Social media continues to rise in popularity, and it now represents and indispensable part of website promotion and discussion. WordPress developers, in particular, would do well to integrate their websites with Facebook; taking advantage of Facebook posts and comments can improve a website’s search engine optimization and propel it to the front of the pack in a typical Google search. While this feature is not supported by the software natively, there are a number of robust plugins for WordPress that allow direct communication between the content management software and Facebook, including the automatic posting of entries to a page or profile.
The Official Facebook Plugin
While WordPress once maintained that it would not integrate with social networks, the company has recently reversed its stance and has actually collaborated with Facebook to produce an official solution for integration. The plugin is called "Facebook," and it’s the official solution for WordPress blogs running version 3.0 or higher. Upon installation, the plugin initiates its own Dashboard control panel page where administrators can enable automatic posting of entries to Facebook as soon as they are published within the WordPress Dashboard itself.
While the plugin includes Facebook Insights integration, a website news feed, and customized Facebook widgets for the sidebar, it does not include the ability to create a new Facebook page tab within the Dashboard. This is a pretty big drawback for some users, and they might look for better support elsewhere.
Created by a third-party WordPress developer, the WPFacePages plugin is designed to work best with actual company pages on the popular social network, rather than on both pages and profiles. That gives it some page-centric features that business owners might enjoy, including the ability to create a custom tab for WordPress posts. In fact, the software even allows for the creation of a tab that will make Facebook users "like" the page before they can read the site’s posts. All published posts in WordPress are automatically sent to Facebook, and they can appear either on the timeline, in a custom tab within the company’s page, or in both locations.
Simple Facebook Connect
Long before the Automattic development team behind WordPress created their own official Facebook plugin, Simple Facebook Connect was doing the job in a pretty advanced way. The plugin was the first one to offer automatic posting to Facebook profiles or pages every time a new post was published in the WordPress Dashboard, and it was the first plugin to integrate things like social comments, and comment retrieval. With Simple Facebook Connect, the comment retrieval feature actually allows comments made on Facebook to be pulled right into the post on WordPress. That’s a great way to integrate both solutions for great cross-promotion.
Though the plugin features extensive Open Graph integration, including Facebook-credentialed comments and integrated "like" or "recommend" functionality, it does not allow site administrators to setup a custom Facebook tab from within the Dashboard area itself. Again, this is a significant lack of functionality for many more high-powered business users and marketing professionals.
WordPress Ultimate Facebook Plugin
Developed by the WPMU Dev group of WordPress developers, this plugin is easily the most advanced solution for Facebook integration available to the WordPress community. It features automated posting of content to Facebook from the Dashboard, as well as significant integration with Facebook login credentials and comments. Both a "like" and "send" button can be enabled with this plugin, allowing viral promotion of entries and pages produced by the WordPress software.
Notably, this plugin also shuns the creation of tabs from within the WordPress Dashboard, despite being easily the most comprehensive and advanced Facebook plugin available. This might be due to the lesser emphasis placed on tabs by Facebook since the Timeline update, or it might simply be an acknowledgement that the functionality is too difficult to code into an already-complex solution for Facebook integration. Either way, if this is a required feature, administrators are left with exactly one plugin for perfect, WordPress-Facebook integration with the Pages feature on Facebook.com
Plenty of Great Integration Options
Even without support for dynamic creation of a Facebook tab off-site using the Dashboard, these plugins represent really great ways to deeply integrate WordPress and Facebook. With shared comments, credentials, and posts, there’s really no limit to the kind of sharing and interaction that these plugins will foster upon installation.
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Juliana is a Blogger and Content developer based in Los Angeles for a Web Hosting provider. She develops content based on Web 2.0 solutions to further ‘Socialize’ your websites. You can follow her on syndicated content on Twitter @JulianaPayson and Google Plus for more great Social Media Optimization tips