A website without an integration of multiple social media channels is hard to imagine nowadays. Facebook and Twitter offer interfaces and plugins that allow users to integrate profiles and pages into their own website. Furthermore, there is a number of services that incorporate a multitude of social media channels at once without a lot of effort. The service neosmart STREAM is one of them. However, it is not a typical cloud service, but a solution for self-hosting.
Downloading and Installing the Package
One thing in advance: Neosmart Stream
is available as a free and a paid version. In this article, we will only show you features that work with the free variant already. This is how to do it:
First, the round about 1,5 megabytes large ZIP archive has to be downloaded, unzipped and uploaded to your web space. The service requires PHP starting from version 5.3 as well as the library cURL. Both is included in most hosting plans which means that, as a rule, the service can be used without any preparation in advance. Upon first access from the browser, some rights have to be adjusted, and an admin password needs to be set for administration.
Afterwards, you will find an interface similar to a content management system from which you can then access different social networks. Now you got the opportunity to integrate posts from Facebook and Twitter into your website.
Accessing Facebook and Twitter Posts
No knowledge of the respective APIs of Facebook and Twitter is needed to integrate the two networks via net smart STREAM. To access a Facebook page, you only need to enter the ID or the name of the page. Following that, you only transfer a so-called access token. You can receive it by granting neosmart STREAM access to your account in the Facebook app.
Setting up the Channels
Afterwards, you decide how many Facebook posts should be pulled over into your website and if only your posts or also other people's ramblings should be displayed. Via a live preview you can directly see the results.
The Twitter integration works similarly. First, however, a Twitter app has to be set up to gain access to the tweets on your profile. Access tokens and access secrets as well as consumer key and tokens then need to be integrated into neosmart STREAM through the created Twitter app. Successful connection to the network is signalised by a status display.
Adjusting the Appearance via Themes
The service comes with a bunch of themes that allow you to alter the appearance of your articles the way you desire. A live preview instantly shows you how your profile and page posts will be displayed.
Choosing a Theme
In total, there are five free themes available. These are activated via a simple click. If you like it more of your own style, you can create a personal theme from scratch as well. A guide to what files a theme needs to contain and how it is designed is included in the documentation. Of course, you can also choose one of the existing themes as a starting point for your own. Since the entire service is hosted by you, you have access to all files, and thus, you can adjust them the way you want to.
Integrating Social Media Plugins
Once you connected the social networks to neosmart STREAM and chose a theme or designed the appearance, you can now embed the plugin in your website. There are several options available. The most common will be the standard option to integrate the plugin via Iframe. The measurements are transferred via the <iframe> element. The content itself adapts accordingly.
Alternatively, you can add the plugin via PHP. To do so, all you need to do is include a couple lines of PHP script into the web project. A requirement is, of course, that you set up the read-write permissions correctly to be able to access the index that contains the neosmart STREAM files via PHP.
Creating an Individual Channel
When Facebook and Twitter aren't enough, you can also set up a personal channel. To do so, you need to enter a so-called NSS file as the URL for your new channel. NSS is an XML-based format that is similar to the RSS format. Via NSS you can transfer articles to the service.
This way, you edit the content directly in that file and then send it to your website via the neosmart STREAM plugin.
Free and Paid Plan
The neosmart STREAM service with all the above-shown features is free. The paid plan costs 99 Euro per website and contains a couple more features. For example, you can integrate Facebook features such as the like button, or Twitter's follow and tweet buttons.
Also, the logo of the service is not displayed in the paid version. In the free version, it stays visible in the widget created by the plugin.
neosmart STREAM is easy to use and can be set up quickly. Those who don't design and program a lot themselves and who don't want to deal with Facebook and Twitter's APIs will find a proper solution here. By the way, there is also a plugin for WordPress users to further enhance the use of the service in world's most popular CMS.