Nearly 17 percent of all Web sites use the WordPress open-source publishing platform. Now, Facebook is tapping into that installed base with a new plug-in for WordPress.
The plug-in requires no coding, is suited for mobile devices, and supports international use. Once installed, it allows content to be cross-posted to WordPress and the Facebook timeline and Pages managed by the same user. The plug-in is designed for self-hosted WordPress sites, as well as for WordPress VIP software -as-a-service clients.
There are also a variety of WordPress widgets made possible by the plug-in, including an Activity Feed that shows readers the Likes, Comments, and other activities by friends on the site. WordPress users can get personalized suggestions for pages on Facebook the reader might enjoy, and there's an option for a Recommendations Bar that suggests pages that the reader might enjoy, based on the actions of that reader's friends on the WordPress site.
Of course, any Facebook integration wouldn't be worth its name if it didn't include a Like button, which, like Subscribe and Send buttons, can be customized. A Comments Box allows readers to make comments on WordPress, which can then be posted back to Facebook, and it includes tools for moderating and search engine optimization support.
The Comments Box uses what Facebook calls "social signals" to bring up the highest quality comments for each user. Comments show the most relevant remarks from friends and others who post, as well as the most liked or active discussion threads.
Sites that use WordPress include The New York Times and People Magazine, with more than 600 million unique visitors reading WordPress-based sites each month. In addition, nearly half the top 100 blogs on the Net use the publishing platform.
By releasing this integration with the world's most popular publishing platform, Facebook extends its reach once again. We asked Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis, if he expected this collaboration .
He expressed surprise "that WordPress hasn't created a plug-in like this before." While there was some limited Facebook functionality previously in WordPress, this plug-in increases the capabilities and eliminates the need for publishers to add code. With the plug-in, publishers can choose which options to implement.
Shimmin added that the move makes Facebook "look even more like Google, in that it is increasingly acting more like a growing infrastructure , instead of simply a destination site." Some observers are beginning to reference Facebook as a kind of Internet Passport site, through which recommendations, content, and other communications flow.
WordPress has been criticized for not having more social networking functions, which the decade-old platform started implementing only last year. One blogging -- and now social publishing -- competitor for WordPress is Tumblr, a quick-start, easy-to-use, popular blogging platform which integrated with Facebook's Open Graph in April.