There is no doubt that social media sharing buttons are a must-have for any blog. They offer a convenient way for your site visitors to share your content with others in their sphere of influence, so that your work can be exposed to more people. Thankfully, WordPress has developed a robust framework that is able to accommodate several different types of social sharing plugins, making the process of adding social buttons to your site as easy as clicking a few buttons.
So how do you choose among the litany of social sharing plugins that are available on the Web? The main thing to keep in mind is that you want to select a plugin that will do the job efficiently, have a quick load time, and demonstrate compatibility across all of the major Web browsers. With these ideas in mind, below are our picks for the top five WordPress plugins for social media:
AddThis is a “veteran” in the realm of social sharing, having released their first sharing tool in 2006. They hold the title of the world’s largest social analytics and infrastructure platform, and their social sharing utilities are built for use across all types of platforms, not just WordPress. There are a few minor drawbacks to the AddThis plugin, however; there are a handful of elements that are not as customizable as what you can find with comparable plugins, and no floating sidebar option exists either. On the positive side, AddThis offers a good range of button layouts, plus you get access to a plethora of analytics data when you sign up for an AddThis account.
Flare has quickly risen in popularity to become one of the most robust social sharing plugins to emerge on the scene in quite a while. Flare offers excellent flexibility by giving you the option to float your “Follow Me” social sharing widget on whatever area of the page you deem most fit. You can order your social icons to suit your preference, and customize their appearance as well. If you choose to place your Flare widget on the left or right side of your page, the widget will “follow” the visitor’s scrolling activity in order to remain visible, but then it will conveniently hide when it’s not needed. Flare also offers you the ability to choose the size and shape of your sharing buttons.
3. Digg Digg
Digg Digg offers a fully customizable floating share bar that acts as an “all-in-one” social sharing plugin. One of the most beneficial features of Digg Digg’s social sharing plugin is its “lazy loading” feature, which lowers page load time and increases your site’s overall performance. Digg Digg also provides a nifty selection of robust features for Facebook in particular, including generating Facebook like thumbnails, sending content to Facebook from the widget, and supporting multiple languages. In addition, the Digg Digg plugin carries one of the most extensive social button selections available on the Web.
Formerly known as “Sexy Bookmarks”, Shareaholic features animated social buttons that are partially “tucked away” in the widget bar until you hover your mouse over them. Shareaholic takes sharing a step further by not only giving you a wide range of social bookmarking sites to choose from, but it also offers “Related Content” and “Recommendations” scripts that pull relevant articles or pages from within your site in order to increase your overall page views. Included in Shareaholic’s many useful features is a Social Analytics function that provides you with insighful and actionable information on how users are interacting with your plugin.
5. Simplified Social Sharing
This no-nonsense plugin gets the job done, offering your visitors access to share your content on over 90 popular social networks. Simplified Social Sharing is compatible with the popular Automattic products Buddypress (an open-source social networking script) and BBPress (an open-source forum script), affording you flexibility across several different types of sites. One of the most prominent advantages of Simplified Social Sharing is that it can be managed from within your WP admin interface, a welcome feature for WordPress users that are still developing their coding chops. The user interface for the plugin is intuitive and tab-based, allowing you easy access to multiple customization options.
Social sharing has become much more important in recent years, as search engines such as Google have begun to incorporate certain “social signals” into their algorithms in order to determine if a website is worthy of a high ranking in the search listings. By using one of the above social media sharing plugins, you not only increase the aesthetic appeal of your site, but you also have the potential to generate greater traffic levels as well.