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The Struggle To Manage Facebook Pages From Your Android
Facebook pages are becoming increasingly important in the social world and the business world in general. Anyone who does virtually anything should have one. So that’s a lot of people! What frustrates me to no end is the pain I’ve been through to try and get a solution to managing my Facebook pages on my Android device. I’m not after anything complex, I don’t want Insights or anything (it would be nice though ;) ). Just the ability to post (including media), comment and view other comments, that should do it. Is it so much to ask? This search was filled with dead-ends and compromise and what I’ve come up with is something to make do for now. Here’s what I did.
The Facebook App
The natural place to go was the Facebook application itself but the Android version has constantly been playing catchup to the iPhone app and was stuck in the dark ages for a while. Even now it hasn’t quite matched up. As far back as 2009 iPhone users have enjoyed being able to update their pages from their iPhone’s. This isn’t fair but what can I do.
How about the web interface? This attempt was somewhat fruitless. The m.facebook.com site didn’t come up with the goods. The touch.facebook.com site lets you view the page and add comments (as the page) but this is limited to text and links. It does make it look like you’re talking to yourself “Mark Ledden > Mark Ledden”. It also lets me interact through comments too which is another box checked. However, this wasn’t the greatest solution. What I’m really looking for is the ability to share multimedia content with my updates.
Third Party Apps
The beauty of API’s, apps and developers is there’s usually someone out there working to solve the problem you’re having, provided it’s common enough, or they just happen to care about it as much as you do. Twitter clients are ten a penny and some have even started innovations which have become part of the platform itself.
An old favourite and kick-ass social media tool, Hootsuite can achieve most of what anyone is setting out to do, and probably for free too. When I setup my Facebook page on the desktop client, I was upset that it didn’t appear on the Android app I had already installed. After flicking through some forum threads and a helpful disscussion on Facebook, all I needed to do was to setup my account on the Android app again and….whoo-hoo the Facebook page was there! Perfect. All I need is Hootsuite, right? Wrong. Well, kind of. It turns out Hootsuite was no better than Facebook.com on the mobile. It could only share text and links. If you’ve noticed from using the Hootsuite web app when you want to share a photo you have to have a Twitter account selected. This is no good if you want to offer your Facebook followers something a little more interesting.
So I had what I wanted in terms of interacting on the page and it was looking a bit bleak on finding anything else which would do the job so it was time to track something down which I could use to share content on the page. Facebook is one of the biggest places for sharing photos, and it’s free. Furthermore it makes for a more interesting and engaging experience on your Facebook page.
Posterous is not only a great and simple blogging platform but it has the ability to auti-post to many other platforms. By sending an email with photos, video or links etc attached it will push the media onto relevant chosen sites such as Flickr, YouTube, WordPress, Delicious and many more. It had suport for Facebook pages. The problem I found here was first of all you need to install the Posterous app on your Facebook profile to give you the right permissions. You also don’t get the same posting options on Posterous as you do for a Facebook profile and only results as a thumbnail on the wall.
Pixelpipe is an immensely powerful tool which lets you push anything to anywhere. You basically setup ‘pipes’ which are routings to different services, working in a similar way to Posterous. I did have some rotation issues with pictures. With the stock camera on my Android I’ve always had problems sending photos anywhere. They’ve always been the wrong way round. However, when I take a picture with something like Tweetdeck, it’s always the right way. When uploading through pixelpipe, the pic taken with Tweetdeck is right and the stock camera one is wrong. The exif data doesn’t seem to be getting written properly, it seems to need another app to help it along. To solve this I’m using a replacement camera app so all the photos I upload take the correct aspect. This seems to be the best solution for uploading content.
For the time being, until we get a proper solution for managing Facebook pages on Android devices, I’m using a combination of Hootsuite and Pixelpipe. Hootsuite for the interaction; comments & brief status updates and Pixelpipe for the media content. It’s not the perfect all-in-one solution but it works so I’ll stick with it for now.
I’ve just gotten wind of the new and improved Seesmic for Android app. It’s had a major Facebook update and now allows you to manage all of your pages and you can post photos with your updates. After a bit of testing, I’m pretty happy with it. I can update, comment and share photos all within the app. There is the option to upload video but I haven’t had any success. I’ll keep trying to see if I have any luck and keep you updated. Seesmic have done a top job bringing this functionality to the Android platform and no doubt others will shortly follow suit but who knows how long it’ll be before we can do all of this in the official Facebook app.