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Finding the perfect facebook-WordPress system

| October 23, 2007 | 21 Comments

Welcome to our first guest post. The writer, Ryan Hellyer, is a PhD student studying supramolecular chemistry at the University of Otago in New Zealand (I don’t even know what that is, but it sounds like you need to be a bit smart to study that). In his spare time, he plays and organises ice hockey in his home town of Dunedin and develops websites including Dunedin Ice Hockey Association, ryanhellyer.net and Fresh Edge Hockey.

He gets to write here because:

  1. He is one of my favorite readers here on WordPressGarage (yes, that would be called favoritism).
  2. He plays and organizes ice hockey!! Any friend of hockey is a friend of mine.

And now, without further ado…Ryan gives us the results of his research into integrating WordPress with facebook.

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Hands up if you are one of those people who tirelessly adds their latest photos and stories to a collection of different social networking sites, or who manually add new links to your latest blog posts in a vain attempt to move traffic to your blog. Well there are much easier ways to do this automatically. Blog feeds are great things: not only can they be used directly by your site’s visitors, but you can also use them to post automatically to your facebook profile. The traditional way, which Miriam mentioned a while back, is to import the RSS feed via notes. However, this is not optimal, since the links from your facebook profile do not take the user directly to your blog, but to another Facebook page where your blog posts are displayed. So in theory your users never actually need to visit your blog, which is usually not what you want. Using facebook notes also only allows you to use one blog feed, whereas you may wish to display multiple feeds on your profile.

There is a solution! There are a range of applications for facebook which place your feed directly into your profile. Below are some that I tried and tested, and the results.

Feed Invasion 0/10 and Feed Reader 0/10

I couldn’t get either of these to work. Enough said!

Feed Invasion

 

Feed Reader

my RSS

my RSS 2/10

This is a very simple application with few options. It simply posts your feed title and the title of each blog post. It also has a My RSS title at the top buttons linking to the application – neither of which are likely to be particularly useful to your visitors. It does give the ability to add multiple blog feeds, however. The critical failing of this application is that when you click a blog post, it takes you to another page listing your blog posts and you have to re-find the post and click it again to reach the actual post!? Sheer madness and a good reason to steer well away from this application.

My RSS

SuperRSS

SuperRSS 3/10

Ugly is the word that comes to mind when thinking of SuperRSS. I’m not sure if it could display multiple feeds or not, the big buttons everywhere, strange placement of URLs and so forth was off-putting enough for me to get rid of it immediately.

Super RSS

Feed Friend RSS logo

Feed Friend RSS 4/10

This is a very basic application. It does offer the ability to add multiple feeds, shows date and time of each post but has no option to show an excerpt from each post.

Feed Friend RSS

Blog RSS Feed Reader 7/10

This application gives more options than the others, with a nice big title for your blog, a share button, the URL of your blog, your sub heading for your blog and an RSS subscribe button. However I couldn’t get it to work with multiple blogs which was annoying and it has a big advertisement for William.com below your blog posts. It does allow you to add images to spice up the look of the application which is a nice touch, and it publishes your blog posts to your news/mini-feed. This application certainly wins the prize for most options, although it is not the most elegant looking one.

Blog RSS Feed Reader

WordBook

WordBook 7/10

WordBook is different from all the others as it is actually a WordPress Plugin as well as a facebook application. I haven’t quite figured out why WordBook needs to also be a WordPress plugin, but it seems to work quite well and it displays your posts in a very nice manner with full excerpts of each blog post to lure your visitors in. It does update your news/mini-feed immediately whereas the other applications generally took a while if it all. The main problem however, is that it can not support more than one blog feed and this may make it unusable for some people (although the developer does intend to include multiple feeds in a future release). It also caches your posts, so if you post something by mistake (I posted this particular post in draft form accidentally) and delete it from your WordPress blog immediately, it will still be stuck on your facebook profile till you manually reset it.

WordBook

Simply RSS

Simply RSS 9/10

Simply RSS is the most elegant of all the applications I have tested. Uniquely, it can display your blog posts in the left hand or right hand side of your profile in a neat ordered list with posts sorted into dates and a title for each blog. This is by far my favorite option. It is simple, easy to use and doesn’t look like some tacky old facebook application. It can also display a description of what the feeds are about and why people should visit the links. The only problem it has is that it can’t display an excerpt of each post and it doesn’t support more than three different blog feeds.

Simply RSS

And last … but definitely not best!
RSS Scroller

RSS Scroller -1/10

The prize for strangest design goes to RSS scroller! As it’s title says, it scrolls your blog posts. Now this wouldn’t be too weird by itself, except you need to click a link to reach the scroller. The first time I tried using this application there was no option to click the blog posts as they passed by, the scroller just sat and stared at me! However I decided to give it another crack a few weeks later and it worked this time. It’s pretty annoying having to wait for the posts to scroll by though. Why someone would want to use this is beyond me. I found it incredibly frustrating and it’s negative rating reflects that. The designers ought to stick to the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid) rather than going for the retro 1999′esque route.

RSS Feed Scroller

when you click the button above, it leads you to something resembling this (except the real version scrolls) …

RSS Feed Scroller

Hopefully my little spiel on FaceBook/WordPress integration is of use to some of you. This technique is not possible on Bebo currently, but you may be able to use it with other social networking sites (I haven’t tried any others).

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Category: Tips

About Miriam Schwab: Miriam is the friendly CEO of illuminea, a WordPress design and development agency. Miriam is a huge fan of WordPress and has been using it for over five years now. In addition, Miriam and her team have been organizing the local Israeli WordCamp conferences for the past few years. View author profile.


Comments (21)

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  1. Darren says:

    Lots of great info here – thanks!

  2. Miriam says:

    Thanks Darren! I checked out your work, and your designs are really amazing. Also, Mimbo is such a great theme!

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Mirror Blog says:

    Mirror Blog is an application that integrates your existing blog into facebook. It archieves that by mirroring your existing into your facebook account.
    Mirror Blog is a fully functioned blog writer. You can do blogging without leaving facebook.

    The Mirror Blog supports all blogs powered by WordPress, including blogs hosted on wordpress.com. The setup is easy and you don’t need to change anything on your blog host.

    Here is the Mirror Blog application URL:
    http://apps.facebook.com/mirrorblog/

  4. Ryan says:

    Perhaps I misinterpreted this application, but here’s my take on it …

    I’m not going anywhere near that thing! It’s a good idea, but you seem to need to give it your WordPress login and password to make it work. I’m not going to enter my username and password into some strange website.

    Surely a better way to do it, would be to develop a plugin for WordPress which can read your posts from FaceBook and have an application for FaceBook which can read your posts from WordPress. Then they could sync between themselves to achieve the same effect? That way you wouldn’t need to worry about security problems.

  5. Miriam says:

    Ryan – here’s an idea about how to integrate your facebook posts into your blog, but I don’t know if it would work: using the RSS feeds in facebook. Notes and Posted Items in facebook both have RSS feeds: one for your own stuff, and one for your friends’ stuff. Maybe you could display that RSS feed on your blog in the sidebar or something.

  6. Ryan says:

    Miriam – yeah, I’ve considered trying that.

    Perhaps take both RSS feeds, aggregate them into one feed and post to your blog from the RSS feed rather than via WordPress. Then you would have a fully integrated system. Whatever you posted on FaceBook would appear on WordPress. Then import either your pure WordPress feed, or the combined feed back into FaceBook as well.

    It would require quite a bit of hacking of your WordPress theme though and could get tricky making sure your categories etc. are intact.

    I wonder if there’s a way to get an RSS feed of your FaceBook Wall? If so, I’d like to combine that with my WordPress guest book. It would beef up my rather small looking guest book and make replying to FaceBook wall posts more worth while.

  7. Ryan says:

    Actually … I can’t figure out how to get access to a FaceBook wall feed. I suspect FaceBook doesn’t want us doing that and has intentionally not provided a convenient way to do it :(

    A script could probably be made to log in, scrape the wall items out and repost them on your blog. But that’s a long way beyond my programming abilities unfortunately :(

  8. Ryan says:

    I tried creating a FaceBook group today and then went to setup an RSS feed into it. But I can’t figure out how!

    Is it possible to add applications to a group? I couldn’t see any obvious way to do it. Hopefully someone can help. I tried googling for an answer but didn’t find anything useful.

  9. Miriam Schwab says:

    Ryan – groups are the most boring and useless things on facebook. People join and just sit around looking at each other, since there’s not much to be done there.

    You should really look into creating a facebook page instead. It’s like a group, and people can join and become fans, but it has more functionality like the ability to add apps, including apps that import RSS feeds.

    I started to create a facebook page for WordPressGarage, but haven’t finished yet.

  10. Ryan says:

    FaceBook page? I’ve never heard of that before.

    I’ll have a bash at it now and see if I can get it to work. Perhaps all the things I thought were groups are actually pages perhaps?

  11. Ryan says:

    Excellent :) That worked perfectly.

    Here’s the final result … http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=8011911769

    I’m also testing out a new RSS feed reader for FaceBook. It’s called “Sweet RSS Feed Reader”, but it’s not working as yet, although sometimes the applications take an hour or so to display the feed so I haven’t given up on it yet.

    I’m using “SimplyRSS” in the right hand column for the main feed from our official site and I’m (trying) to use “Sweet RSS Feed Reader” for our forum feed in the main central column.

  12. Ryan says:

    “Sweet RSS Feed Reader” conclusion: It works fine if you want a simple RSS feed reader for your profile, but it doesn’t work for FaceBook pages.

    The reader appears, but it doesn’t display any posts. It did appear in my personal profile where it displayed the posts but I didn’t even ask it do that!?

  13. [...] My article is here … Finding the perfect Facebook-WordPress system [...]

  14. Joseph says:

    Hi There
    I have started to use a facebook application called Flog Blog which seems to do everything I need. Have you checked it out and how would you rate compared to the others.
    Joseph

  15. Luke says:

    Anyone know of a plugin for WP that allows visitors to the site to publish the WP post content on their Facebook page?

  16. Ohh, thank you so much
    I’ve seen a dozen of different applications, and I just could not choose which one to use

    But you article helped a lot!

    Thanks again

  17. [...] Finding the perfect facebook WordPress system WordPress Garage Posted by root 1 hour 34 minutes ago (http://wpgarage.com) Uniquely it can display your blog posts in the left hand or right hand side of the mirror blog supports all blogs powered by wordpress including blogs hosted on wordpress com post a comment name required Discuss  |  Bury |  News | Finding the perfect facebook WordPress system WordPress Garage [...]

  18. Ryan says:

    This article is now quite out of date and there are better ways of doing this. Here are some handy links to new tools which are available for integrating WordPress, Twitter and FaceBook:

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/feedwordpress/
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/twitter-tools/
    http://apps.facebook.com/twitter/

  19. [...] awesome post on facebook applications to display multiple [...]

  20. [...] awesome post on facebook applications to display multiple [...]

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