something to do with image size as well.

  12. When I run the tool it says that I need to have an app created??

    caution-solid Warnings That Should Be Fixed
    Missing Properties
    The following required properties are missing: fb:app_id

  13. Hi, I use All in one SEO, and manage to get the featured images to appear in Facebook. But I cannot get the StartPage Image to show despite I have tried the same solutions as on my article pages. Any tips for that?

    • It’s probably because a featured image isn’t defined for the home page. You can add a featured image on the page itself in the sidebar or use a plugin like Default Featured Image to set a fallback image in case one doesn’t exist.

    • It can take several times in my experience. If it’s still not working after 5-7 attempts, perhaps you have some kind of WP or server cache that needs to be cleared?

  14. I’ve been struggling for at least six hours on this and you’ve solved it in 10 minutes. You are now officially on my genius list (it’s a short list).

    Thanks a million Nathan.

  15. Should it be necessary to re-post to Facebook after scraping before the correct image will display in people’s newsfeeds, or should scraping using the debugger fix the image displayed in posts that have already gone public?

    • Facebook unfortunately won’t go back and change the images that are already shared. If you want your post to reflect a new image, you’ll need to repost.


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