SharePress is a WordPress plugin that lets you automatically send updates to Twitter and Facebook whenever you publish a blog post. I started using it on WP Mods yesterday and it works really well. Before I look at the plugin, let’s look at why I have been searching for a good way to update Twitter and Facebook directly via WordPress.
The Problem with An Integrated WordPress Social Media Solution
Those of you who follow WP Mods regularly will know that I have been searching for a reliable plugin for some time that will update WP Mods Twitter followers and Facebook fans whenever the site is updated. Previously I used Twitterfeed for updating Twitter and the Facebook application RSS Graffiti for updating Facebook.
Both of these services are very reliable. The only drawback is that they both rely on your RSS feed in order to update your accounts. This means that if there is a problem with your RSS feed, your Twitter and Facebook accounts will not be updated. This can be a big problem if something goes wrong with your feed, and there is always a risk of that if you use an external service such as Feedburner to handle your RSS feeds.
Whilst WP Mods gets a lot of traffic from search engines and directly from people entering the URL, regular readers get updated about new articles via RSS, Twitter or Facebook. My previous setup meant that if for any reason the WP Mods RSS feed went down, not only would RSS subscribers not know that we had published a new post, Twitter and Facebook followers wouldn’t either.
I’ve also been a little frustrated by how RSS Graffiti works recently. The service pulls the first image from the RSS feed and uses it as a thumbnail on Facebook. In theory this should always work well though in practice it’s a real pain as the first image in a post is not always the most suitable. There’s a bigger problem for those who have advertisements in their RSS feed. At the moment ThemeFuse have a banner ad at the top of the WP Mods feed. Due to this, RSS Graffiti has been using it as the thumbnail for every Facebook update.
Another reason I have been trying to find a plugin solution for updating Twitter and Facebook is because of me switching to the Livefyre Commenting System. One of the best features of Livefyre is its ability to import Twitter and Facebook comments directly into the discussion on your website. For example, if you tweet about this post or leave a message via Facebook, Livefyre will add the messages here too. Unfortunately, this feature didn’t work before because Facebook updates were being updated indirectly via the RSS feed rather than the actual post URL.
Over the last few days I’ve been tried out a few WordPress plugins such as WP Book and Publish to Facebook but they didn’t seem to work for me. The plugin that did look like it did everything I wanted was called SharePress.
SharePress Plugin Features
SharePress was one of the first plugins I tried a few days ago. The plugin was developed by Aaron Collegeman and is free to download however the free version is limited to only updating your personal Facebook profile. Thankfully there is a premium version that lets you automatically post updates to any Facebook page.
The SharePress plugin allows you to:
- Publish your WordPress posts to any/all of the Facebook pages you manage
- Publish to your Facebook wall
- 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 hashtag
- Delay SharePress’ sharing for minutes, hours, or days after a post goes live
- Publish while you sleep: social messaging is published when posts go live
- Schedule reposts of your content: keep traffic flowing to your site day and night
There is only one version of SharePress. By upgrading to the premium version you are simply unlocking features that have been restricted (e.g. posting to Facebook pages).
Settings such as whether posts are shared by default and whether a link is attached to message updates can be configured though most people will probably be content with the way things are set up by default.
I haven’t tested it as yet though the plugin appears to allow you to automatically update an unlimited number of Facebook pages. This would allow you to update your websites Facebook fan page and your own Facebook profile with the same message. These settings can be overwritten in the post itself if you decide to publish to a different page or profile.
Integrate Twitter via SharePress
In order to update Twitter as well you need to create an application and get consumer and access token and secret codes. A hashtag can be applied to all tweets and you can configure Bit.ly as well to make the URL shortening process more reliable.
Don’t worry too much about creating a Twitter application as the plugin walks you through the exact steps you need to take to get everything working. There is also a test button that you can click to make sure the connection to Twitter is working ok.
SharePress gives you three options for the thumbnail image on Facebook. You can use the same image for all posts, the first image uploaded to the post or the post featured image. The featured image is by far the best to use in my opinion.
When the plugin published a post update today from WP Mods to Facebook it used the global image instead of the post featured image. This was due to a clash with the Facebook Comment Import plugin I was using at the time (and have since deactivated).
There’s also a useful option for delaying your post from being shared. I recommend a 5 to 10-minute delay if you regularly go back and change the permalink of a post after publishing.
Common Troubleshoots with SharePress
If your having trouble with your configuration there is an option to reset everything and run through the setup process again.
SharePress adds a box to the top of your post editor sidebar. I find it a bit annoying that this is placed above the publish box and not below though this can be fixed in a second by simply dragging and dropping the box into the position you want (a great feature of WordPress that is underused).
The box will have initially be loaded with the settings you configured in the main options page though these can be changed. It’s possible to create a unique message for your update if you don’t use your post title. You’ll notice that if you choose to use your post title the message will be updated as you change the title of the post itself.
In the advanced options section you can change the image that is used for Facebook and choose which Facebook page or profile is updated. 99% of the time you probably won’t change any settings if you have set everything up the way you want it.
The plugin also adds a SharePress column to your post index. The status of the message for that post is denoted i.e. posted, scheduled etc.
One of my favourite things about the plugin is that it lets you go back into a post and reschedule it to be shared on Twitter and Facebook again. This allows you to schedule tweets and Facebook messages in peak times to promote your best posts.
There is also a handy filter in the post index that lets you filter results by posts that have been published already and those that have not.
Once your post has been published, your Facebook fan page will be updated with your article link and message. As you can see, my first post didn’t post correctly due to the clash with the comment import plugin. The description wasn’t posted and the default thumbnail image was used.
When this article published on Facebook the next morning everything updated on Facebook ok (as the other plugin was no longer causing problems).
I noticed shortly after the update that Livefyre has updated the comment area with the comment that was left on Facebook 🙂
I’ve only been using SharePress for a day however I have been really impressed with it so far. It’s easy to use and posts updates to your Twitter and Facebook accounts whenever you want it to.
The free version of SharePress allows you to update Twitter and your personal profile page though if you are using the plugin to update a fan page you will have to update to the premium version. That will set you back $24 though in my opinion it’s worth every penny due to the additional functionality and the priority email support it grants.
If you have any questions about the plugin please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them 🙂
SharePress: Download SharePress | SharePress Premium