Muschamp Rd

Facebook for WordPress plugin

September 9th, 2012
Facebook Logo

The install did not go smoothly. The plugin is installed and is at least partially working but despite reading the official instructions, unofficial instructions, and having someone I know say how easy it was. I started to regret abandoning Networked Blogs

I had used Networked Blogs to automatically put my most recent blog posting on my Facebook timeline. It worked but it was a bit slow. If you had a blog hosted on WordPress.com you didn’t need a third party service or a special plugin, but after Facebook released it’s own WordPress plugin the writing was on the wall…

I’ve actually created and registered a Facebook APP before. I’ve gone through the Open Graph documentation. I’ve got things to work so the fact that this was not a simple and pain free process for me, strongly implies it isn’t as easy as people imply.  I talked Craig into switching to DISQUS for comments which is what I’ve been using for years. I’ve got YARPP working now too, but I decided to try out first the Recommendation Box and then the Recommendation Bar, neither overwhelmed.

I’m not sure the bar fits perfectly into my WordPress theme. The settings imply it should appear everywhere, but it only seems to appear on individual posts. Perhaps the issues I encountered while setting up my blog’s Facebook App had something to do with it. I’ll know after I publish this and maybe get someone else to look at my blog who is a Facebook fanatic. The box didn’t recommend anything and the bar seems to recommend images that people have stolen from my blog and then hotlinked to. I’ve put an end to hotlinkers on Muschamp.ca, but it might have cost me some GoogleJuice or Klout. The Facebook Recommendations Bar is supposed to increase my ‘likes’ or referrals or traffic by a factor of three.

Or maybe not.

Regardless I’ll let it run for a while, it isn’t too intrusive. Not everyone who claims to be a social media expert actually knows what they are talking about. The Facebook Open Graph is not simple and developer documentation can give you a headache, hopefully installing this plugin goes better for others or they find a way to simplify and expedite the process or I don’t see it catching on with the average blogger.

I’ll have to look into the various plugins I use to put meta data into the head portion of my blog as Facebook’s OpenGraph wants lots of special meta data for their fanciest like button to work perfectly. I know because I used it in some of the mashups and news aggregators I made. I use Digg Digg to display my social share buttons. I like it and it is easy to add or remove a button, but Facebook is still the largest online social network so using their latest greatest code makes sense. My hope is the new developers of Digg Digg will keep improving it and perhaps they handle the meta data for bloggers who use their plugin. Or maybe I should finally switch to Yoast’s SEO plugin it supposedly handles Open Graph meta data.  I use more plugins than I would like, but they each do something and I’ve been blogging for longer than most so I know the problems spammers and other Internet assholes can cause. A lot of the plugins I use prevent spam or supposedly help with search engine performance.

I also have several web analytics plugins and the new Facebook plugin seems to have added Facebook Insights to my WordPress menu. Yet another thing to keep an eye on in the coming months. I already have Webalizer from my web host, Mint, Google Analytics, and WordPress Stats. I’m not sure any one of these is a big performance hit, but most everyone uses Google Analytics but I check Mint or WordPress Stats much more frequently. They are both quick and easy to use.

If you still want to use the Facebook for WordPress plugin, here are two posts that I attempted to follow while installing it:

Update Sept 11 2012

Yesterday was a bit of a busy day for me so I haven’t really progressed with the fixing and testing of the Facebook for WordPress plugin. I’m not even sure what is wrong if anything. I followed the instructions but things did not go quite right, yet it is clearly doing something, even if it isn’t auto posting my new posts to my timeline (wall) like it is supposed to. The Recommendations Bar has also been a disappointment.

Installing this plugin and turning your WordPress blog into a fully functioning Facebook App is not a simple process. I have questions and I’m not sure where to ask them besides Stack Overflow. You used to be much more on your own back in the day, now at the first sign of trouble people run to Google or Stack Overflow… I still have my Kernighan and Ritchie C book. When I was a software developer, other developers would come to me to borrow my books, occasionally one would go missing…  Facebook Recommendation Bar Error likely due to slow Internet connection

My biggest concern with this plugin besides the fact it is difficult to set up, doesn’t work very well, is performance. Between this plugin, DISQUS 2012, and all the other plugins that use JavaScript I think my blog is loading slower. This became very apparent when trying to access it on BC Ferries yesterday. People are impatient. If they can’t find the information they desire in a few seconds, they’ll hit the back button and look at the next result in Google. I and my blog used to be more popular in say 2005. I don’t think any plugin is to blame, but I’ve definitely missed out on opportunities that now are not readily available…

I took some screenshots of things that confuse me about the current Facebook App registration process.

Where did all these actions come from and how come I can't submit them?

After turning on the Recommendation Bar and Social Publisher my blog’s Facebook App looks like the screenshot above. What am I supposed to do next? Anything?

I filled this out, but can not submit it either without providing screen shots.

I can add more details about my Facebook App, but without filling out every section including providing screenshots of my app I get more errors and warnings. Is all this necessary just to share my blog posts automatically to my timeline?

Recommended content from DISQUS and Facebook

Just as I was about to update this post I noticed DISQUS 2012 which I just enabled is also providing recommendations. Now I have three recommendation plugins. This seems like overkill. I also have at least three analytical tracking plugins. That also seems like overkill. These plugins all use JavaScript and seem to be obviously doing the same work. I’m going to have to streamline things at some point. I only just got YARPP post working again only to see DISQUS and Facebook come out with similar features in their plugins. Looking at the screenshot, clearly DISQUS is returning better results.

I don’t know if it is due to my incorrect registration of my blog as a Facebook App or because I’m the blog’s author but no matter what post I go to, Facebook think’s the most relevant content is a picture of Chris Lytle getting punched in the face or a test post I made while trying to get the Social Publisher feature working. YARPP uses textual analysis along with the taxonomy of my blog to recommend posts to readers. DISQUS seems to use which posts are most commented on or commented on recently. Facebook is supposed to consider what content is getting shared on their social network, particularly by my friends. Some of my friends like MMA, but no one shared my test post, no one but me.

My blog has been online since 2005. There is dubious content. Surely Facebook can do a better job at recommending content than this?

I’ll just leave things as is for a week or so, try to find some answers, but I might just go DISQUS. It really isn’t huge that my posts automatically appear on my timeline… Does the Facebook Recommendation Bar work better for actual readers?


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