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Facebook Friendly with Simple Social

Facebook seems to be where all the cool kids are these days. (And just about everyone else, too.) We've been working on some ways to help our groups take full advantage of this popular online community with a tool we call Simple Social.

Facebook seems to be where all the cool kids are these days. (And just about everyone else, too.) We've been working on some ways to help nonprofits take full advantage of this popular online community with a tool we call Simple Social.

We started by making it really easy to stick a Facebook "Fan Box" on your website. A Fan Box is designed to entice people who are visiting a website to become a fan of that organization on Facebook. When a group posts to their Facebook fan page, it automatically appears in the Fan Box on their website. The Fan Box also features images of the group’s current fans. Facebook did most of the work already, but we streamlined the process of adding it to a Plone site, so you don't have to get your hands dirty with Javascript and HTML. Neat!

That was useful and all, but instead of pushing people from your website to Facebook, wouldn't it be more compelling to do the opposite? After all, Facebook is something of a black hole when it comes to learning more about the people who are interested in what you do.

So, with the tools Facebook provides, we worked on a new tack: make it easy for people taking action on your site to publicize that to their Facebook pages, encouraging their friends to do the same. What better advertising than word of mouth from a trusted source?

Most of the time, this is used while thanking someone for taking action -- writing a letter to a decision maker, say. ("I just asked my representative to say NO to BPA in baby bottles. You should too!") But with our friends at Washington Trails Association, we customized it for a slightly different use. WTA's site allows hikers to post trip reports -- it's enormously popular, with roughly 27,724 trip reports posted to date. Now, after someone submits a trip report on wta.org, they're asked if they want to share it on Facebook.

If they're already logged in to Facebook, it's a single button click; if not, they can login without leaving the page. They can add a brief personal note, and that, along with a picture from their trip report (if they posted one), and a link to the whole thing is added to their FB news stream. Who doesn't want to tell their friends about their recent hike? (Especially if it's on a beautiful, unseasonably warm Saturday in March?)

If you want to kick back and watch this all in action, we've put together a video showing all the different parts of Simple Social.

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