With so many social sharing plugins available for WordPress it can be hard to know which one to choose. Some might look great and have lots of flashy features, but those animations and detailed graphics can come at a price, which often involves slowing down your site an increasing page load times; a sure fire way to annoy your readers and prevent them sticking around.
Other considerations to take into account when selecting a WordPress social share button plugin include which networks you want to cover, how you want the buttons to be displayed, and how much control you want over how the plugin is deployed on your site.To save you testing the wide range of options yourself, we’ve complied our list of the top five social sharing plugins for WordPress.
Floating Social Bar
This plugin was released by the WP Beginner team and was created to provide an alternative to the many other social sharing plugins for WordPress that can slow down site performance and increase load times.
The offending plugins that have a negative effect on site load times often load the social media scripts on every page load. However, the free Floating Social Bar plugin only loads the button scripts when the user moves their mouse over the social network icons, thus drastically cutting down the demands put on your site from each visitor.
Once installed, this plugin will display a floating horizontal row of buttons that are always on display, even as the user scrolls down the page, hence the name ‘floating social bar’. This is a great idea as at any point when your readers feel completed to share your content, the buttons are right there in front of them. Their constant visibility also ensures your readers are served a gentle reminder to share your content during their time on your site.
Some WordPress plugins that offer floating or sticky page elements often break the functionality of the PgUp (page up) and PgDn (page down) keyboard keys. If you use your keyboard to scroll then you will find that these floating elements cause you to miss a few sentences with each key press. However, I’m pleased to report that this isn’t a problem with the Floating Social Bar plugin.
In order to aid performance, this plugin only supports five social networks, but they are the most popular options:
If you want a plugin to help increase the number of times your content gets shared on the top social networks, then the free Floating Social Bar is a great choice.
Pros: places minimal demands on site performance, very easy to setup, can be set to non-floating, able to choose which content types show the plugin, can be turned off for individual pages.
Cons: only works with five social networks, cannot change the position of the bar.
This free social sharing plugin for WordPress is a great choice and one that I use on most of the sites I setup. Its main feature is a vertical floating social share bar that sits just to the left (or right) of your post content.
As it’s a floater, the buttons will always be there, ready to be clicked, should your reader decide they want to share your content. However, the plugin can also be configured to display the buttons in a fixed position at the beginning and/or end of your posts.
Another selling point of this plugin is the large number of social networks and sharing sites that are supported. Pretty much all the main networks can be found in the settings of this plugin including:
- Facebook Share
- Facebook Like
- Google +1
- Email & print
- Plus more
While the temptation might be there to enable the all the options in the hope of increasing the chances of getting your content shared, its best to just pick your top five networks or so, or the networks that best suit your content, such as Pinterest for image-heavy sites, and then see which ones your readers prefer to share your content on.
Too many options for your readers can cause confusion and there is also the impact on page load times to be considered. However, Digg Digg does support lazy loading to minimise the effect on site speed.
Pros: covers all the most well-known and not so well-known social networks, lots of options for positioning and layout, uses lazy load to avoid slowing down your site, support manual placement.
Cons: maybe too many options for some.
Jetpack is a plugin that allows self-hosted WordPress sites to get access to some of the features that WordPress.com sites can make use of. It was developed by Team Social, as documented into the riveting book: The Year Without Pants.
Part of Jetpack includes the ability to add sharing buttons to your posts and pages using the Publicize module. Once you’ve installed and activated Jetpack on your site, you can then activate the module from the plugin settings page. There is a good amount of settings available and you can choose which networks to display buttons for and also customise how the buttons will look.
Pros: lots of features more beyond just sharing, good level of settings for configuring the social options.
Cons: not the best looking or flexible share buttons available, requires a (free) WordPress.com account, includes lots of other features you might not need.
Pinterest Pin It Pro
This is a premium plugin that is prefect for those of you with lots of shareable photos, graphics and other images on your site. This plugin allows you to display a Pin It button over your images. The button can be either permanently visible or only displayed when the user’s mouse cursor hovers over an image.
It’s a great way to help your visual content get shared and even go viral on the Pinterest network. It also works with WooCommerce, allowing you to make your product images easily shareable for even more exposure and hopefully increased sales.
The plugin also allows you to display social sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter and more networks, so you can use this plugin for all your social sharing needs. There are lots of settings here which allow you to configure how the plugin works and it’s been tested for compatibility with many popular WordPress themes.
There is a 30-day money back guarantee so you can give it a try with your setup to see how it works and also how many of your images get shared.
Pros: excellent support for Pinterest including hover or fixed Pin It buttons, many buttons styles to choose from or upload your own, support for other social networks, lots of settings and a low price.
Cons: isn’t free, mainly focused on Pinterest.
Social Media Widget
This is another free option that I like to use on my sites in conjunction with a share bar. This plugin allows you to easily display icons in your sidebar which link to your profiles on the various social networks.
While the other plugins covered here allow you to share the content, this one is a good choice for directing people to your profiles on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, in order to increase your followers.
Social Media Widget is very easy to setup. Simply drop the widget onto your sidebar and then enter the URLs for your pages or profiles on the networks you want to link to. The icons look really good and there are a few different styles to choose from.
Pros: simple and elegant way to display icons for your profiles on various social networks.
Cons: not strictly a social sharing plugin and is focused on getting followers rather than shares.
The five plugins here represent the best social sharing plugins for WordPress, but there are countless others available. It’s hard to single out just one option as it really depends on what your goals are in terms of social sharing and what type of site you are building.
One thing we have noticed is that nearly all the plugins available in this field do not include a share button for the new ManageWP.org WordPress content sharing service. For anyone looking for WordPress related information, this social sharing site has quickly become an invaluable hub for finding the hottest and newest content covering this platform. With that in mind, it would be great if the developers of these social sharing plugins could add the ManageWP.org button, the code for which can be found here.
For those building a site with good amounts of quality images then the Pinterest Pin It Pro plugin is a great option thanks to how easy it makes it for users to share or pin individual photos on your site. If you are worried about performance overheads, and don’t mind only being able to display buttons for the top five social networks, then Floating Social Bar is the best bet. For those with other priorities Digg Digg might be a better choice.
For anyone looking to make it very easy for your readers to find you on the social networks, then installing Social Media Widget is a good idea.