Social media like Facebook and Twitter can play a huge role in publicizing your website, attracting new visitors and increasing comments/community spirit. There are hundreds of social media plugins available for WordPress – we have picked out our top 10.
They are not in any particular order because different plugins will suit different websites – a lot depends on your own requirements, site design and desire to customize – there is no single social media plugin that is perfect for all WordPress websites.
SexyBookmarks – about 2.2 million downloads, full featured.
Social bookmarking plugin, includes the usual Facebook, Twitter, +1 but adds a huge variety of other services – confession, some of them even we had never heard of! The plugin interface lets you pick and choose which social bookmark services are displayed and how they appear – highly configurable. Over a million downloads, bang up to date, multi language support but surprisingly low average rating.
We used this plugin here at TechLogon for a while but, after using Social Metrics (see bottom of this list) to establish which services were of benefit, we ended up disabling most of the services. In the end we abandoned it for a more lightweight plugin – but only because we did not need all its many features.
Tweet, Like, Google +1 and Share – about 320,000 downloads, simple but fast
A really simple social share plugin with just 5 social icons (Twitter, Facebook Like, Google +1, Linkedin and FaceBook Share) although you can add further custom buttons if you wish. This is the plugin that we use here at TechLogon – see the bottom of this post for an example (can be configured for posts/pages at top/bottom and left/right/floating). We tried dozens of other plugins and settled on this one as it is quick and does the job if you only want the most popular social networks represented.
AddToAny – about 3.5 million downloads, hugely popular
Share, bookmark and email posts and pages using any service such as Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and over 100 more sharing and social bookmarking sites. Can be heavily customized with styles and colors. Social sites may appear via a drop down ‘Share’ button which does keep the page looking clean and uncluttered but may not please everyone.
ShareThis – about 2.1 million, also available is a separate web browser add-on
The popular ShareThis plugin provides a simple way for users to share your content through email and 50+ social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Digg etc with simultaneous sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Email and more. Free registration (optional) provides access to enhanced share related analytics for your site (e.g. traffic sources and top shares) so you can see which social networks/posts are most successful.
Jetpack by WordPress.com – about 14 million downloads
Readers can easily share posts via email or their favorite social networks – previously provided by the Sharedaddy WordPress plugin. Jetpack adds other features that were previously available only on wordpress.com sites such as advanced stats, better Gravatar functionality and easy media embedding – worth having even if you don’t use the social media part of the plugin.
Sociable – about 2.2 million downloads
Sociable provides a large number of share icons for your blog posts. The full list of social networking sites is very extensive and includes all the usual – there is also a share via email option. Highly configurable, you can choose from various styles and sizes of icons.
Share And Follow – Feb 2015: this is now obsolete!
Adds share icons, Follow links, Facebook Like, Twitter Tweet and many other buttons on your site. What is different about this plugin is that it also gives links for Following, not just sharing – combining the two may mean you can remove one or more of your existing Following plugins, keeping everything configured within a single plugin. Share and follow links can also be put in sidebar widgets.
CommentLuv – about 850,000 downloads
We’ve sneaked this one in because, although it is not strictly a social media plugin (in the sense of Tweet/Like etc), it can enhance community spirit and is especially useful if most of your visitors have their own website. CommentLuv visits the website of the comment author whilst they type their comment and retrieves their last blog posts which they can choose to include at the bottom of their comment when they click submit.
This can increase comments and lead to some interesting links but, if your commenters very rarely have a website of their own, CommentLuv will be underused. We do like this plugin but we highly recommend you use a good anti-spam plugin like Akismet etc to help weed out spam/malicious website links and comments (or use comment moderation).
Social Metrics – about 58,000 downloads, best kept secret?
This is a great reporting plugin which tracks how many times your posts have been shared across the following social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Google +1, Google Buzz, StumbleUpon, Digg and LinkedIn. The results are displayed in tabular format and are accessed from the WordPress Admin bar. It is easily configurable to display results for posts and/or pages and you can filter results to display by category and month.
Social Metrics provides a quick way to find out which social media websites are most successful for you. As a social network connection can slow down page loading speed, it is important to find out which are very rarely used so that you can remove them e.g. if this plugin proves that hardly any of your visitors share your posts on LinkedIn, you should get rid of it.
Sharebar – about 234,000 downloads, floating/scrolling social media bar
Sharebar adds a floating (dynamic and fully customizable) vertical bar to the left of a blog post that contains links/buttons for popular social networking sites. You can also add custom buttons for extra sites. The biggest feature here is the ‘floating’ nature of the bar which follows users as they scroll down the page.
The floating means the bar will always be visible even in a very long page – you’ll either love it or hate it. Personally we find floating bars like this incredibly distracting but they are becoming more popular on many websites.
There are hundreds more to choose from but we think these 10 are the best social media plugins for WordPress that you can choose from. They represent a good mix of popularity, complexity, features and support. Let us know in the comments if you use any others that offer something extra.
Tip: avoid using plugins which are obsolete or have not been updated in a long time – they are more likely to be incompatible with newer WordPress releases and plugins. All these top 10 social media plugins for WordPress have been updated this year.
Don’t go overboard with these plugins – the fewer social icons you have, the faster your pages should load which can be very important in attracting and retaining visitors.