Thursday, April 23, 2009

Feeding Your Blogs to your Facebook Public Profile Wall

The recent changes to the Facebook interface have caused a few minor headaches for us at Warwick. Over at Wolverhampton, Jo has been more welcoming of the changes, so for a balanced view check out her post on the situation.

Before the changes we could choose for our Fans to see a range of links, photos and applications when they visited the page. Now, with Public Profiles, all Fans arrive at the Wall when they visit.
This means 2 things:

1. Fans are not presented with the things we want them to know about.
2. If our wall is inactive our Public Profile looks like we have not been active on Facebook.

Because our Wall is not open for students to comment on this means that we have had to using it in other ways in order to get content onto our front page and in order to show that our Public Profile is active.

We have done this by feeding our Library blogs through Yahoo Pipes and into the Notes Application in Facebook which then publishes our blog posts to the Wall.

We could not use any of the RSS feed applications to do this because you are only allowed to feed one blog into Facebook Notes and Facebook Notes is the only application we can find that will publish RSS to the Wall.

So, how did we do that then??

Creating The Pipe

First we set up a Yahoo Pipes account at: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/ and then we used it to create a Pipe (a single RSS feed aggregating several blogs at one address) for all of the Library blogs.

This is done by going to "My Pipes" and "Create a Pipe" and then on the edit screen simply dragging the "Fetch Feed" module (from the "Sources" menu on the left) into the centre and add the url for the blog you want to feed first. Then add additional urls for any other blogs you want included in the Pipe. (Warwick currently has 5 Library blogs fed into it's Pipe, but these can be added to or deleted at any time).

Under the "Operators" menu on the left hand side you can select the "Sort" operator (just drag it into the centre of the screen) and add it to the Pipe after the blog urls. This allows you to control in which order the blog entries appear in the final feed. We decided to have them as most recent first so that the most current news will always appear at the top of the final feed regardless of which blog they came from.

Then we added the "Pipe Output" (which will appear in the centre section of your page automatically when you start adding other modules) to the end and this gave us our completed Pipe.

Once you have saved your Pipe you can find the RSS feed url by going to "My Pipes" and selecting the RSS icon on the right hand side of the screen next to the Pipe you want to use.

You will be able to take the url from the address bar of your browser and start stage 2 - adding the feed to Facebook Notes.

If you don;'t want to build the Pipe yourself, and if ours would suit your purposes, you can clone the Warwick Pipe by visiting our Pipe at Yahoo, selecting the "Clone" tab and swapping our blog urls for your own.

Adding the Feed To Facebook Notes

Log into Facebook and go to the Page Manager (now called Ads and Pages). Go to the Edit Page section of whichever Page you want to add the feed to.

Go to the Edit section of the Notes Application (you may need to install this application first). And click on "Edit import settings" or "Import a Blog" on the right hand side. From here you can add in the RSS address for the Pipe you have created.

This should now feed all of your blogs into your Notes and all of your Notes onto your Wall as the blogs are updated.

It took about a day for ours to start feeding but now that it does it requires no maintenance other than the occasional check to make sure no one has posted anything dodgy in response to our Notes. (There doesn't seem to be a way to stop Fans from commenting on Notes).

I'm not sure how clear those instructions are now I read them back! Feel free to ask for clarification.

2 comments:

Jo Alcock said...

Thanks for this Katharine, I've decided to add ours to the Notes application instead of RSS-Connect - it seems to make a lot more sense with the new structure of the Public Profiles.

Katharine said...

Thanks Jo,

I'm not sure that either is ideal, but the Notes at least allows the content to appear on the Wall.

You can still add additional notes, (I think) and you can of course post to your own wall, but its a bit annoying that whatever you post to your own wall is fed out to all your fans.

I'm wondering now what the purpose of "Updates" functionality is, given the way the Wall now works.

Ideally I would like to be able to choose which tab the fans land on - the stuff we really want them to see is in the Boxes tab, and if we wanted to we could reinstate RSS connectm or similar, to show our blogs there too. I dont suppose you have any insight into ways that this could be controlled?