The recent changes at Facebook have made it even easier for businesses to jump on the social media bandwagon. While most of the news has been about setting up your Facebook business page, you also need a way to integrate Facebook on your website. If you want to grow your Facebook page followers, or show off how many you already have, the Facebook Members plugin for WordPress is an easy way to do it. Here’s my honest review of the plugin and its features.
Facebook has become one of the best social media tools for gaining traffic to your site and directly engaging your audience. There are a lot of apps and plugins available for exporting your blog posts to your Facebook page, but until recently there haven’t been many apps to bring Facebook to your website.
The Facebook Members plugin makes it easy for you to place a widget in your sidebar that shows off your hard-earned fan base.
To the left is a screenshot of the widget on one of my WordPress Training client sites, The Book Doula. As you can see, the widget displays thumbnails of the people who enjoy the page, which draws the reader’s eye to it. And, it places the Like button right at the top. All of this makes it very easy to encourage your site readers to become a fan of your Facebook page too.
Tell it to Me Straight
As a trainer, I’m a real stickler for offering clear instructions on how to setup and use anything. Most WordPress plugins are sparse on such things and most don’t even provide screenshots of the what the plugin looks like in use. This one does have screenshots, and while the instructions are easy, you have to poke around on two pages to see how to properly configure it.
On the Descriptions page it does tell you that you can display a Like Box on any page or post. On the FAQ tab it gives you the shortcode for how to do that. But, many novice WordPress users may not make the connection between those two, where to place the shortcode, or the fact that the Option Panel is the module to modify to control that boxes display.
Setting it Up
After installing the plugin, the options configuration can be found as a sub-link under the Settings link in the left sidebar of any admin page. You will be presented with two option panels. The first one is labeled Option Panel and the second one is labeled Widget/Sidebar Options.
The Facebook Page Name is not the title of your page. It’s the URL and you only include the portion that comes after the http://www.facebook.com part of the URL.
If you want to include the entire box, just like the one shown above, in your blog post or page, place the shortcode <!–facebook-members–> in the text editor while in the HTML view mode. The parameters for how this box appears are controlled by the settings in the Option Panel module.
If the Show Stream radio button is clicked to No (the default setting), then thumbnails of your fans will be displayed. If it is set to Yes, a stream of your recent postings on Facebook will be displayed.
If the Show Header radio button is set to Yes (the default), a header with “Find Us on Facebook” will be displayed above the box.
The # of Connections setting must coordinate with the width and height settings. I left the dimensions to the standard settings and was able to easily display the default of ten thumbnails, five each in two rows. I set the Connections to 20 and nothing changed. I increased the size of the box, and was able to show more or less connections.
The options for the in the Widget/Sidebar module are much the same. You can choose the title for the widget’s header. It’s a real bonus that you can choose the dimensions to exactly match your sidebar size.
Beside the Update Options button at the bottom of the Widget/Sidebar module is a link to further customize the box. It takes you to the plugin’s site with instructions to change the CSS code. If you are not familiar with code, I suggest you don’t attempt this modification.
Overall, I like this plugin and will be recommending it to my clients. I appreciate that it uses Facebook’s API for the Like button, meaning that it relies directly on Facebook’s code to reproduce the button and fan thumbnails on your site. And, it has a very clean look. Since you can adjust so many critical parameters, you should be able to match it to your site’s size needs easily.