Creating an RSS feed for a Facebook group

*Update – I’m getting a few comments about the process outlined below not working. Apologies, but this was written back in August 2009 and Facebook appears to have changed the way you access groups. Feed43 seems to have a problem pulling the data from the page because you have to log in. I’ve since tried and there are ways around it but it’s not perfect so I do not want to update this post until I’ve figured it out properly.

While I’m still figuring out what I actually want to write about next, I thought I’d throw a freebie your way: Creating an RSS feed for a Facebook group.

One of the first things I do when tasked with finding what people are talking about online about a particular subject or client is to look on Facebook. With over 200 million members and 100 million people logging into their accounts at least once a day, there’s usually a lot of useful information ready for you to pillage / use for research purposes.

Facebook_group

Some of these groups you will want to monitor, especially groups that you have set up yourself. Facebook doesn’t allow you to create an RSS feed so you have to visit each group daily if you want to keep on top of the conversations. Or do you….?

Actually, you do have to visit each group if you don’t want to violate their terms and conditions:

“If you collect information from users, you will: obtain their consent, make it clear you (and not Facebook) are the one collecting their information, and post a privacy policy explaining what information you collect and how you will use it.”

However, if you are happy to tip toe around their terms and conditions (I emailed the creator of the group and asked him if I could set up an RSS feed so that my conscience is clear), here’s how you create an RSS feed to keep track of discussions within groups.

Using an RSS feed creator will help you make any plain old-school web page RSS enabled (not sure if that’s the right term). There are quite a few RSS feed creators out there but Feed43 seems to do the job well for me. Here’s how you use it:

Firstly paste the URL of the group page into the appropriate box. Wait while Feed43 uploads the page source of the web page. At this stage it can often be temperamental – saying that it page source hasn’t stacked. Keep trying though and it will work eventually.

feed1

<h3><span>The Wall{%}wall posts</a></div></div></div></div></div>
And in the third box type in the following:
<tr><td><a href=”{%}”><img{*}
class=”profile_link” >{%}</a>{*}
</div><div>{%}</div></td></tr></table>
What I’m saying here is:
“Hello Feed43, firstly have a look at the page source specifically everything between “<h3><span>The Wall” and “wall posts</a></div></div></div></div></div>”.</p>
Within that section, can you find the strings I’ve copied and pasted and extract all the bits that correspond with {%}? Thanks”
Try it with other sites. Fan pages don’t work for some reason though unless something’s changed in the last few months.

In the next box type:

<h3 class=”UIProfileBox_Header clearfix”><span class=”UIProfileBox_Title”>The Wall{%}wall posts</a></div></div></div></div></div>

And in the third box type in the following:

<tr><td class=”wallimage”><a href=”{%}”><img{*} a href=”http://www.facebook.com/people/{%}/{*} </div><div class=”walltext”>{%}</div></td></tr></table>

feed 2

What I’m saying here is:

“Hello Feed43, firstly have a look at the page source specifically everything between “<h3 class=”UIProfileBox_Header clearfix”><span class=”UIProfileBox_Title”>The Wall” and “wall posts</a></div></div></div></div></div>“.

Within that section, can you find the strings I’ve copied and pasted and extract all the bits that correspond with {%}? Thanks”

You then need  to tell feed43 how you want the information presented to you. feed43 will tell you that it has found five items (posts) and automatically generates the extracted (clipped) data, assigning a label {%n} to each section of information you want extracted.

In the next three boxes, you’ll have to assign each clipping to one of the following:

Item Title Template

Item Link Template

Item Content Template

So in this case, I’ve assigned the name of the author of the post to the Item Title Template {%2}, the link {%1) to the Item Link Template and the content Item Content Template {%3}.

feed3

Click the preview button and you should have something like this:

feed4
You can take the RSS feed and stick it in whichever RSS aggregator you use.

Facebook Fan pages don’t work for some reason though unless something’s changed in the last few months. Try it with other sites – it’s especially helpful for old school and relatively obscure B2B tech publications I’ve noticed.

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11 responses to “Creating an RSS feed for a Facebook group

  1. Nice tip Tim – I may use this in the future. Hope you’re well mate.

  2. your code does not work

  3. Bugger, I’ll drop you an email

  4. i can’t get past step 2. getting a “Global pattern didn’t match anything” error reading after i past your code. i’m dying to try this, can you help?

  5. The codes you listed are not working for me either. This seems to be a quite arduous process. An update to help us create an RSS feed for a facebook group would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  6. Please see if you can manage with adding the Facebook Group Feed from http://groupfeed.climatesceptics.org/

  7. Here is a wordpress plugin we wrote that will display like wall post! Easy to use and better than anything out there!

    http://www.slickremix.com/product/jal-facebook-group/

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