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Technical questions on integrating Wordpress, Facebook, & Twitter
Old 10-27-2010, 05:47 PM   #1
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Technical questions on integrating Wordpress, Facebook, & Twitter

I've been working with these websites for a couple months now. However I can't tell if I've overlooked some features or if they're just not working the way I think they should.

Links to the various sites are in E-R.org's "Links | Publications" section and in my profile.

I'm using Wordpress' "Twenty Ten" theme with several widgets. I'd consider using another theme if I could figure out how to sort the catalog by features I might find useful. Right now they all seem to be just a collection of shiny pictures with no easy way to find, let alone explore, some function that I don't yet know I need. Is there an easier way to pick through the themes? More to the point for you experienced bloggers, is there a specific theme that I'd want to take a look at?

I've made the simple choice of having Wordpress.com host the website URL and the book's blog. Wordpress.com has certainly taken the administrative hassles out of blogging-- at the cost of AdSense revenue, most third-party plug-ins, and perhaps some Google tools. If I wanted to start collecting AdSense money for charitable donations or just experiment with more third-party plugins, then I'd need to go my own way with a Wordpress.org download and a different website host. I'm not sure it's worth the effort. Moving a blog for that reason isn't too painful when it's only a couple months old, but the longer I ignore this question the more painful it'll get. Have any of you bloggers found any reason to leave Wordpress.com? Have any of you elected to break from Wordpress.com and go your own way with just the Wordpress.org software? Any hassles or surprises I should watch out for?

I've registered the blog with Google but there don't seem to be any other Webmaster Tools available (other than those provided by Wordpress.com). However "The Military Guide" has made its way into the top 10 results for that phrase, so whatever SEO is taking place seems to be working. Thanks, Facebook, and all those of you who've been clicking the "Like" buttons.

Any other SEO practices I should adopt with the blog, other than emphasizing keywords like "military retirement" and making the anchor text match the link?

I really really like Wordpress' ability to schedule the release of upcoming posts (for example, 5 AM HST on Mon/Wed/Thu.) I find that I prefer to write several posts in one session, when the muse strikes, instead of 3x/week. Next steps on the blog are to build the blog roll and a long list of "recommended reading" links. I'm working from the reading list in the FAQ Archives for this one, but feel free to suggest your other favorite blogs.

My biggest Facebook question is how to run the book's "consumer product" fan page. When I set up Wordpress to put new posts on my Facebook page, the updates go to my personal Facebook wall (and my newsfeed) instead of to the book's fan page. I guess that's where they should go since that's what my Facebook friends are reading. However I haven't figured out how to also send these updates to the book's fan page, and it seems that I can only update the fan page manually. Frankly the only function the book's fan page seems to offer is to link to the blog. There must be more things to do with that.

So is there a way to automatically update the Facebook fan page? Maybe some third-party plug-in? Or am I condemned to manually update this fan page for as long as it exists? Anything else I could be doing with it that I'm not already doing with the blog?

Twitter is almost an afterthought: everybody else does it and Wordpress can automatically generate a tweet with a blog post, so I might as well use it. I've learned about hashtags (thanks, BMJ!) but it's difficult to search through all the hashtags to find military-related ones. For example I can't search for "#military*" hashtags with wildcards, and I'd never have known to look at hashtags like "#SOT" if I hadn't stumbled across them. So far I'm including #military, #sot, #militarymon, #MilitaryLife, #vets, #honorvets, #militaryretirement, and #earlyretirement as the 140-character limit allows. Otherwise there doesn't seem to be much to do with Twitter besides letting it grow on its own. Any more ideas for Twitter hashtags?

Finally, the book blurb at E-R.org's "Links | Publications" page promises to include an image of the blog provided by Thumbshots.com. I've had that link up for nearly two weeks and Thumbshots.com still claims "Image Coming Soon!" Has anyone else worked with Thumbshots.com? Any idea when it's going to update?
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Old 11-07-2010, 01:08 AM   #2
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(Update.)

Well, this thread sank without a trace. No worries, though, I've gone through more help files & forums to be tutored on how repressed bloggers can spout flawlessly through Wordpress, Facebook, Twitter, & Thumbshots.

Wordpress' themes don't easily disclose their features. The Wordpress Dashboard's "Appearance" link will show a screen of themes, but it's just random selections out of at least 100 of them. However the upper right corner of the screen has a search box, and right next to the search box is a "Feature Filters" link which allows a more targeted search. Wordpress' "Twenty Ten" theme seems good enough... for at least the next couple months. No reader complaints so far, but please let me know what could be better.

It seems the most dangerous issue with Wordpress.org is ensuring that your host is either doing the backups for you or that you're religiously executing your own backups. (Perhaps both.) Other than that the only major hassles appear to be installing the .org software, keeping it updated, downloading/installing/tweaking third-party plugins, and then transferring over the blog from .com. The "benefits" to all of this hassle are complete control, many third-party features not offered by Wordpress.com, and being able to run advertising and donations and other financial transactions... which become almost essential to help pay your hosting fees. I'm going to pass on Wordpress.org for now and stay with Wordpress.com's benevolent (almost free) dictatorship.

SEO seems to be working. Today (Saturday 6 Nov) the blog had triple the hits of any other previous day. Thank you! And to whoever's Googling the phrase "What's the only way you can get early retirement from the Army", you have our sympathy. Please register here and give us the details...

Best of all I finally found the method to have Wordpress blog updates go to the Facebook page for "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" instead of onto my personal FB wall. It's not done from Wordpress, although that can be configured to send updates to FB & Twitter. It's done from Facebook by directly installing/linking to the Twitter application. Facebook can set up tweets to go to a consumer product page as well as a profile page. Now when Wordpress publishes my post to the blog, it sends a tweet (through Twitter) that lands on the Facebook product page and on my Facebook news feed... but not on my Facebook personal page. Clear & simple, hunh? Here's the reference provided by Wordpress blogger Airodyssey: Facebook like sent to a Facebook page instead of profile « WordPress.com Forums

Thumbshots.com offered the following caveat: "Activate Thumbshots by placing this attribution on all pages that use Thumbshots. The attribution is a simple discreet text link and can be placed at the footer of your page. If attribution is missing, the Thumbshots may stop working. Once suspended, it may take over 30 days before our bots revisit your site." When I first submitted the Links | Publications on this board, it didn't render properly and some tech admin hammering troubleshooting was required. The Thumbshots bot is probably going to need another couple of weeks to get around to updating itself. But while there may not be a Thumbshots, the text is rendering properly and the other links are all working.

I may not have much of a life, but at least I can stop with the tweaking and get back to the writing. You hard-core bloggers can e-mail or PM me with questions or suggestions.
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Old 11-07-2010, 04:26 AM   #3
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OMG -now I know what you do all day! Ughhh - I have a website, used to have a blog with blogspot, but just quit updating it. I don't have a FaceBook page and don't Tweet either. Guess I'm just an old curmudgeon. Email works great for me.

Was this required for the book?
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Old 11-07-2010, 08:25 AM   #4
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I'm empathetic to your cause. I understand a great deal of this, but not to the depth that you do. I have shared reseller account (CPANEL - Linux), and can share a couple of things. As you pointed out, the backup thing is a challenge. The hosts seem to have a different concept of backup, and you can't rely on it. So, if you leave the protection of wordpress.org, it is a new challenge. There are services that will backup the CPANEL account, including the databases. You can also pull a backup on regular basis. It is no fun at all. If you set up CRON to do clever things for you, then you have to maintain that. In effect, you take one more step towards being a JR. ADMIN.

My associate has done clever things with Wordpress. The themes don't necessarily give you new functions. It is eye candy. However, there are addins to do that, and I caution that. One addin can break another.

You identify the advantage, that you have complete control. However, that is not necessarily a good thing. Your host may update mysql or patch vulnerabilities, and then you must update WP to make it work. Then your addin breaks, and so on.

However, since you are so technically adept, and have unlimited time, you may want to try that in parallel. It will give you fodder for a future book!
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Old 11-07-2010, 10:49 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by deserat View Post
Was this required for the book?
Yup. Publishers have largely pushed the marketing onto authors (nothing wrong with that), and this is just one more aspect of that division of labor.

I don't actually Facebook or tweet either. Wordpress handles that as part of the posting process. I just set up the format, load everything into the scheduling hopper, and the magic automatically happens with FB & Twitter a couple minutes after the blog's next post goes up on Wordpress. That's why I couldn't figure out how to configure the Facebook posting issue, too-- turns out the solution is done from Facebook but I was totally focused on tweaking Wordpress.

I didn't do this on my own-- I had lots of help from BMJ, CFB, Martha, and REW. I've done lots of reading and Wiley's "online marketing" guidelines were particularly helpful (although a bit outdated now). I thought I'd be starting with a website, then adding a blog and a Facebook page, until I learned that the marketing functions of a website have been largely supplanted by blogs & Facebook. It's been pointed out to me that a lot of businesses just work through their Facebook pages, where it's much easier to share updates and multimedia than it would be on their own website. No need to manage a bunch of services that Facebook and Wordpress are already providing for "free". Don't even really need a webmaster and the hosting fees are a lot cheaper. The biggest drawback to Wordpress/Facebook is the restriction on running your own advertising, and there are other ways to work around that.

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Originally Posted by target2019 View Post
However, since you are so technically adept, and have unlimited time, you may want to try that in parallel. It will give you fodder for a future book!
I'm glad you pointed that out about the themes. Even with the feature filter there really doesn't seem to be much to distinguish them except for the number of columns... and the pretty colors.

My "unlimited time" aspect is more useful in researching all the help files & forums, and then asking the right questions in enough places. My "technically adept" days were in the 1980s, and about all I learned from them was that I no longer cared to be so technically adept. I don't mind tweaking an HTML editor but there's no way I'm going to grapple with CSS. There are enough people doing that for free with their own plugins and themes, and Wordpress seems to regularly skim off the cream for use on their Wordpress.com.

As you say, the control aspect is an illusion that trades one set of problems for another. If I was a starving writer trying to pay my electric bill then I'd be doing that. But for a non-profit project like this, I think I'm already working hard enough without cutting into my surfing.

As has also been pointed out to me, the best way to handle the online advertising would be partnering with a host who already has a large project of their own, letting them handle the backups and updates and compatibility issues along with their project, and then splitting the advertising revenue. I suspect that's only beneficial to both parties if the book sells 5000-10,000 copies a year, which would be a pleasant surprise.

I'd rather write. The best thing about blogging has been the ability to say what I want without trolling or moderation concerns.

I don't know what I want to write next, but I'm not sure that it's going to be a book. Maybe in a couple years I'll feel differently about that, or maybe I'll just write a bunch of sea stories an autobiography for our family archives.

Next is messing with my LinkedIn profile and e-mail signature. It's kinda hard to figure out where to draw the etiquette line between socializing and marketing...
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:02 AM   #6
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Nords, time to go surfing!!
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Old 11-07-2010, 07:20 PM   #7
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Nords, time to go surfing!!
I hear ya. Weekends I tend to stay hunkered down at home avoiding the traffic (both onshore and afloat). But tomorrow morning has definite dawn patrol possibilities at Pua'ena or Kammies. Even the south shore may come back a little bit by midweek.

That's another great feature of Wordpress-- on weekends I load up the blog with posts scheduled for Mon/Wed/Thu mornings, and it takes care of the rest. While you're reading & commenting, I'm surfing. Reader comments may not get through the moderation queue until after my nap...
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