Sunday, February 21, 2010...1:45 pm

WordPress/Facebook integration fail

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I’ve been wittering on about social networks to students at Solent University recently, so I thought I ought to put my money where my mouth is and link Freelance Unbound to Facebook.

Apart from being a useful technical exercise, it should be interesting to see if it encourages some of my Facebook network – a lot of whom are in the media – to visit the blog. For some reason (not, surely, because Freelance Unbound is a dull read) my real-world media acquaintances don’t seem to visit it – or other blogs. Perhaps exposing them to this content in a different environment might help increase my audience.

So – how did it go?

It should have been straightforward. There’s even the handy WPBook WordPress plugin that does exactly that. And a search for “WordPress Facebook” on Google turns up a useful tutorial from Smashing Magazine as the first search result.

The first step is to create a Facebook app to embed your site on your Facebok profile. This is less daunting than it sounds. The Facebook developer process seems simple enough. Just fill in a few URLs and copy the Facebook API key number to the WPBook plugin and you’re sorted.

The problem came when I went to the Facebook app address to embed it into my Facebook profile. The login cycle seemed to go on forever, interrupted only by the occasional “Fatal Error” and PHP error message. And when a feed from the blog did finally appear on Facebook, it proved impossible to add it onto my profile – for some reason the “Add” button wouldn’t activate.

All very frustrating. Given that social networking seems to be taking over from long-form blogging as the primary creative activity online, I’m keen to figure out how to make them talk to each other – especially as some of my students have expressed an interest in creating projects that integrate social networking functionality.

Anyone with any experience with WordPress and Facebook? Input welcome…

[UPDATE: One more attempt and, as if by magic, the “add app to profile” button worked. For a few brief moments I created a headline feed from Freelance Unbound to my Facebook profile – success! And then, of course, it vanished the next time I refreshed the screen. More attempts to follow, until I lose the will to live…]

[UPDATE 2: As if by magic, the widget reappeared. Visitors to my Facebook page now get to see the latest headlines from Freelance Unbound in all their glory. For what it’s worth. Should I create a Freelance Unbound Facebook page to draw in eager readers? Maybe I should quit while I’m ahead…]

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