Facebook has introduced an official WordPress plugin that it promises will make your blog or WordPress-powered website "deeply social."
Once installed and configured, the plugin makes your website function almost as an extension of Facebook. Every time you publish a blog post, you can simultaneously publish a link and summary about that post to Facebook. You can publish these to your personal profile, a Facebook business page, or both, adding a status message to go with the link through the WordPress interface. You can also tag your posts with references to Facebook friends and other people's pages, cross-posting to their pages in the process.
At the same time, you can turn on Facebook integration features for your website's public pages and posts, such as "Like" and "Send" buttons, Facebook-powered comments and recommendations, and links to the Facebook profiles and pages tagged in a blog post.
Many of these features were already available through other plugins that leveraged the Facebook APIs and developer kits. The great advantage of an official Facebook integration plugin is that it will be more likely to keep pace with changes in the Facebook platform, something other developers often struggle with.
The plugin is available for download from wordpress.org for installation on any website powered by the open source blogging and content management system. It was created by Facebook engineers in partnership with open source developers, including the staff of Automattic, the company that runs the wordpress.com blog hosting site and supports the open source project.
[ Learn more about Facebook Apps In Action. ]
The plugin was announced Tuesday in a blog post by Facebook engineer Matt Kelly
He wrote that, "WordPress powers 16.6% of the Web, from The New York Times to People magazine, and attracts more than 600 million unique visitors each month. We hope the plugin makes it possible for WordPress content to be shared even more widely among people."
Facebook tagging options in WordPress
I found the documentation relatively easy to follow. It does require you to register your website as a Facebook app, which is how you authorize it to perform actions on your behalf. If you want to authorize the app to update the personal profile of each blog-post author (assuming this is a site with multiple authors), you will need to go through some additional Open Graph configuration steps. I found this a little more confusing, never having been through the process before. You must specify that the application is authorized to publish Facebook posts, and you'll even need to provide a little documentation of your own--the instructions to be displayed to each author when they authorize the application to post on their behalf.
The support forum for the plugin is currently filling up with reports from people who had trouble setting up or using the plugin for one reason or another. I couldn't get it working on one site with a slightly more complicated setup, but on several others I had no trouble at all. Mainly, this is cause for WordPress fans to rejoice.
WordPress item on a Facebook page
WordPress item on a Facebook Timeline
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