Monday, March 12, 2012

Syndicate & Validate Me, Baby
Adding Networked Blogs to your FaceBook Fan Page

So you've got a FaceBook fan page - but what about content?  How on earth are you supposed to add content to your FaceBook Fan Page, plus Follow and comment on all the blogs you like, and and and. *overwhelmed and whimpering*

Well.  There's an app for that - it's called Networked Blogs.

You may have seen it on some blogs (like this one) and wondered, why are there TWO Follow boxes stacked up right on top of each other?

I will tell you.

And show you, too, with lots of pictures.  Don't be afraid.  I am not a techie-type person.  So if I can do it, anybody can do it.

Sometimes someone is on WordPress - and we're not - or a self-hosted site, and they don't have all the cool buttons showing us how to Follow them.  Yet, we want to.  Or what if we're on FaceBook a lot, and want to share valuable content with people who follow our Fan Page, without adding each link manually? Networked Blogs is a mighty handy tool, but a little tricky to learn how to use.

1. Log in to FaceBook.  Go to the Networked Blogs page, and click the blue button near the top right corner that says "Go to App".  Then select Add to my Page's Favorites. (red arrow, below)

2. Go to a great blog site you know you want to Follow, that already uses Networked Blogs.  Like Writer Unboxed, shown below.  (Or Writing in Flow, hint hint.)

Click the blue button that says, Follow this blog.

There's a little more you have to do, to get that great content on your page, and we'll get to that in a minute - but what if the blog you want to Follow and share on FaceBook doesn't have a Networked Blogs box?

You can add it to Networked Blogs anyway.  (No, it's not stealing.  It's sharing.  Unless a blog owner has specifically decided to keep his or her blog private, they LIKE being shared.  It's why we all put those Tweet and Email and SHARE buttons on our blogs.)

So, I wanted to steal share content from a fabulous blog about children's books, Carry Us Off Books, with a new Fan Page I am helping administer for a non-profit organization all about reading to young children.  Perfect fit, right?  Only Carry Us Off Books doesn't seem to be registered for Networked Blogs, what to do?

1.  Go to the blog (below).

2.  While the blog page is open, and while in another tab you are signed in to FaceBook (as you, not as your fan page) go to Networked Blogs.  (on the bottom left side of your FB page, under Friends and before pages, there's your Apps.  Click the Networked Blogs button & it will take you to a page that lists all the blogs you Follow through Networked Blogs.  Towards the top right, there's a Search Blogs Option.  Do a copy and paste to insert the url of the blog you want to add.  Maybe it's already registered, and your blogger simply didn't put a Networked Blogs box up on his/her site.  (Always do a copy and paste, because sometimes there is something in there - like the ".html" in CUOB's url, that does make a difference when you leave it out.)

Not registered?  There's a button near the top that says "Register a Blog."  Click it.

Paste the url of the blog you want to Follow into the Blog Link box (see below).

After you clicked Next, it brings you to this screen (below).  It will automatically have the blog link and the feed link for you.  Fill out the rest as best you can.

(Blog owners, if you are freaking out right now, because someone could put totally wrong information in there - YOU, as blog owner, can always update and change it when you claim the blog.)

After you click Next, you'll be asked whether you are the owner of the blog or not.  Be nice and don't lie - they have ways of verifying the REAL owner.  (Blog owners, when you join Networked Blogs and do a search for your URL, you will be able to claim your blog, and they will verify it really is your site, before handing you the keys to the kingdom.)

After the blog is added, look at the choice on the left - choose Syndication.  (if you are not seeing this page, click the little cog to the right of your name, and go to My Profile.  It will bring up, on the left, a list of all the Blogs you write, and all the ones you are Following.

Pick the blog you want to publish - in this case, Carry Us Off Books.  Click the button Add FaceBook Target.  Right now, I am Admin for three fan pages ( I know, I know), and I could add it to all of them, but this blog is most suitable for Words on Wheels.  Don't add a blog to your personal Profile and a Fan Page Target, or you'll see both posts in your personal newsfeed (assuming you have Fanned your own page).

However, if the blog is syndicating is your own, you may want to Target both your FaceBook fan page, and your Twitter feed.  (This saves me time.)

After you have clicked Add, and Close, you can do a test to make sure the content will publish to the page (see below).

It "pulls" posts based on a magic algorithm that I have not yet figured out, but the thing is, it does automatically pull the posts to the Fan Page you designate.  Which in my case serves the dual purpose of letting me easily follow the blogs I love, and gives good content to my FaceBook Fan Page, automatically.  (Being a busy writer, anything I can post automatically makes my characters smile, because then I can spend more time with them.)

Even though the process of getting it set up the very first time is a little tricky, once you've done it, it's easy-peasy to Follow and adding blogs this way.  Check the link for the official FAQ's for Networked Blogs.

Like a lot of programs, it's free - with upscale versions you can subscribe to.

One big caveat - be careful who you follow.  While I was writing this post, I saw Mashable and another site, thought they'd be fun to add to my personal FaceBook news feed, so I did.  They then began posting ALL the links within the last 2-3 days.  (Somebody told me it was 89 of them.) So I had to UNFollow the sites, then I had to separately go in and remove the "Syndicate to this Target" instructions.  So if the site you choose to syndicate normally posts 15-20 times a day, that's what you'll get, too.

Even after that little mishap, I still think it's a useful (if dangerous) tool.

Many thanks to Claudine at the wonderful blog Carry Us Off Books for giving her permission to use her as an example.  (Now go follow that blog!  And please consider fanning Words on Wheels.)

If you already use Networked Blogs, leave a comment and let me know what you think.  If you add it, following this post, please leave a comment and let everyone know how easy - or hard - it was.  (And if you found this post helpful, please DO share.)
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