Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

Category

Social media services are very popular these days and can be a big help in connecting with your desired audience.  Setting up and managing a social media account is beyond the scope of this article, but below you will find documentation on integrating social media into your websites.

Pulling Social Media into Sites

Facebook

There are various tools available for integrating Facebook into a website.  Some plugins or modules will let you enter the ID number of a page or group and can pull in the posts from that page or group, showing them on a dynamically generated page of your website (quite commonly the front page).  It is also possible for a Facebook page or group administrator to generate a widget (a short blob of HTML and/or JavaScript code) that can be pasted into a website to embed a series of recent posts from that Facebook page or group.

Embedding directly from Facebook using their code is likely to be the most stable method in the long-term, but does require both access to the Facebook page or group (to generate the embed code), and the ability to post pure HTML and JavaScript to the website in question (some Drupal site configurations on campus disallow this by default).

Twitter

Everything mentioned for Facebook in the previous section applies to Twitter with one bonus.  Any Twitter user can generate embed code for any publicly visible Twitter account (not just their own).  So, with Twitter, you don't have to have the password for the Twitter account in question - you just need to have some kind of Twitter account (you could even create a Web Development account just for this purpose) for which you know the login and password.  After logging in, select the user settings icon at the right side of the top control bar, then select Settings and Privacy.  From the left-hand menu on that page, select Widgets.  Create a new widget and follow the prompts.  Once your widget is configured, cut-and-paste the widget code into the appropriate location on your website.

Other Social Media Integrations

Two other social media integrations are possible: pushing posts to social media accounts, and providing "share to" buttons on your site.

Pushing posts to social media requires a module or plugin specific to the content management system you are using.  When configured correctly, you would be able to make a new blog-style post to your website, and it would be automatically copied to the associated social media account.  In theory, you can set up multiple integrations of this type as long as you can find a suitable module or plugin for each social media service with which you want to integrate.

Adding "share to" buttons is a bit easier, and could be done manually on each page.  However, since this takes a lot of time and effort, there are modules and plugins to add these buttons for you.  Just search in the plugin or module repository for your content system on the phrase "Share to XXX" where "XXX" is the name of the social media service you use.

Social Media Caveats

It should go without saying that social media services can update their systems and APIs at any time.  Usually they will give plenty of warning, but ultimately its their network and they can change it as they wish.  When such changes occur, expect to have to update any associated modules or plugins, which may stop working until you do update them.  There's a greater chance that embeds generated from the social media service will be supported indefinitely, but even they may have to eventually be updated if the service decides to completely end support for an older API that they are using.

The other caveat is to remember (and to warn your stakeholders) that pulling from (or pushing to) social media is a matter of dealing with an outside service not controlled by Georgia Tech, so it is subject to downtime by the service provider or network failures anywhere along the way.  Thus, it is to be expected that embeded social media feeds may not show up correctly 100% of the time.