Part of my freelance duties includes maintaining several WordPress (WP) blogs and recently one of them required that I connect it with a Facebook account. Of course, you can always manually copy and paste a URL into a status update, but doing that every time you have a blog post or update takes up another set of steps and configuring. What if you could just set up an automatic connection from your WP blog to post updates to your associated Facebook account so all your peeps can follow your latest post? And what if I told you there is a way for your blog to automatically submit a timeline update of the post to your Facebook page? It can be done! After a little research, I found a WP plugin that does the trick, so I thought it would make for a good tutorial for other WP bloggers. The big advantage of course is the administrative overhead reduction of having to manually update Facebook statuses every time your blog updates, and then multiply that by how many WP blogs you maintain!
Follow the steps below to download and install the SharePress Plug-In by Fat Panda, create a Facebook App, and then associate the Facebook App ID and App Secret with the SharePress Plugin to allow the connection. The steps to installing the plugin, creating the Facebook App, and configuring the settings are all reviewed in this tutorial. SharePress also connects your WP blog to Twitter, but the focus of this tutorial will be with setting up the plugin to make the Facebook connection. If you have a Facebook business account only, Fat Panda has a good FAQ on creating a Facebook personal account. For SharePress to work, you have to create a Facebook Application, which in turn requires that you have a Facebook personal account.SharePress delivers with three versions:
- The free version will allow you to automatically publish WP posts to your personal Facebook wall. WP posts will automatically publish to Facebook when they go live, including any you have scheduled for future publication.
- The Pro Version for just $24 US will allow you to do the same functions as the free version with the addition of the following:
- Publish to any/all of the Facebook pages you manage
- Publish to your Twitter followers
- Customize each Facebook status message
- Control the image Facebook uses just by setting the post's featured image
- Customize Twitter status hash tag
- Delay SharePress' sharing for minutes, hours, or days after a post goes live
- Schedule reposts of your content: keep traffic flowing to your site day and night
- Get e-mail based support directly from the developer, often on the same day
- The Developers Version for $120 US includes all of the above and allows you to use SharePress on as many WP powered websites as you please with the added features of:
- Email support (usually with same-day response)
- Regular updates promoted through the WordPress extensions directory
- An open dialog about new features and compatibility development
Also, if you already have a single-site license you can upgrade to the developer's license for $96.
Install the SharePress plugin
To get started, log into your WP blog with an administrator account and go to the WP Plugin Directory for SharePress. Download the latest version that is compatible with your version of WP; at this writing, the latest SharePress is version 2.2.8. I highly recommend that you maintain the latest stable version of WP for your blog. You then expand the zip file and copy or FTP the SharePress folder to your wp-content/plugins folder. Alternatively, you can automatically install the plugin from the "Plugins" tab of your WP Dashboard following these easy steps:
1. Log into the WP blog with administrator rights.
2. Click the Plugins tab and then at the top left click the Add New button.
3. In the search bar type in SharePress and click "Search Plugins" button.
4. Find the Plugin from the list (two showed up in my search) and then click Install Now.
You may be asked to provide your FTP hostname, username, and password if you have not already set this up from your dashboard, this helps WP facilitate the direct installation to the WP plugins directory.
5. Once the plugin is installed you will need to "Activate" it, select "Yes" if prompted. We are not finished with the plugin just yet, but now we need to go to our Facebook account and create a Facebook App.
Create your Facebook Application
For the next steps, you need to create your Facebook Application, which will be associated with the SharePress plugin; This will allow your WP blog to connect with the Facebook account or multiple Facebook accounts. Fat Panda warns that you may be asked to provide an identity confirmation before you start creating the Facebook Application, which could require you to add a mobile phone number or credit card number to your Facebook profile.
1. First, you need to go get to the Facebook Developers Application page to create your new app.
2. At the top right of the Facebook Developers Apps page you will need to click the "+ Create New App" button.
3. Next, it is going to ask you to create an App Name. It is recommended that you put your WP blog name into that field.
4. SharePress does not require that the Facebook App have an App Namespace, but you can enter one if you want.5. The Web Hosting option can be left unchecked, as shown in Figure G below.
6. Click Continue and then you will be asked to answer a Captcha security check; enter the phrase and then click Continue again to go to the Facebook Application Basic settings page.
7. Here, you will configure your Facebook application. In this panel you will need to set the App Domain to the domain name of your WP blog (e.g. "domainname.com"), and then in the Website with Facebook Login, enter the full URL of the WP blog home page (e.g. http://www.WPwebsitehomepage.com).
8. Be sure you record the generated App ID and App Secret, which are displayed at the top of the basic app settings. When you are finished, click the Save Changes button.
Now that the Facebook Application has been created, it is time to associate Facebook App ID and App Secret with the SharePress plugin.
1. Go back to your WP admin panel and then click on the Plugins tab.
2. Find SharePress and click Settings. Alternatively, you can click the Settings tab and then click on SharePress to open the SharePress settings panel.3. Enter the Facebook App ID and App Secret, and then click Connect (see Figure I below).
4. You may be asked by Facebook to Allow the Request for Permission for the WP blog to access the Facebook account. Click Allow. Now you can go back to the WP dashboard and the SharePress panel to configure any settings you with to make.
SharePress settings options
Several of the SharePress setting options are reviewed below.Share by Default? - You always get to choose whether or not a post gets shared. This setting sets up the default choice. Typically you will use the "Yes, share by default" setting. Post Link - Append post link to the end of Facebook messages? The default setting is "Yes" Share Delay - In some instances it may be necessary or desirable to delay sharing with SharePress until a certain time after a post goes live on your site. You can configure a global default for that delay below. The setting delay can be set to minutes, hours, or days. Run Setup Again - If you need to change Facebook Application keys, run setup again. Click the "Run Setup Again" button. This can happen if the Facebook App was not set up correctly.
Once you get your settings complete click the Save Settings button at the bottom of the SharePress panel, and you are good to go. Publish a new blog post and test the functionality by going to your Facebook page to see the new post on the Facebook timeline.
Ryan has performed in a broad range of technology support roles for electric-generation utilities, including nuclear power plants, and for the telecommunications industry. He has worked in web development for the restaurant industry and the Federal government.