Finding the perfect facebook-WordPress system
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:
- He is one of my favorite readers here on WordPressGarage (yes, that would be called favoritism).
- 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And last … but definitely not best!
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.
when you click the button above, it leads you to something resembling this (except the real version scrolls) …
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).