Social media has, without a doubt, revolutionised the way internet users share information online. When I first started blogging, it was common for readers to subscribe to blogs using RSS. Nowadays, however, it’s more common for people to follow a business or publication on Twitter or Facebook to be notified of new content.
Social media has become such an integral part of the internet that, for the majority of websites, it’s their second highest source of traffic!
As a website owner, you can take advantages of these changes by making it as easy as possible for people to share your content, which means including social media buttons on your website.
Let’s take a look at five of the very best free and premium WordPress plugins for displaying social media sharing bars and buttons on WordPress posts and pages.
A Quick Word About Using WordPress Social Media Plugins
Whenever you activate a new WordPress plugin, you generally increase the total size of your web pages, which, in turn, increases page loading times.
The significance of this increase can, of course, be reduced by optimising your website with a WordPress caching plugin and using a content delivery network to distribute static copies of your website around the world.
However, you should be aware that WordPress social media plugins can be particularly detrimental to website performance.
My advice is to test the speed of your website initially using benchmarking services, such as GTmetrix and Pingdom’s Website Speed Test, and then run the tests again after you’ve installed a social media plugin. This will help you to see if the plugin has affected performance negatively.
Displaying the number of shares or likes a post has garnered showcases the popularity of an article and encourage others to share it too, although be aware that displaying the official social media share count of a page can increase page loading times significantly if it calculates counts by making API requests to external websites.
Certain social media buttons and icon styles can further slow down a page too, so play around with the plugin settings to get a good balance between style and performance.
1. Monarch — Part of Elegant Themes Membership
Monarch is a user-friendly solution that allows you to display gorgeous social media sharing buttons that can be displayed in a number of ways, including above and below content, as a floating sidebar, as an automatic pop-up, embedded into images and videos, or in a fly-in box that slides onto the page.
More than 20 social media networks are supported, and there are many customisation options that let you define when the pop-up or fly-in sharing boxes are displayed. For example, you can display sharing buttons after a user has left a comment on an article or purchased an item from your store, or after they’ve scrolled to a certain point on the page.
Elegant Themes hasn’t changed Monarch much since it was first released. It’s still actively updated to address bugs, but it’s bizarre that social media networks such as Google+ are still supported, despite being discontinued years ago.
Monarch is included as part of Elegant Themes’ membership, which retails at $87 a year or as a one-off fee of $249.
2. Easy Social Share Buttons — $20
Easy Social Share Buttons has continually been improved and refined since its launch in 2013, which has helped it to retain the title of the best-selling social media plugin on CodeCanyon, where it retails for an affordable $22.
The plugin supports more than 50 social media networks and allows you to display sharing buttons automatically in more than 30 positions. Many of the positions, such as pop-ups, fly-ins and floating bars, can be triggered by events such as time spent on page, purchasing an item or percent of the page that’s been scrolled.
Easy Social Share Buttons is also one of the only sharing solutions that supports newer social media networks such as Tik Tok and Snapchat.
The plugin has been ‘Performance Approved’ by the caching WordPress plugin WP Rocket (review), which highlights how well regarded it is for being optimised and not affecting website performance.
The versatility of Easy Social Share Buttons and the number of beautiful buttons that are available to users makes it an easy solution to recommend.
3. Jetpack — FREE
If you’re looking for a simple social media sharing solution, you may want to check out the sharing module within Automattic’s Jetpack plugin. It has more than 5 million active installations, so you may even have the plugin activated already. However, those of you who have never used Jetpack should be aware that you need an active WordPress.com account to use it.
The sharing module allows you to display simple sharing buttons for Twitter, Facebook, Pocket, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, LinkedIn, Telegram, WhatsApp and Skype, and email and print buttons are available too.
You can choose to display official sharing buttons or use icons with text, icons only or text only. I’d advise against selecting the official social media sharing buttons, as these will slow your page loading times significantly.
Jetpack also lets you choose what post types sharing buttons are published on across your website.
Jetpack is a simple social media sharing solution with few customisation options, but it integrates under your content seamlessly and looks good under articles. Additionally, if you display sharing links via text only, Jetpack adds no additional weight to your page.
7. Ultimate Social Media Icons
If you’re looking to display social media sharing buttons using icons, you may want to consider Ultimate Social Media Icons. The plugin does things a little differently by placing all configuration options in one big plugin settings page, guiding you through a total of eight steps.
In the first three steps, you can select the social media networks you want to display, customise them and then choose where they’re shown. You can display icons in a floating bar, via a shortcode, through a widget, in your theme header and after blog posts.
I didn’t find Ultimate Social Media Icons’s setting page to be as user-friendly as the developers had perhaps planned, but, if you go through each step, you’ll find many customisation options.
The next five steps are optional. You can select the design of your icons, choose whether you want to display counts and make changes to the icon designs. The last two steps ask if you want to display subscription opt-in forms to increase sign ups.
While more than a dozen social media networks are supported in the free version of Ultimate Social Media Icons, USM Premium adds support for hundreds more. It also adds more icon designs, animated icons and improved control over where social media sharing buttons are displayed.
The premium version of Ultimate Social Media Icons is available for a one-off fee of $29.98, and comes with six months of support.
While the premium version of Ultimate Social Media Icons is fairly priced, I believe most WordPress users will be happy with the free version as it supports so many popular social media networks.
SocialSnap is another solution that bills itself as ‘The Ultimate WordPress Social Media Plugin’ and packs many great features to back up this claim. It has a user-friendly interface where settings are displayed on the left-hand side and a live preview is displayed on the right.
The free version of SocialSnap allows you to publish social media sharing buttons on images, above and below content using inline buttons, and to the left and right of content using a floating bar. Seven sharing buttons are available, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Mix, email, print and copy link. You can also promote up to six social media profiles using SocialSnap, and there’s a useful ‘Click to Tweet’ tool for embedding tweets in content.
The sharing buttons are available in four designs and three sizes. The total number of shares can be displayed too, and you can choose to only display the buttons on posts, pages, archives and more.
The pro version of SocialSnap greatly enhances the number of features and options that are available to you. It increases the number of social media sharing networks to 34 and social media follow networks to 40.
It also adds Google Analytics integration, URL shortening, page view counting and advanced statistics. The higher-tiered premium plans also add support for social media logins, auto posting new content to social media networks and a booster feature that automatically promotes old articles.
SocialSnap Pro retails at $39 a year for a one-website license, $99 a year for a three-website license and $299 a year for a 15-website license. The developers frequently reduce these prices with up to 30% discounts, reducing the entry-level price of SocialSnap Pro to only $27.30.
SocialSnap is undoubtedly one of the best-looking social media sharing solutions on the market. The free version is a fantastic plugin in its own right, but if you upgrade to SocialSnap Pro you’ll unlock a host of tools that’ll help you to increase social media traffic to your website.
When it comes to social media sharing, everyone has different views on what’s good and what’s not. For this reason, I’d encourage you to test out a few of the options listed above, and, in the case of premium solutions, review the demos of each one thoroughly.
Shop around and pay attention to where the plugin lets you display sharing buttons within posts and pages, the styles that are available, and the social media sharing networks that are included. Ideally, you want to choose a solution that supports your preferred networks, integrates well with the design of your website and doesn’t negatively affect your website performance.