Thanks to the growing list of blogs using the WordPress framework, it is becoming very easy to build a good looking blog and start expressing your arguments (and rants) to the whole world. However, not everyone is as tech savvy as some “behind the scenes” operations require, and sometimes you happen to stumble upon blogs lacking some plugin love.
For example, I love to retweet good articles after I commented on them, and I really like doing it the simple way, hitting the Twitter/Tweetmeme button and letting it handle that. But what to do when a blog doesn’t have a Twitter button? Or no Digg/StumbleUpon sharing?
Mind you, I will still do it by hand, after all if I took the time to comment on a good post, I can spend 30 more seconds sharing it. But wouldn’t it be awesome if those plugins actually were there in first place?
Recently I have been giving some suggestion on the matter to two blog owners, and please don’t think I am saying this in an arrogant way, I really do like to help out if I have the knowledge to do so, so I just thought “why not” and I suggested them to use this and that plugin to make things funkier.
However, and I can’t blame them, they didn’t have the technical knowledge to make those changes, so I helped them with a couple of screenshots and a detailed email. All went fine, and that’s why I am writing this post to suggest 4 very simple plugins that will really make your blog more share-friendly.
And I’ll do it in under 1000 words.
I love this one, it practically puts a floating, Mashable-like bar on the left of your blog posts (like the one in this post) with a configurable list of social networks to include.
Installation: go to your plugin administration area, click the Add New button on top of the page, and search for “GetSocial”. Then, Install.
Configuration: select GetSocial from your administration page, it should be near the bottom of the menu.
Basically, the important options reside in the Social Media Buttons section. That’s the core of the plugin, just select the services you want to include in your box. Remember that if you choose to include Twitter or Tweetmeme you can specify a Twitter ID to include in the RT.
This plugin will put a Tweetmeme button on your blog posts/pages. I chose to include this in addition to the one in the GetSocial box just to be safe.
Why Tweetmeme over the Twitter button? Mainly because it allows me to use the Bit.ly shortener (with stats) over the T.co Twitter’s one.
Installation: go to your plugin administration area, click the Add New button on top of the page, and search for “TweetMeme Button”. Then, Install, it should be the first of the list.
Configuration: select Tweetmeme from your administration page, it should be near to the bottom of the menu.
The important options are two: Source lets you specify a Twitter ID to mention in the RT, while URL Shortener (and API key) will let you select your favorite shortener along with an API key in order to associate the shortened link to your shortener’s account (like with Bit.ly, for example).
Nice name uh? Jokes apart, I love the looks of this plugin, with the hand-written logo and beautifully crafted icons hiding on mouse over (you can see them at the end of this post).
Installation: go to your plugin administration area, click the Add New button on top of the page, and search for “SexyBookmarks”. Then, Install, it should be the first of the list.
Configuration: select SexyBookmarks from your administration page, inside the Settings menu.
It’s just a matter of selecting the services you want to include, activating them by clicking on the corresponding checkbox and dragging them around to customize the visualization order. All the rest can be left alone, unless you want to customize things even further. If so, just experiment, it’s very easy and you won’t break anything, guaranteed.
4. Facebook Like Button
It adds a simple Like button on the bottom of each of your posts.
Installation: go to your plugin administration area, click the Add New button on top of the page, and search for “Facebook Like Button”. Then, Install, there are many of it, but go for the one called exactly “Facebook Like Button”.
Configuration: I actually didn’t configure it at all, but if you want, there’s a “Facebook Like” menu panel at the bottom of the administration area’s menu.
Differentiate your networks
Since there are tons of plugins, each adding support for a certain number of social networks, why, as an example, I included both SexyBookmarks and GetSocial?
Well, I like to differentiate a bit.
In GetSocial, for example, I included Tweetmeme, Facebook Share and StumbleUpon. That’s the bar always visible everywhere in the post, so include only the services you really want to push forward.
In SexyBookmarks I included Digg, Delicious, Linkedin, BlogEngage, FriendsFeed, Facebook Share, Google Buzz and StumbleUpon.
After all, remember:
- include services you believe in, especially those you already have a social presence in, but don’t exaggerate. Nobody likes to see a HUGE list of buttons
- don’t be afraid to duplicate services between plugins, after all one visitor might be used to click on SexyBookmarks icons, another user on GetSocial ones, you never know
- don’t use more than 2 plugins to “aggregate” services, there really is no use, and it will slow down your loading speed considerably!
Sharing is fun
That’s about it, I kept the list short and the howto to the minimum, so please, if you need any other explanation, feel free to ask in the Comments below.
Do you have any additional “social sharing” plugin you would like to recommend?