CookieMonster-plus update (1.3.6) — CF7 integration

Just a quick announcement that I updated the CookieMonster-plus plugin (since I realized I hadn’t announced the last minor update).

The new features include a config option for setting the cookie duration (default is 30 days) and integration with Contact Form 7 to allow pre-filling text and email fields based on cookied values. I’m considering the same feature for hidden fields, but I ran out of steam just getting the visible fields to work properly.

In case you missed the significance, you can use CM+ to pre-fill people’s name and email address in contact forms so you can pass them from, say, a squeeze page to a survey page. CF7 has lots of flexibility in configuring forms and can be easily setup for surveys. When combined with the Contact Form 7 to Database Extension you can get something akin to the Ask Database survey functionality but self contained within WordPress.

CM+ 1.3.6 added CF7 shortcodes text+, text*+, email+, and email*+ to pull values from cookies or other parameter string values. They behave just like the non-plus versions, they just check the cookies and parameter string for default values to pre-fill the form.

As always, feel compelled to download CookieMonster-plus and sign up for my plugin announcement list below.

Facebook Fan Page “Forced Like” Ethics

I recently dove into a project to set up Facebook Tab Manager, a cool plugin from David Carr that feeds a Facebook fan page it’s content from your WordPress install. There are a couple cool features of the plugin for turning off certain WP filters that makes it especially nice. Otherwise, you can create your fan page content just like you create your blog content — same interface, editor, and plugins.

The challenge I set up for myself was to get the much touted “forced like” feature integrated for my friends and clients. I let a few people know that I was looking for testers and my friend @ShelHorowitz sent a DM on twitter mentioning that he boycotts any pages that use “forced like.” This got me thinking.

So here was my question: is having more content available to those who “like” your fan page on Facebook any different than sending exclusive content to those who subscribed via an email capture page on a web site?

For those that don’t know, the idea of a “forced like” is that in order to see the content on a Facebook fan page you would have to click the “like” button and become their “fan” first. I’ve seen people selling poorly thought out schemes for collecting a bazillion fans overnight that rely on the curiosity factor around this hidden content as the only reason to become a fan.

I suspected that the reason Shel found that objectionable is that the reason it is named forced like — it is typically done with such hype and strong language that it is assumed you won’t be able to see anything unless you are a fan. In the extreme cases, where the only content on the fan page is the single piece of “hidden” content, it is probably true that you’d have to “like” it before seeing anything. The funny thing is, if that’s all there is to see, it’s probably not worth the time/energy/attention to like it.

There are many legitimate uses for splitting publicly viewable content from fan/like/subscriber-only content. Rewarding those who “join the tribe” is a great thing, you just need to make sure you’re giving other reasons to join besides just the “bribe.”

Personally, I intend to use this splitting of content in much the same way that Seth Godin suggests we use cookies — giving those who have not opted-in and “liked” the fan page useful information that A) they may need/want before deciding to “like” the page and B) they probably won’t need after they have opted-in because they’ll be a part of the tribe. Then, and only then, I would consider a bribe if deemed necessary.

You shouldn’t need the landing tab to include things like contact info because that is always visible on the “Info” tab, and with congruent activity the wall posts should give people a good idea of what to expect in their news feeds as fans. Depending on the level of tech-savvy of your audience, you may need that landing tab to include explicit instructions for a visitor to browse your other tabs and/or click “Like” to receive future updates and describing how they’ll get those updates.

It turns out that not being able to see much content was only a minor part of Shel’s objection, which he elaborated to me later in the day. The main issue around liking pages, forced or not, is that of implied endorsement in a public arena and the reputation management that goes along with that Like/endorsement being spread across your friends’ news feeds.

This adds a new twist on the old aphorism:
Now you need people to know and trust you enough to “Like” you!

With all that in mind, if you’d like to be notified when I have my updated version of that plugin ready for a wider audience, go ahead and enter your name and email in the form below and opt-in.

(See, that wasn’t so hard to do — a little relationship building, sharing some good info, and then suggesting the next action for those who are interested. Go do the same thing on your Facebook fan pages and you’ll be just fine.)

Updated CookieMonster-plus to 1.3.4

Just a quick note to let you know that CookieMonster-plus has been updated to allow use on all pages (even ones using a template that doesn’t include a call to get_header!) and I found and squashed the pesky foreach() bug I couldn’t seem to replicate until today.

Grab the CookieMonster-plus plugin directly or check out the main CookieMonster-plus post for more details.

BTW, the reason I found these bugs is because I was putting up a new freebie for a giveaway event. I’m also working on a report that explains more of what CM+ can do. If you’ve got questions, comments, or suggestions to share let me know!

CookieMonster-plus

This started as a quick update to the CookieMonster WordPress plugin to allow default values.
It has morphed into a nearly complete re-write to add more functionality than the original.

CookieMonster-plus takes incoming parameters like http://mercs.net/cookiemonster-plus/?example=NotDefault and puts the values in a cookie so that WordPress can then replace [example] with the value passed (and cookied) within any page or post they may visit.
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The Many Heads of Social Media

Social media is like the mythical creature Medusa. Besides the fact that if you go in unprepared you’re likely to get stoned, social media has many slithery heads.

I’m beginning a new experiment. In the past, I was following the usual advice to pick one or two platforms and concentrate on those. I fell into that mode automatically because of my current time constraints.

Watch what happens when we take the higher intent of that platitude and balance it out with the higher intent of social media in general. The reason to pick a few is so that it is more convenient for us to stay on top of the communications and to interact fully on each platform. The reason social media is so popular is that it is about what is most convenient for each user as far as interacting with their circles of influence.

Here’s my new take: be regularly active on a few platforms, facebook and twitter in my case, and maintain a presence on as many other platforms as can be easily automated. I plan to make it clear on the other platforms that I’m checking in sporadically, or at least not daily, and will continue the conversation then. This allows people who do not happen to choose facebook or twitter as their primary platform to receive information from me in a timely manner on their preferred platform(s) while still maintaining my own time considerations by not having to keep up with dozens of platforms multiple times a day.

I’d been formulating this plan for a while but a wordpress plugin came across my radar today that helps to automate this plan to a great degree. It really caught my eye because the plugin is currently 80% off and the proceeds are going to fund asthma research. (I’m a sucker for a good deal and a bigger sucker for a charity!)

Go check out the WP-Syndicator plugin and see if it fits with your own social media plans.