After 2 days going through numerous WordPress plugins that provide Facebook commenting functionality on the blog, I have shortlisted this 4. Almost 60% of the commenting plugins in the WordPress directory aren’t reliable or doesn’t work anymore, so I’ll do another review in 2013. The plugins discussed below are free.
Before you start using any of them, it’s recommended that you do a complete backup first.
1. Add Link to Facebook
This is one of the most popular Facebook WordPress plugins with over 700K downloads. What makes this plugin stands out is that it intergrates all the comments on the blog and Facebook. In the Settings panel, you have the options to:
- post WordPress comments back to Facebook (vice versa)
- turning off pingbacks/trackbacks
- intergrate likes from Facabook
- show likers below the post text
Having comments sync’d 2 ways is a great way to maximize the engagement you can have with your readers on the blog and Facebook. It saves the trouble of logging each individually just to reply to a comment by your visitor.
Other providing Facebook commenting functionality and intergration, the plugin automatically adds your published WordPress posts or pages to your Facebook wall, pages or groups. By default, the link title will be the post title and the description will be your excerpt.
The customization provided by the plugin is very comprehensive. You can decide on what image to use for the link picture (on FB), comment trailers, customize the Like button/box, exclude specific post links from being added to your Facebook wall, pages or groups, and more. For advance users hungry for more, you can futher customize by using shortcodes and template tags.
2. Simple Facebook Connect
Simple Facebook Connect is one of the most popular and easiest to setup. Simply enter the Facebook Application ID and Secret, and Fan Page (optional), then tick the FB funtionality you want to be integrated on your blog and it’s ready to rock. Don’t get too worried about the details required as SFC will guide you with instructions and links on how to set it up. The plugin implements OpenGraph tags automatically.
New posts published will be updated on your Facebook Profile, Application or Fan Page. Depending on your settings, this can be set automatically or manually. Comments on Facebook are sync’d back to your blog. Either Facebook avatars or Gravatars can be used. A unique feature that I like is the Facebook Alblum intergration in the Media uploader. Other features includes:
- Like Button and shortcode
- User Status Widget and shortcode
- Live Stream Widget and shortcode
- Fan Box Widget and shortcode
- Fan Count Chicklet and Widget
- Activity Feed Widget
3. SEO Facebook Comment
If you are just looking for Facebook commenting functionality and wants the comments to be SEO friendly, then this plugin is designed for you. Unlike the first 2 plugins shared above, this does not syncs your new blog post to Facebook.
Why good for SEO? If you have been trying out many Facebook comment plugins, you will notice that most of the Facebook commenting system is embedded into your page with the use of an iframe. Because of the iframe, Google can’t read the comments and associate them with your blog post/page.
This plugin overcomes the limitation by adding and loading all the comments on your page through your WordPress blog database. The plugin creates & uses a table in your database to keep track of all the added normal comments & comments from Facebook users. By default, uninstalling this plugin will not remove the database to avoid comment duplication should you re-install in the future. I see this as a plus point, since I don’t want to jeopardize my exisiting blog comments by merging comments on both platforms into a single database.
SEO Facebook Comment runs light using little server resources and it only refreshes and updates Facebook Comments specific to blog posts only when those posts are loaded. Last but not least, majority of your current Comments widgets/plugins can still co-exisit because of different databases.
4. Facebook Comments by Fat Panda
Although this plugin is relatively new and doesn’t seems to provide much extra Facebook features, it deserves 5 stars for the reliable commenting system. The plugin claims that it can maximize SEO, and all your exisiting WordPress comments are retained, and you can display them below the Facebook commenting box.
There’s zero configuration needed – which is the good and bad point. The only thing you need to do is create your Facebook Application (similar to the above plugins). The guide by Fat Panda is very detailed, and I encourage you to take a sneak preview on the Facebook commenting sytem implemented on their blog here.
Should we use them?
There are several plugins that look worthy to be reviewed, unfortunately I can’t get them to work. One of them is Facebook Comments for WordPress which is popular with 350K users, but is now broken because of the error in Application ID. Many of the plugins have been made obsolete because of Facebook updates and developers giving up coding/support for the plugin.
As such, choosing a reliable and constantly updated plugin should be a top factor when deciding which to use. Otherwise it will be a painful reversal or switch when the plugin fails permanently.
Looking at the bright side, with the huge number of Facebook users, it seems a good idea to jump on the wagon to leverage on the commenting system to engage new visitors, retain and expand your readership base.