Monday, August 24, 2009

Do multiple RSS feeds per page make sense in Facebook?

In part one of this post, I recounted three suggestions that I had previously advanced to make the Facebook experience more like the FriendFeed experience. But when I advanced those suggestions, I failed to think about whether or not they may sense.

In part two of this post, I discussed the pros and cons of my first suggestion for Facebook - bump active items to the top of the feed.

Now it's time to look at my second suggestion for Facebook, which is to allow multiple RSS feeds on a Facebook page.

I think that everyone knows that on a FriendFeed page, you can include all sorts of feeds in the stream. My Empoprises FriendFeed page includes four blog feeds (for the four Empoprises blogs); a custom RSS feed of my Twitter mentions; and feeds from Disqus, Facebook, Flickr, Google Reader,, LinkedIn (which doesn't work), Pandora, Twitter, Upcoming, and YouTube.

Even before Facebook acquired FriendFeed, I had decided that my blogs needed a presence on Facebook, primarily because you have 200+ million people on that service and the exposure wouldn't hurt. However, when I read Mark O'Neill's extremely helpful how-to guide for incorporating RSS feeds into Facebook pages, I discovered that there was a limitation on Facebook's capabilities:

Select “Import A Blog” in the Notes Setting section. You can only import from 1 RSS feed at a time. Simply “Stop Importing” if you want to change the RSS feed.

Yes, that's right. You can only import from one RSS feed at a time. This effectively meant that I couldn't create an "Empoprises" fan page, but that I would instead have to create separate pages for each of my Empoprises blogs. As I write this, I haven't even gotten around to creating the Empoprise-NTN fan page yet. The other three Facebook fan pages, in case you're curious, are:

Now in my particular case, it makes sense to have separate fan pages for each of the blogs - they are, after all, blogs targeted for specific vertical markets. But what if you're, for example, WidgetCorp, and you want to create a fan page and include your blog feed, your Twitter feed, and your YouTube channel in it? Technically, Facebook doesn't allow you to do that. Now there are workarounds - I can't find the link, but someone suggested that you feed multiple feeds into an appropriately-tagged Google Reader feed, and then direct THAT feed into Facebook - but that's work.

And you also have to remember that I, in my non-critical way, was trying to recreate the FriendFeed experience in Facebook. So if FriendFeed lets you automatically feed umpteen separate feeds into your page, why doesn't Facebook?

I can't really come up with a good response to that. As far as I can tell, there is no real reason for Facebook to prevent you from adding multiple feeds of outside content. As long as Facebook is letting you add one outside feed, why not allow 10? 50? 1000?

Actually, that would make sense for Facebook. Let's say that Facebook decided to allow multiple feeds per page, and I therefore chose to put all of my FriendFeed feeds into my Facebook page. This makes my Facebook page a possible destination for those who (for whatever bizarre reason) want to see my lifestream - and ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE WILL BE EXPOSED TO FACEBOOK ADS.

Or perhaps I'm still boneheadedly wrong, and there are good reasons for Facebook to restrict users to one RSS feed per page. In the comments below, please tell me what those good reasons are.

And sign your real name...or don't. We'll get to that little issue.
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