How to optimize—and personalize—your brand’s social impact through unique sharing capabilities.
By Michelle Oznowicz | July 3, 2013
Over the course of a day, most people spend more time interacting through social media on their phones, tablets and computers than they spend making calls, emailing, or texting. With Facebook’s one billion active users to Twitter’s four million daily tweets, these networks are dominating the public sphere. Social media is where all the action is.
Establishing a presence on the social networks that are popular with your demographic is the key factor in building brand awareness. Interacting with your customers within and across these channels is helpful for facilitating your community’s growth. Being active on social media also provides unique opportunities to connect with customers in ways that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
After search engines, social networking sites are the primary sources of traffic. When people share your content on social media, their friends can follow the link and end up at your site too, eventually sharing your content to their own circles. The power of social media as a marketing tool is immediate and exponential, so it’s important to come up with a solid social media integration strategy for your WordPress site.
With over 350 WordPress plugins tagged “Share” in the WordPress plugin directory, it can be overwhelming to begin planning your brand’s social media approach. The first thing to consider is which social media channels are going to be most relevant for your particular audience.
Chances are, the following networks are going to be the most appropriate for most, usually in this order: Facebook, Twitter and possibly Google+. If you’re selling a product or creating captivating imagery, then you will want to include Pinterest and Instagram, and if your customer is on the younger side, Tumblr. If your content is current events or business related, you might want to consider Reddit and LinkedIn. If you have video you will want a YouTube channel. StumbleUpon can also be a great source of traffic, especially for niche content.
Once you’ve decided on the social media channels you want to incorporate, implementing your integration does not have to be difficult or tedious. There are a multitude of plugins that developers and bloggers can utilize to connect their site with social media networks. But all you need are a few choice WordPress plugins to simply and seamlessly develop and grow your social media presence.
Because there are so many to choose from, we have compiled a list of five of the top social media plugins for WordPress. You will want to review and compare in order to figure out which ones are best for your site. Here is a quick rundown of some of our favorites:
The Jetpack plugin is actually a bundle of plugins that have been developed specifically for WordPress. Most are free, but others are premium plugins that cost money. Each plugin can be activated or deactivated according to your needs. JetPack is great because it offers so many features under just one plugin. Jetpack is also easy to install, set up, and learn. It provides comprehensive—yet easy to understand—site stats, has user friendly sharing, comments and subscriptions features, and even offers spelling and grammar help. It’s “Beautiful Math” feature is great for blogs that need to neatly display numbers and functions.
Sharebar is a floating social media bar that follows you as you scroll down a site. Because it is always right there with the reader, Sharebar makes it easy and almost tempting for your visitors the share your content on their favorite social media sites. These are some of the sites that work with Sharebar: Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and StumbleUpon. It’s also highly customizable without being that complicated, so you can decide what layout looks best on your site.
Sharaholic offers integrated social sharing buttons that make it easy for visitors to share content in three different styles: “Classic Bookmarks” are basic and functional social sharing buttons that can be placed almost anywhere on the page. “Sexy Bookmarks” are animated and customizable buttons that work with mobile sites and devices. “Sassy Bookmarks” are more of a style-choice, as they appear in a distinct arch-like configuration.
As AddThis proclaims on it’s website, “14 million sites can’t be wrong.” Many sites choose to use this plugin because the installation is simple and it comes in many different styles, which you can choose from easily on the left side of the installation page. With the vertical bar, you can keep the share menu locked in one position and the horizontal bar reveals the buttons automatically when you scroll down the page. AddThis also offers a special list of best practices that provides tips about maximizing its potential, which is helpful.
Social by Mailchimp covers three key facets of social integration, engagement, self promotion, and viral value. By allowing your visitors to log in via their prefered social network and comment on the site under that identity, people already feel comfortable in your domain and don’t have to take any extra steps in order to interact. This process also captures their information, and every logged in Twitter user gets added to your database, and has the opportunity to tweet their comment right from the site.
It’s important to remember that there is no single perfect social media plugin to fit every site’s needs. It really depends on where you prefer to have the buttons appear on your site, how many and which buttons you want, and your general design sensibility. You might find everything you want in one plugin, or you might use different elements of a handful of social plugins.
Relax and enjoy exploring your options. By nature, social media strategies are always a work in progress, so have fun with it.
What’s your favorite social media plugin for WordPress and why?