BlogFuse launched yesterday with an appropriately Web 2.0 PR blitz, including giveaways on TechCrunch. BlogFuse is a tool that lets you create a Facebook application from an existing blog. Compatible with any blog that has an RSS feed, it's targeted at the "pro" blogger looking to generate more viral traffic.
Setting it up is easy. You simply sign up for a $5/month account, run a small wizard (runs only in Firefox) which walks you through creating a Facebook developer account, and the basics of creating your application, and … bob's your uncle, you've got a Facebook application — no muss, no fuss and most of all… no icky coding!
So I did it, and here's the result.
But Facebook already reads RSS feeds, right? So, what's the point? Well, for the aforementioned "pro" blogger, Facebook's approach has some downsides. It imports the content inside the Facebook walled garden, for starters, which (if you read their TOS carefully) makes it their content and not yours. All the advertising you rely on to monetize your blog gets stripped out. And… suddenly you have two comment streams to manage — one on the blog, and one on Facebook.
BlogFuse, in comparison, redirects the reader to the original blog, which obviates all those problems.
Still, there's a lot left for the BlogFuse team to do before this becomes really easy and really valuable for the Blogger who doesn't know his or her way around Facebook development. For example:
- There's no way to monetize the BlogFuse generated application canvas. It would be nice to put some advertising into them.
- Despite the wizard, you still have to manually edit the about page, icons, application directory entry, sidenav URL and other application settings within Facebook. It's not as fuss-free as the BlogFuse team makes out.
- Although BlogFuse claims that the application can be embedded in a fan page, I was unable to do so.
- The share button behaviour is pretty clunky. Sometimes it shares the application, and sometimes it shares individual items.
BlogFuse is promising, but I suspect that the majority of Facebook users will want an RSS reader for multiple feeds rather than an application dedicated to one feed. Ultimately, that will limit its appeal to the few pro bloggers that are also interested in building fan pages for themselves on Facebook. It's unlikely, in my opinion, that you will see viral propagation of BlogFuse generated applications. However, BlogFuse does make it very easy for individual readers to share the stories they think valuable.
I'll use it for now. It looks like a nice widget to drive readers back to the blog rather than orphaning them inside Facebook.