subscription – Stay N Alive

How to Replace Your RSS Feed Automatically With Facebook’s Like Button

As I seek to make this blog more and more a part of the social networks you participate in (I call this “From Fishers to Farmers” – something I speak about in my talks), I’ll be documenting my progress along the way. I just showed how I’m doing this with Facebook’s Frictionless Sharing on this blog (just click through to the blog, and click the link over on the right to start adding these posts to your timeline). There’s one more piece though which I think is dwindling. Some call this the “RSS is Dead” argument. I actually talked about the RSS Subscription problem here. What’s happening is the subscribers to RSS feeds such as the one on this site, through analytics sites such as Feedburner, are either slowing or diminishing.

This process is natural as more and more people receive their news on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and away from sites such as Google Reader or traditional RSS Readers. Those tools simply aren’t social, and much less interesting than a typical social network. Therefore I argue content owners need to be looking towards more social ways of distributing their content. I’m doing this specifically on Facebook with an app called RSS Graffiti.

Enter RSS Graffiti and Facebook Open Graph

RSS Graffiti is a Facebook app (it also integrates with Twitter) that will apply any RSS Feed to a Facebook Page you specify (see why I say RSS isn’t dead?). The cool thing about it is on Facebook I can make any website a Facebook Page.

On this blog, if you view the source, do a search for “og:url”. This, and a series of other meta tags (og:site_name, og:description, and og:image, as well as fb:admins are all useful for this) tell Facebook that this URL is also a Facebook Page. To register it with Facebook, just make sure the “fb:admins” tag is in place and lists the id of your Facebook Profile as the value, and go to to register your URL.

Once you do this, your Blog is now a Facebook Page as far as Facebook is concerned. Now all you have to do is add a Like Button Social Plugin to your website as you see at the top of this site above, and people can “like” your website! Seriously – click through to this blog and go click “like” at the top!

Here’s where it gets cool though – now that I’m listed as an admin of that URL, I can send posts to the fans of that URL. Every person that clicks “like” above I can send my articles to. It’s the same as subscribing, but much more social!

How to Create Your Own Social Distribution Channel Using Facebook and Open Graph

Here’s what you need to do to make this happen:

  1. Add the following HTML within the tags on your website or blog – fill in the “content” sections with the appropriate values for your site or blog:

  2. Go to and click “Insights for Your Website” (the green button in the upper-right) – enter the domain you specified from the “og:url” meta tag above, and click on the “Get Insights” button. Your site is now registered (and you can go back here to see stats around your domain!).
  3. Now go to and find your website on the left (it will be under the name you specified in “site_name” above). Go there, and add your site’s RSS Feed. Save it, and it will automatically start posting content to your Facebook Page for every post you make! 
  4. Now you just need some subscribers. You’ll do this with a Facebook Like button, just like you see at the top of this blog. Go to – click the “Like Button” link. Now, just fill out the form – be sure to add the URL you specified in the “og:url” tag above! Click the “get code” button, and now copy and paste that code where you want your like button to go!
If you perform the above steps you should have everything you need to allow your site’s visitors to subscribe to your site through a simple Facebook “like”. Now, when they click “like”, not only do they subscribe to your site, but their friends see it too!
If you want to take this further, you can add the above tags to the other pages on your site, with an og:title tag to specify the title of articles. This will allow you to customize how Facebook sees each article on your site as it shares it out to the fans of your website. If you want to get more specific, be sure to see the documentation of the OpenGraph Protocol over here.
What about Google+ or Twitter? As I mentioned, RSS Graffiti supports Twitter, so you should be taken care of there if you wanted to add a “Follow” button at the top of your website. However, there’s nothing for Google+ at the moment. I think Google would really benefit from either allowing apps to publish to at least Google+ Pages so apps like RSS Graffiti could do something similar with the +1 button. Google+ currently allows you to tie +1 buttons (through Page “Badges”) to Google+ Pages, and if they just allowed apps to publish to Pages you could theoretically do the same with Google+. Maybe if they allow that I’ll post how to do that here as well.

Recurly Recurls Pricing – New Entrepreneurs Not Happy

Up until now I’ve been preparing a raving review about how much I love the recurring payment service, Recurly.  Previously, at simply a fraction of the price of each payment on the service, it was very simple for any entrepreneur to get set up with the service and have an out-of-the-box solution for recurring payments on any website.  Just today Recurly sent out a note to its beta customers stating they were changing that model, and rather than charging per transaction on either a percentage of revenue or the total number of subscribers (the lesser of the two), they would be switching to a flat-rate pricing model.  The pricing would increase based on the services you used rather than the number of transactions.  As a new entrepreneur, I’m horribly disappointed by this new plan.

Just today, Recurly’s CEO sent out a lengthy e-mail explaining the terms.  In the e-mail, Isaac Hall, CEO of Recurly, blamed the new pricing on their talks with entrepreneurs, claiming what entrepreneurs would “likely be paying”, and implying that for most of those they talked to this new pricing structure was more beneficial.  Unfortunately, I was not one of those he talked to, and evidently, nor was Damon Cortesi, another entrepreneur/developer and founder of UntitledStartup (where I learned about Recurly) who responded when I shared my disappointment on Twitter, “I agree re: the monthly fees. That’s a huge hit.”

“Our pricing is simple–we don’t get paid unless you get paid.” – the old slogan

The old pricing was simple – so simple they bragged, “Our pricing is simple–we don’t get paid until you get paid”.  It offered the option of a tiered pricing level where each tier represented a number of users with accounts on your system.  If you had more accounts, you paid more.  There was also a percentage model, where for each purchase a percentage of the pricing would be charged to the transaction – they claimed they would choose the best pricing model based on your number of transactions.  Unfortunately they must not have been getting paid enough.  The new plan is just 3 tiers – $49, $99, and $199/month.  The lower tier being a basic signup solution with no way to determine when users’ cards were declined and no way to whitelabel or do one-time transactions.  The middle layer adds API support and white-label support.  The final layer adds push notifications (for when cards are declined, subscriptions are canceled, etc), and one-time transaction support.

The old pricing model

For a budding entrepreneur trying to bootstrap his company with no guarantees as to whether that company will make any money at all, even $49/month is an expensive choice.  For someone like me who can’t guarantee the user will actually come back to the site after signing up through Recurly, or can’t guarantee the user’s card will be successful the second or third month in, I need the push notification support.  Currently even Paypal offers this on a per-transaction basis, and they provide one-time transaction support (which we’re using on SocialToo).  White label is also critical for maximum fulfillment (something that was next on my list for SocialToo).

However, at $199/month, I just can’t guarantee my sales will always be enough to cover that, pay for hosting (already near $1k/mo), cover maintenance, design, and other costs of supporting the site.  It’s simply too expensive for a site still in the early stages trying to build enough revenue to make something significant.  Considering most businesses are bootstrapped in this manner and not paid for through VC money, this may be something Recurly wants to reconsider.

So, considering, I am now forced to look back at my options and I will probably be considering implementing my own solution now through a service like Paypal or perhaps something native through or similar just like I’m doing on the one-time payments.  I really hope Recurly reconsiders on this.  Their previous plan made it so easy to set up a recurring payment plan it was the obvious choice.  I am stuck looking for more.

You can read the e-mail from the CEO of Recurly here.