I decided to write this post as I was so impressed by a WordPress plugin I used on a project lately. Not only was the plugin great, but the support I received was out of this world! The least I could do was write a review to let other people know about the plugin and the company behind it. This plugin is “The Custom Facebook Feed” by Smash Balloon.
I was recently working on a project where I needed to display a company’s Facebook posts on their WordPress site. The client wanted to increase their Facebook page likes and drive some of their significant website traffic to their Facebook page. Having a user like your Facebook page is arguably even more desirable than having them sign up for your email newsletter, as it not only provides a method for reaching out to your audience but also to interact with them.
I considered building a solution myself, as the client had a quite specific list of requirements. They needed to display three different feeds of posts – one of all posts, one of only photos, and one of only events. They needed the Facebook posts to be designed to blend into their site, they wanted to display full-sized photos, they needed to display events containing only a specific hashtag, and a few other random things. I decided that building something from scratch would have taken a lot of time and a bigger budget than the client had, so I set out on a Googling session to find a WordPress plugin which could do this for me.
I tried about 5 or 6 other WordPress Facebook plugins before finally discovering the free version of the Custom Facebook Feed. The other plugins either looked like garbage, were confusing to set up and configure, had very limited customization settings, were poorly coded (increasing the chance of future conflicts) or weren’t well supported (the support forums and reviews on wordpress.org are often very revealing). The Custom Facebook Feed plugin is none of these. I can honestly say that it’s one of the best plugins I’ve ever used, and the customer support experience was the best I’ve ever experienced from a WordPress plugin. I started out by installing the free version of the plugin on WordPress.org…
Setting up the plugin
The plugin was very simple to set up. Unlike most others which require you to register as a Facebook developer and create an App on Facebook, the Custom Facebook Feed just requires the following:
- Enter the ID of the Facebook page or group you want to display posts from.
- Copy and paste the [custom-facebook-feed] shortcode into the widget or page where you want it to show up.
That’s it. Your latest Facebook posts are then displayed on your site!
Customizing the plugin
One of the best things about the plugin is that right out of the box it looks great. It inherits the styles from your WordPress theme and so the Facebook posts blend into your site without any customization at all. If you want to go deeper and customize the feed then the there are tons of options built into the plugin to allow you to do this, from changing the number of posts, colors, sizes, what shows up in each post, the date format, custom text, and a ton more.
After installing the free version I had a few questions about customizing the plugin. With free plugins it’s really hit or miss whether you’ll actually get a response from the plugin developer, and if you do then it usually takes a good few days. This is understandable, as the author doesn’t get paid to respond to support requests and have to give up their own free time in order to support a plugin. With this in mind, I put in a support request for the plugin. Within an hour I had a response from Smash Balloon, answering my questions thoroughly and offering to help if I needed further assistance. I was impressed! I asked some more questions and they responded within a few minutes this time with a custom code snippet to customize the plugin specifically to my needs. I couldn’t believe how quick and helpful they were, they obviously knew their plugin, WordPress and the Facebook API very well.
A few days later I emailed them via their support page with a question about displaying links to Facebook profiles/pages when using the @ symbol in a Facebook post. I got another very quick and friendly reply saying how the plugin didn’t currently add links for these @ symbols tags but that it was a great idea and they’d add it into the next update. Great! I figured that would be in a few weeks time. The next morning I saw an update available for the plugin with the post tags update included!
Upgrading to the Pro version
Needless to say, it didn’t take much persuasion for me to upgrade to the pro version of the plugin. It comes with a lot more features and customization options than the free version and at $39 is very reasonably priced, especially considering it would take me a good few days of my time to code something so solid from scratch. Plus, by using Smash Balloon’s plugin I know I have quick and knowledgeable technical support whenever I might need it, and automatic WordPress updates for a year, which is especially awesome as both Facebook and WordPress like to update and change things on a regular basis. (I believe there’s also a non-WordPress version of the plugin available for you folks not developing on WordPress, although I haven’t tried it).
I couldn’t speak more highly of both the Custom Facebook Feed plugin and the guys at Smash Balloon who created and support it. My client is happy, so I’m happy! If you haven’t checked it out yet then try out the free version on WordPress.org, it’s definitely the best Facebook plugin I’ve ever used.