Some websites get the majority of their traffic from social media. Not this one – it's not really my bag. I rely on organic traffic, and I'm happy doing what I'm doing. That being said, I'm missing out on a huge chunk of traffic by not participating in social media. Are you willing to miss out on that? I had a Pinterest pin go semi-viral recently and it doubled my income for about 3 days. That was one single pin. Imagine what a targeted, effective, long-term social media strategy could do for your website and your income.
While WordPress has a social sharing feature by default whereby it allows you to include social sharing buttons with your content, the feature is pretty basic, often slow, and is limited to relatively few social networks. While the most widely recognized platforms for sharing are Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, there are many more specialized platforms out there like Gentlemint or Houzz.
That's why you need to use a social sharing plugin! If you want to improve and further facilitate sharing of content for your users and connect your website to a wider range of social networks, you should invest in a “more than basic” social sharing plugin.
In this article, we'll go together through 6 of the top plugins in this category, and by the end, you will hopefully get to determine which of them best befits your needs. Some work to simply shock visitors out of the lull of seeing yet another version of the same social sharing options, while others work to engage users on a specific platform. What's your favorite social sharing plugin? Let us know in the comments!
- Price: Single Site Plugin ($29/year) – 5-Site License ($135/year) – 10-Site License ($250/year)
That's a plugin that earns its name fair and square. Social Warfare combines a range of features that are capable of driving your social media exposure right into the ceiling. You just need to know how to deploy these features because some of them might need some strategizing in order to reach their ultimate levels of effectiveness.
Social Warfare prioritizes the aesthetic aspect more than most social sharing plugins. The social media buttons come with up to 500 potential styling combinations that you can apply to them in order to have fitted into your website's general theme. After customizing them to your taste, you can then embed them anywhere on your website using simple shortcodes that even a total tech amateur can use without any confusion.
Now let's get to the actual social sharing features. For Twitter, the plugin provides you with the capability to include tweetable quotes inside your text. These are quotes that are formatted as tweets that your users can retweet directly from inside your posts with optimum simplicity. These tweets can be attached to images that would appear with your users' retweets but wouldn't necessarily appear in the original post on your website. The images can be made to include a “via @…” footnote to trace it back to the website. Social Warfare also comes with a built-in plugin named Frame Buster that prevents users from making any changes to your content or messages.
As for Pinterest, a lot of people complain that their images do not appear as they intended them to be due to Pinterest's dimensional specificities. When an image does not have the ideal Pinterest-friendly dimensions, this could affect its exposure on the social network. Social Warfare has a feature that allows you to customize the dimensions so that when an image is shared to Pinterest it would automatically adopt Pinterest-friendly standards regardless of how it is originally displayed on your website. You can even add image descriptions to appear with the Pinterest shares.
Share count is a crucial part of the game that many plugins neglect. The number of shares can help grab users' attention to certain posts when they can see that other people found it interesting enough to share with their followers. Using Social Warfare you can block the share count from appearing if it's below a minimum count that you can determine. Also, you can add a widget to display the most popular posts or items by share count. If you decide to change your domain, permalink structures, or protocols.
The plugin naturally comes with UTM tracking to provide you with stats for each post's sharing activity, but you can also easily integrate it to the analytics plugin of your choice. Finally, your social sharing options are all made to be accessible from any device or screen, and thanks to Social Warfare, you shouldn't worry about the slowdowns that tend to come with linking your website to social media which ends up affecting negatively your SEO performance and your users' satisfaction. The plugin allows your website to include these features while operating at an impressive speed.
- Price: Just Starting (Free) – Professional ($24/month) – Small Business ($59/month) – E-Commerce ($199/month)
What gives Sumo a real edge among its competitors is that it's connected to around 65 online social services, more than arguably any other plugin in its category. It goes without saying that it includes the mainstream social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit, Whatsapp, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc., but it also enables you to connect to some social networks that you might have never even known existed. Some of them are specific to certain industries or business activities that your website might benefit from being plugged into. For example, Sumo connects to buffer, Amazon, pocket, Instapaper, Delicious, Digg, FriendFeed, and many other platforms.
Interestingly, the plugin has a smart feature in its social sharing buttons that allows it to automatically optimize the order of the buttons on any given post based on each button's performance on that post. For example, if you add Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and Amazon buttons to a post in that order, and on a certain day the plugin detects that users are doing most of the sharing on Amazon, then on Digg then Facebook, etc., it will automatically change the order accordingly to bring the most popular of the available networks to the beginning of the row. That optimization occurs on a daily basis without you having to mind making any manual changes.
The plugin comes with a built-in mobile-responsiveness feature that adapts the sharing section to mobile or tablet display, but if you use the plugin's Pro version you are giving the option to configure the mobile-specific features yourself. The Pro version also provides you with stats gather via UTM tracking, and you can download the entire sharing history or that of certain time periods in CSV format. There's a trivial detail that the Pro version adds but one that can give your website a substantially more professional look and it is that Sumo's branding is completely removed from your sharing section, which would make it look like you developed it specifically for your website.
- Price: Starter ($59) – Extended ($89) – Membership ($119)
If you look around in this category, you will find that Kiwi Pro, just like most of Macho Themes other products, maintains a high level of popularity among website operators. The interface in this plugin is unmatchable. You don't need to embed shortcodes or write any manual code of your own. The whole process is done through the plugin's drag-and-drop interface. You get to set up your social sharing bar by dragging in the icons for the social networks of your choice. The plugin supports a fairly wide selection of social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ Telegram, Whatsapp, Reddit, Skype, and LinkedIn. After setting up your bar, you have several options in the layout you will use, whether it will be a sidebar, floating bar, or if you will place it at the top/bottom of the content.
There is a visual editor inside the plugin that allows you to make some modifications in the icons you're using. Most social sharing plugins do not address the problem of long URLs, which as you might know can prevent a post from being shared on certain social networks that have a maximum limit for characters like Twitter, for example. Kiwi has a built-in URL shortener that automatically does the job. In addition to that, Kiwi Pro comes with a built-in Google Analytics feature to provide you with insights on your users' sharing activity. Having Google Analytics embedded in the plugin puts it ahead of its competitors who mostly use their own analytics features that definitely would not match Google's features.
Monarch Social Sharing
- Price: Yearly Access ($89) – Lifetime Access ($249)
Monarch is another prime social sharing plugin. It supports more than 35 social networks that you can include in your social sharing section. These include Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Amazon, Pinterest, Reddit, Outlook, buffer, and many others. One of the best things about this plugins is its flexibility with regards to placement. You can place your social sharing buttons in any of 5 different locations:
- floating sidebars
- above/below content
- on images and videos
- automatic pop-ups
- automatic fly-ins
These last two are not available in any of the other plugins that I checked out, and you can customize their triggers as you wish. You can make them appear after a user has spent a certain duration on a certain page or post, or when they reach the bottom of a post, or after commenting, purchasing, or a period of inactivity. They can also be set up to appear after the user had scrolled down to a specified percentage of the page.
Besides the display options, we already mentioned, using simple shortcodes you can embed the social sharing buttons anywhere on the website. Also, these options only cover the layout, but the design itself is customizable in terms of shapes, colors, and can include any of 4 different hover effects. The buttons come by default colored in their respective networks' colors (e.g. Facebook is blue, Pinterest is red, etc.), but you can simply color Facebook's button green if you wish. You can also choose to display the name of the social network represented by each button on the button itself as well as the number of followers you have on your page on that network.
The Dashboard that Monarch provides you with is not exactly similar to the WordPress dashboard, but it's nevertheless extremely easy to use and actually nice to look at. It includes all of your settings, statistics, and you can use it to import and export data and stats on your website's sharing activity. The stats are easy to read and are presented in colorful graphs that look relatively pleasant. Finally, the Monarch plugin operates at an excellent speed and will not slow down your website one bit, and it also adapts perfectly to mobile phones and tablets without you necessarily having to apply any modifications to it.
P.S. The prices mentioned above cover all of the plugins and themes provided by Elegant Themes since they only sell packages that include Monarch among other tools.
- Price: $20
This plugin is a great way to not only expose your content and facilitate social sharing, but also to allow you and your users to monitor the popularity of your website. Social Buzz supports the four major networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn). It's extremely easy to install, and while its styling options aren't that many (only 3), the main focus in this plugin is on practicality rather than aesthetics. However, you can apply further changes to the style but you will have to do some CSS coding. Other than that, you won't need to do any coding whatsoever.
Social Buzz's most distinctive feature is that it produces graphs that could be embedded into the page for you and your users to view. These graphs depict the sharing activity that was done on a certain post on each of the social networks I mentioned. The graphs are quite easy to read and will grab your users' attention to your growth.
- Price: Single Site License ($37) – Multisite License ($47) – Developer's License ($77)
This plugin is exclusively concerned with Twitter, so if that's the only social network you wish to connect your website to, then you should not waste your time with all the other plugins since you won't be using the rest of their features. TweetDis handles Twitter quite effectively. Instead of having your users tweeting links to entire articles or posts from your website, you can have certain quotes or portions of text converted into tweetable widgets that your users can retweet with a single click (you can have your name mentioned with the tweets for credit). This gives you the chance to choose the most illuminating quotes and the coolest catchphrases to be spread by your users, and you would be amazed by the amount of traffic that can come from just one of these quotes going viral with your name on it.
TweetDis is equipped with a lot of catchy styling features. You can apply some pretty neat designs to your tweetable widgets, some including Twitter themes. Some of the designs even have a slight animated effect like hovers and whatnot. It's generally an easy-to-use plugin that isn't bloated with too many features that you might not have a need for.
What About Traffic & Conversions?
Plugins are great when they solve specific problems in an elegant way. They can make your website work better, engage your audience, and build your brand.
A plugin won't autogenerate traffic or guarantee conversions though. It won't magically turn your website into a thriving, cash-generating online business
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