Do you have a WordPress Page dedicated to your blog? Many websites have embraced Facebook as a new location for sharing updates with their readers, taking advantage of plugins to send details of their latest posts to the popular social network.
On these pages, followers can leave their thoughts on your various comments and updates, enabling you to build your audience and potentially reach many more readers than you would purely through your website.
In order to do this, of course, you need a really good plugin that will reliably update your Facebook page with your latest posts. Once this has been done, you can sit back and watch the number of likes and shares increase.
Unfortunately, as ideal as this might sound, it’s a bit of a tricky thing to pull off with WordPress, requiring the use of an old plugin.
Facebook Page Comments
You probably know already that Facebook comments can be incorporated into WordPress as a comments solution. This isn’t what I’m talking about.
Rather, I’m interested in finding a way to bring the comments under a post on my Facebook Page into my WordPress blog. After all, if a user quits Facebook, the comment is lost. Should Facebook have an outage, the comment is lost. Moreover, the comment might be extremely insightful, something that readers of the blog should see. With it existing only on a Facebook page, the comment will not be exposed to the readers that really need to see it!
Surely there should be a way to import comments from a Facebook fan page into WordPress?
Facebook Comments Importer
My initial search revealed the Facebook Comments Importer plugin, a tool designed to do exactly what I hoped for – it imports comments from a Facebook page to a blog.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated since 2011, and is compatible only up to WordPress version 3.2.1 – hardly ideal.
As such I opted to find another solution. Despite a lot of searching in the WordPress plugins repository, sadly nothing else came up as being suitable. I also checked IFTTT.com for a recipe that might enable such functionality – no go, sadly.
Using my test site I decided to give the Facebook Comments Importer plugin a try…
Interesting Results from an Old Plugin
With my test site I was able to check whether the plugin worked or not. Sadly, the test database hasn’t been updated recently, which means that the plugin did its best but was unable to find a link between the WordPress page and any of the posts on my blog.
Crucially, however, the plugin didn’t break the blog, and so I decided that following a backup of my data it would be worth further investigation on the live site.
Initial results were impressive – the plugin did exactly what it was supposed to do. Unfortunately, it also did a tiny bit more, something that didn’t occur on the test site presumably because data wasn’t imported.
For some reason, Facebook Comments Importer affected the layout of my blog, disrupting some adverts. This wasn’t ideal, and difficult to easily resolve. Without support from an active developer, there was no chance of finding a solution.
Conclusion: Don’t Rule Out Old Plugins, but Don’t Rely On Them Either
It’s a fact of life in WordPress: old plugins exist, and on the whole you should avoid them unless you’re able to safely test them first.
Recently you might have seen a notification banner in your WordPress admin screen informing you that one of the plugins you’re using has been taken over and revived as part of the PluginChief Plugin Recycle program. This is really the only time you should use old plugins – when they are being revived and updated to work with current versions of WordPress.
In the case of the Facebook Comments Importer plugin, it’s on borrowed time. Either Facebook will revise its API or WordPress will change in such a way that some of the code it uses is deprecated, making it useless.
Hopefully, a better solution will be along soon…