You blog. You use WordPress to blog. You want users to share your content.
So far so good. However, if the content is to be shared, it has to look swell. That’s where social media plugins come in. They give you control over the way your content looks in social networks—and search engines as well – and make the content much more ‘shareable’ without much extra effort on your part.
We’ll be looking at some five WordPress social media plugins in detail, starting from the very generic and zooming in on the specifics later on.
1. WordPress SEO by Yoast
By far the most popular WordPress SEO plugin out there, Yoast also boasts a number of impressive social features that make it a no-brainer if you’re looking for a generic yet powerful package for improving the way your website interacts with social media and especially search engines. It’s used by Mashable and The Next Web… just so you know.
What it Does: A lot of things. Used for optimizing the whole website. Social features include Facebook Open Graph metadata integration; Twitter Card integration and adding Google+ post metadata.
Good For: Controlling the way your website interacts with search engines as well as the three largest social websites. Good descriptions encourage shares and clicks.
2. NextGEN Facebook (NGFB)
NextGEN Facebook is, not quite truly to its name, compatible with more networks than Facebook—many more, in fact. This up-and-coming social media plugin helps optimizing your content for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and other social websites, providing a similar but much more comprehensive social media package than Yoast, with which NextGEN Facebook can be used in conjunction.
What it Does: Drastically improves the look and feel of your content on social media. Validates image dimensions so that they fit the respective websites; adds author profiles to FB & Google Search; adds social sharing buttons; and so on.
Good For: An all-in-one-package for making your content look juicy on social media.
ShareThis is another wildly popular WordPress plugin that’s used for adding up to 120 social channels for your users to share content on. Now it’s true that ShareThis has come under quite a lot of flak in reviews, but most of it is undeserved. ShareThis is a perfectly good plugin—I’ve tested it on my websites.
What it Does: Adds social media buttons—large, small, with or without share counters—to your posts. Can also be used to add a social media hover bar to the website. It can also auto-post to social media profiles. As if that’s not enough, ShareThis comes equipped with a metrics dashboard too, but registration is required for this feature.
Good For: Adding social functionality in bulk; auto-posting; adding a hover bar (just loving it!) and sharing buttons. Encourages users to share your content.
4. JM Twitter Cards
One of the few plugins endorsed by the official Twitter CMS integration guide, JM Twitter Cards is a wonderful little plugin that turns your Twitter shares from boring blobs of text that look like spam into multimedia juggernauts, sporting rich content and lavish descriptions.
What it Does: Incorporates rich media into tweets that share your content. JM Twitter Cards comes equipped with many options, such as adding descriptions, videos and images of shared links. As you can see JM Twitter cards shows the author of the tweet, but also encourages visiting the profile of the article’s author.
Good For: Bringing users to your website via interactive means. In addition, it shows your Twitter profile when links from your website are shared, encouraging users to follow you.
5. Official Facebook Plugin
The official Facebook plugin for WordPress, this is the first choice if Facebook is your number one priority. It allows for better integration of Facebook, featuring a lot of options that provide a better experience for Facebook users on your website.
What it Does: Allows publishing posts to your Facebook page or timeline automatically. Makes content more readable not only for Facebook but also for G+, Twitter & others. Adds Facebook interaction buttons and comments. The most useful feature is perhaps Facebook Insights that provides rich tracking features for your Facebook content.
Good For: Facebook integration (duh!) and tracking FB visitor data. Also works for optimizing other social websites’ content.
WordPress Social Media Plugin Wrap-up
We’ve looked at a few social media plugins for WordPress in detail, covering general use plugins like Yoast and NextGEN Facebook, sharing plugins like ShareThis, as well as two plugins useful for the social networks they cover (Twitter & Facebook). They help integrating social media in your WordPress website and make shared content look better, encouraging likes, shares, retweets & other ways of interaction.
Do you use any of these social WP plugins? Or ones that that weren’t listed? How do you like them? Let us know below.