How can you share content from WordPress

How to Integrate Social Media Share Buttons in WordPress [Checklist & Plugin Recommendations]

Last updated on June 30, 2018 at 9:39 am

Have you ever wondered whether the share buttons on your WordPress blog are actually doing their job well? Have you ever tried to share your articles on different smartphones or tested which buttons and designs generate the most shares and thus also generate social traffic? The following article highlights the integration of social media share buttons from different sites and the plugin tips at the end will save you a lot of research. But scroll forward not “scroll forward” - the functionality, appearance and tasks of social media sharing buttons in 2015 differ significantly from their predecessor models.

Update | November 2016: Social Warfare Review

Since writing this article, a new competitor has entered the social sharing plugin stage: I was so excited about Social Warfare that I switched immediately. Read here what SWF does better than the competition.

A carelessly grafted like button in 2015 no longer has anything to do with meaningful social media integration. Even a lovingly built-in one would miss its target: Because the new magic word is not “I like it”, but “Share this post with your friends”. There are as many plugins out there as buttons in a fully occupied Share-This bar, but before the inclined WordPress blogger installs one extension after the other, he should ask himself the crucial question: What added value does the integration of social services bring to mine Blog firstly for my readers and secondly for my goals?

This quickly shows which features are useful and necessary and which ballast can be safely dispensed with. I have dealt intensively with the topic in the last 12 months and tried all possible variants until I finally found the optimal configuration for my readers and me, including the ideal WordPress plugins.

The joy shared is the traffic doubled.

If you are now wondering what a seemingly trivial matter such as the installation of a few share buttons requires closer examination, you should definitely continue reading this article. Unless you have already given a lot of thought to sharing posts on your mobile phone, choosing the right networks, button design with the highest conversion rate, statistical evaluations of the most shared articles and incorporating all the necessary meta information into the header of your blog ... no? Then it is high time that half of your visitors find you through Facebook recommendations. And Facebook recommendations are only available if as many social media friends as possible share your content - which brings us to the core topic. But first:

Historical digression: A short excursion into recent Like-Button history

Almost exactly five years ago I posted the article on datenschmutz How to integrate the Facebook Like button in WordPress released. Back in April 2010, Facebook published the first social plugins, and in a very short time the button with the thumbs up became state-of-the-art.

The good old Facebook Like Button: First just the thumb, then the counter - and later there were also the mini avatars of your own friends.

Various share button cemeteries had existed for a long time. They were crammed with Digg and Delicious icons, and in the German-speaking area Webnews, Yigg, Mister Wong and others were added. But dynamic button content? That was new. Even back then, I predicted that these little code snippets would become a real data-collecting gold mine for Facebook. But I would not have believed at the time that five years later 50% of the average blog traffic would come from social media platforms.

The social media ecosystem has changed dramatically since then, with a handful of large players remaining from the many small networks. And even if not everything that shines is a share: Today almost no website can do without a share button bar. The blue thumb has long since become obsolete: Nowadays people are only liked on Facebook, on external sites the share function is definitely preferable to liking in terms of reach.

The external like button should have been abolished long ago anyway, but somehow Mark can't separate himself from this historical relic. From a purely technical point of view, the installation works the same way today as it did back then - however, the requirements for social media integration have become much more complex. And because the surfer should not like, but share, the so-called "native buttons" are actually largely obsolete.

Thumbs up? Please rather share!

Since said historical data pollution article is still one of the most visited articles, it was time for an update. Because the question "How do you optimally integrate social media platforms into your own WordPress blog?“Is just as current as it was then, but the answer is very different.

Social Media Integration: From WordPress and to WordPress

Social media integration is a two-way street: many bloggers build a Twitter box with their own latest tweets or a Facebook box (a miniature version of their own Facebook page integrated via iFrame) into the sidebar. Alternative comment systems for WordPress import related discussions from Facebook or Twitter (for example Disqus or the Livefyre used here), the social media wall groups the status updates of the social blogger scattered over various networks clearly on the own WordPress page.

The solutions described bring content from social media platforms to your own blog. About these "From social media to WordPress“I will write integration soon, this article deals with the“ opposite direction ”. Namely with the question of how WordPress bloggers can elegantly and efficiently play out their own content in social media networks - ie "From WordPress to Social Media„.

Incorporating share buttons in WordPress: the checklist

What requirements does a modern share button solution have to meet? The following checklist helps with decision-making and helps with decision-making, because the following points need to be clarified:

  1. Functionality
  2. design
  3. Mobile suitability
  4. Meta information (Open Graph Tags and Co.)
  5. flexibility
  6. Privacy
  7. Bonus: Nice additional features

1. Functionality

Which social networks do my blog readers use? The required share buttons result from the answer. Lately I've often come across the view that one should limit the selection to a maximum of two networks. This restriction on Facebook and Twitter may be right for large-scale list hurlers like Buzzfeed or Upworthy. Personally, I don't want to do without LinkedIn and Google+.

For fashion and lifestyle bloggers Pinterest is probably important, German-speaking business blogs could also consider Xing. Incidentally, Mashable solves the problem with a + button: by default, only the two large ones are displayed, after clicking on the plus symbol, Google+, LinkedIn and StumpleUpon (still quite popular in the USA) and Pinterest complete the bar.

The Mashable creators have carefully considered how to maximize their shares. The total counter on the left and the trend development on the right only make sense from a certain popularity.

The counter is the dominant element in the ad and demonstrates the popularity of the contributions.

2. Design

“Anything that a share button is more beautiful than a monkey is a luxury,” said Aunt Jolesch a few years ago. This paraphrase has lost its validity: The so-called "native buttons" have gone out of fashion and have long been replaced by adapted versions. "Flat" and "Metro designs" are particularly popular: wide, flat buttons with or without icons and lettering in the main color of the respective network. Flexible plugins meanwhile allow completely free design.

A selection of popular sharing button designs.

Sometimes the buttons are no longer classic buttons at all, but appear as a freely floating and scrolling sidebar. In any case, the following applies: Individuality stands out from the crowd, but must not impair usability.

3. Mobile compatibility: Responsive sharing buttons

What is fun on the huge flat screen does not necessarily have to work on the cell phone. Many extravagant designs lose their appeal as soon as the blogger - hopefully in front of his readers - notices that everything is running perfectly on his own Android phone, but the stupid iPhones are not playing along (or vice versa). In practice, the “golden” middle ground is usually just a mediocre compromise.

The greatest possible flexibility is provided by plugins that allow a different display on the desktop than on smartphones, such as a floating and scrolling bar on the large computer and a rigidly built-in button bar at the beginning of the article on mobile devices. And retina suitability would not be bad in times of ultra-high-resolution displays, especially since tiny buttons on the touchscreen reduce accuracy and pixelated display would disturb the carefully maintained appearance of your own site.

4. Meta information: Open Graph Tags, Twitter Cards and Co.

Status updates without an image have become rare on Facebook, and an open graph image is part of the standard repertoire in 2015 like metatags 10 years ago (the latter, by the way, has been ignored by Google for several years). The blog author should of course be able to determine which preview image is displayed when the article is shared. If the webmaster does not use the og: image tag, Facebook falls for guesswork and also likes to take a completely unsuitable advertising photo.

Open graph tags or Twitter cards are essential for optimal display on Facebook and Twitter.

Simply knitted plugins nominate, if available, the featured image of the respective WordPress posting as a preview image and, in the case of absence, fall back on a standard image, well thought-out plugins allow more precise fine-tuning in the form of dedicated, different images, titles and descriptions for individual social networks. This increases the editorial time considerably, but the investment is worthwhile for bloggers with a high proportion of social traffic.

5. Flexibility in terms of display and installation

Plugins with a minimalist options screen can be configured quickly, but often turn out to be too rigid. Do you want the share buttons to appear on blog posts and static pages? Share functions have no place on an imprint page or on the contact form, but on other pages they do. Most extensions allow at least individual IDs to be excluded. The configuration directly via the input mask, which only a few plugins offer, is much more convenient.

Basically, WordPress knows 4 options for inserting additional elements: automatic insertion, integration via php command in the template files, integration via shortcode directly in the editor or integration as a widget. All variants have their advantages and disadvantages, so I prefer plugins that support all options (also in combination).

6. Privacy - Social Network listens

The common solutions transfer data to the individual social networks. This is of course unavoidable when sharing, only communication already takes place when loading. Of course, these built-in “tracking pixels” also send the access data of users who (do not want to) use these social networks to the respective operator. Centralized services like AddThis also collect all share transaction data on their own servers.

However, this is by no means a reason to forego share buttons, because here, too, there are technical solutions in which the buttons are implemented in such a way that they do not “call home”.

7. The freestyle: evaluations, counters, statistics and widgets Co.

Every motivated (business) blogger should heed the first five points. Hobbyists, analysts and WordPress freaks will also appreciate some additional functions. This includes exit pop-ups that prompt you to share when you leave the page (use it sparingly and carefully, of course), sharing and click statistics, perhaps even in combination with a "Most-shared posts" widget and configurable individual and total counters - none of them must-haves, but sensible and useful features. Just like float-over share buttons for individual pictures on the blog ...

Yes, it's true: The ostensibly trivial sharing function has a major impact on the viral marketing success of every blog. Even the big ones are experimenting and developing their own best practices - no wonder, because social and SEO traffic are meanwhile equally important.

WordPress Plugin Recommendations: The Best Sharing Button Solutions

The WordPress plugin offer has also changed significantly since 2010. You still get the standard features for free, but the highlights have almost completely moved to the premium sector. The functions described here could also be pieced together with free plugins. If you value the performance of your blog, you will want to keep the number of extensions as low as possible - after all, every unknown plugin increases the risk of a "system brake": Much that looks pretty on the surface slows down performance enormously under the hood.

If you use several plugins in parallel, you should also make sure that meta information and scripts are not inserted more than once. The fact that dubious bloat and malware breakdowns in connection with free share plugins have repeatedly cropped up in the past does not necessarily make the selection easier. I tried all possible sharing plugins on my test domains and ended up with the unbeatable, multifunctional like legends Retweet-Wollmilch-Sau Easy Social Share Buttons.

Social sharing: Recommended free plugin

In addition to the plugins presented here, the marketplace offers countless other alternatives. You shouldn't judge just by good looks: In some cases the data runs via third-party servers such as Add-This, in others the programming does not comply with established WordPress best practices.

  • Shariff Sharing: based on the c’t editorial team's Github project of the same name. Flexibly configurable and without a focus on privacy - when the page is loaded, no data is transmitted to social networks.
  • Hupso Share Buttons for Twitter, Facebook & Google+: several designs to choose from, minimalistic, fast and with the most important configuration options.
  • AA’s Digg Digg alternative: Floating toolbar with share buttons for the most common networks. Faster than the original and programmed to save resources.
  • Simple Share Buttons Adder: A classic with many functions and the option of uploading your own images as button skins.
  • Mashshare: Social media icons in the style of Mashable, but without trend indicators. The free version has only a few features, the required add-ons have to be bought separately and at a comparatively expensive price.
  • Add Meta Tags: An SEO plugin usually takes care of the basic meta information. Add Meta Tags also masters Opengraph, Schema.org, Twitter Cards and the Dublin Core Standard - all meta tag sections can be activated individually as required.

As is so often the case, the better alternative is a premium plugin - readers who are dirty with data are familiar with it Easy social share buttons long time. There are many reasons why I chose this solution.

ESSB - Easy Social Share Buttons

Before I switched to ESSB, I used several plugins in parallel - a fan counter, a plugin for the metatags, one for the buttons - with ESSB this is no longer necessary, because this ingenious plugin brings all of the features described above and a few more Extra goodies with. The premium plug-in is sold via Envatos Codecanyon-Market, the downright absurdly low price of $ 14 per domain and lifetime license is in no relation to the range of functions.

The functionality of the ESSB is unique.

In addition, I only use the Esay Social Video Share Addon from the same programmer - a sharing solution for embedded videos that has a nice lazy loader and a few special features for sharing videos directly.

ESSB is one of the most thoughtful and complex plugins I've ever used (and I've used a whole bunch of complex plugins). This is also reflected in the extensive configuration interface. Hobbyists and design foxes can let off steam down to the last detail, beginners are best served with one of the importable basic configurations.

One of the most powerful features is the input mask directly on the editing screen: Here you can fine-tune all values ​​for each post, including a customized preview image, title and description for Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Easy social share buttons elegantly scales with the needs of the user and saves renewed research for API changes, because updates appear regularly every few weeks. Creoworks has sold over 8,000 licenses so far - no wonder anyone who has used ESSB on their own WordPress installation will no longer be satisfied with less.

Conclusion: I recommend all ambitious WordPress bloggers to rely on a functional and comprehensively implemented sharing button solution yesterday than today. Those who still trust the like thumb are simply giving away too much traffic.

Easy Social Share Buttons - Rating
Pros
Fine tuning down to the last detail
several unique selling points
Cons
(too) complex backend
Resource intensive
Summary
The most comprehensive social sharing plugin solution at an unbeatable price.

Image “Share instead of hate”: Initiative Real Social Market Economy IESM / pixelio.de

Keywords:Best Practices, Facebook, Integration, LinkedIn, Media Share Buttons, Metatags, Social Share Buttons, Share, Twitter, Widget, WordPress