Social networks and their icons are indelibly printed on our visual memory.
If you’re a business owner or publisher with a website or blog, you cannot ignore the importance of social media. You might spend hours working on an article, but it will not be of much use if no-one reads it.
Social media is the most effective medium for taking your voice to your readers and customers. In this post, I’ll discuss the most effective ways to integrate social media features into your WordPress website to widen your reach and gather a worldwide following.
WordPress is perhaps the most popular content management system or CMS. You can easily customize it to create professional business websites, online stores or boutiques, newspaper or magazine sites – the sky is the limit.
The look and feel of a WordPress site generally depends on your theme, but there is another powerful component – the plugin! A plugin is an external piece of software that works in the background to enhance your site.
So let’s hunker down and have a look at how these top 8 plugins will help you distribute your content. They are all free.
This is my favorite one for adding share buttons to posts and pages. You might have seen this attractive plugin urging you to share with messages like ‘Sharing is sexy’, ‘Share the wealth’ etc. There is a slight animation built in when you move your mouse over the icons. This plugin gives you a whopping 80+ networks to choose from. You can choose the ‘sexy bar’ or other classic versions. You can even choose to add Like and Follow buttons below the bar, add share counters, and place it both above and below the content as you want.
Shareaholic also provides analytics and can be integrated into your Google Analytics too. Isn’t it time you checked it out?
The floating vertical bar is quite popular nowadays. Sharebar allows you to choose the networks you want and the size or look and feel of the button. It has counters for the number of shares, and moves along with the page, so no matter where the reader scrolls, the share buttons are always in front of them, urging them to share.
3. Tweet Old Post
As the name suggests, this plugin allows you to tweet about your old posts so that you keep attracting new readers. Whether you have 20 posts on your blog, or 50 or 100, this plugin tweets their title and link one by one at a designated interval. I have had many Retweets and visits to my blog thanks to this plugin.
You can specify the interval between tweets – every 2 or 4 hours, you can exclude certain categories, and even customize the text of the tweets. If you are not using this plugin yet, just download it and give it a try.
This is a good way to encourage people to comment on your posts. When readers leave a comment, CommentLuv goes to the their website and extracts their latest posts, then adds a link to it. This gives them an opportunity to advertise their content too, sharing some ‘luv’.
Everyone who read the comments on your post also sees the title and link of the commenters’ blog post, and will surely click on it if they find it interesting. They will also be motivated to leave a comment of their own, since they see an actual example of how this works.
Here’s the Comments screen with the plugin showing the commenter’s recent posts. Now the commenter can choose which one to display below their comment. In the image, I have chosen the ‘Falafel’ post to be displayed as a link.
5. Social Media Tabs
Many bloggers add their Twitter feed or Facebook updates feed in their sidebar. This plugin shows your activity on a social network right on your blog, spurring people to follow your feed. Social Media Tabs is the granddaddy of them all. It allows you to choose multiple networks and adds tabs for each of them. The reader can click on each tab to see the feed from that network. The tabs can be set to a timer and auto-slide so that the readers will see feeds from various networks as they read your page or post.
There are several settings you can configure such as position of the bar, dimensions, slide speed, alignment etc. Networks you can choose from are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, RSS, Google+, Pinterest and Flickr. Social Media Tabs is a great addition to your sidebar, especially when you are active on several social networks.
6. About the Author Advanced
Author boxes are a great way to highlight the writer’s bio. High-end themes like Thesis allow adding author boxes at the bottom of each post. About the Author is a newer plugin that adds an author box to the sidebar widget area. This is great to highlight author information on every post or page. It is also very effective when you have more than one author contributing.
This plugin offers several good options. The author’s photo can be pulled from their Gravatar image. You can choose the format of the name to be displayed – just a first name, or last name etc. Other fields such as company, title, email, phone, social media etc. can be added by choice. You can even choose the labels that appear for various fields like email, phone etc.
Social media icons are displayed below the bio making it easy for your readers to connect to the author via social networks. This is a highly effective way to get your readers to connect with your authors (who will be connected to you) on various social networks.
7. Share and Get it
This plugin helps you build a following on Twitter as well as Facebook. The Tweet2download plugin is quite popular nowadays as a way to offer a gift to your readers and ask them to tweet about it before they can download it. The first time I encountered this, it was for an eBook promoted as a free download. The banner said ‘no email needed’ and when I went to the actual page, I was asked to send one tweet before I could download the eBook.
The Share & Get It plugin asks the reader to choose between Twitter and Facebook. The tweet or Facebook share message is configured by the blog owner. There is also a Like or Follow button that the reader needs to click before the download begins.
This is a great way to reach a wide audience, especially people who are reluctant to put their email into a ‘subscribe’ box. You are also giving the reader a choice between Twitter and Facebook, two of the most popular social networks. And you not only get your message shared across the reader’s network, you also get a new Twitter follower or Like on your Facebook page.
You can configure numerous buttons, and place them on any page or even within your posts. The only catch is that you will have to come up with a freebie that really helps your readers.
8. WP Pinterest
This plugin offers much more than just a link to your Pinterest account. You can actually display your board in your website’s sidebar. You can pick the number of columns and the number of pins you want to display, and choose to display it on posts as well as pages. But you need at least 10 pins on your Pinterest board for the plugin to work!
The plugin also offers Pinterest follow buttons that you can add before and after your post. Pinterest may be very popular for brands, but whatever your area of business, it offers an attractive visual aid to help tell your story. This is a must-have in your sidebar.
That completes my list for today. Are these the only social media plugins out there? Of course not! And more plugins are developed every day, as we speak.
But these 8 have been tried and tested by us, and we use them across our blogs and websites. Let’s just say we find these to be feature rich, and we have received many hits on our website, Twitter mentions and Retweets, repins, Facebook Likes etc. from using them.
I guarantee that using even one of these will improve the aesthetics of your website, and will widen your reach. A combination of several can give even better results.
I am eager to know what you think of them. Are you plugin shy, or do you already have many plugins on your site? Are you already using some of the plugins given above?
Have you downloaded any based on this post, and taken them for a trial run? Your comments and feedback are much appreciated and will certainly help all our readers. You can also read The RightMixTech Daily for technology tips for small business. And if you have any doubts or questions, I am here to answer them.
Main image Khalid Albaih of flickr