Social media has, without a doubt, revolutionized 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 subscribe to a website’s Twitter or Facebook page 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 ten of the very best plugins (including free and premium options) for displaying social media sharing bars and buttons on WordPress posts and pages…
A Quick Word About Using Social Media WordPress Plugins
Whenever you activate a new WordPress plugin, you generally increase the total size of your web pages — and therefore increase 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.
You should, however, be aware that social media WordPress 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 any social media plugin.
Displaying the number of Twitter shares or Facebook likes a page has garnered showcases the popularity of an article, but be aware that displaying the official social media share count of a page also increases page loading times. Certain social media buttons and icon styles can further slow down a page, 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. Sharing buttons can be displayed above and below content, as a floating sidebar or as an automatic pop-up, or embedded into images and videos, or in a fly-in box that slides onto the page. Here’s a whole heap of live examples to check out!
Over 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.
Monarch is included as part of Elegant Themes membership. Their membership retails at $87 per year, or as a one-off fee of $249. Signing up will not only let you download Monarch, but give you access to 87 premium WordPress themes, their email opt-in plugin Bloom and their page builder plugin Divi. It’s fantastic value for money.
2. Easy Social Share Buttons — $20
Easy Social Share Buttons has continually been refined since its launch in 2013. This has helped it to retain the title of the best-selling social media plugin on CodeCanyon, where it retails for an affordable $20.
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 has been scrolled.
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. Social Warfare — FREE/$29
Six social media networks are supported in the free version: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon. Sharing buttons can be displayed above the content area, below the content area, or both.
The plugin includes a ‘popular posts’ WordPress widget that lists articles with thumbnails according to the number of times they’ve been shared on social media.
The pro version of Social Warfare adds support for several more social media networks, a pin button for images, and the ability to customise how your content is displayed using the Open Graph protocol.
A pro license costs $29 for a single website, $89 for up to five websites, $139 for up to ten websites and $349 for an unlimited number of websites.
4. 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.
The sharing module allows you to display simple sharing buttons for most of the popular social media networks. You can choose to display icons with text, icons only or text only, or the official sharing buttons. I would advise against selecting the official social media sharing buttons as it will slow your pages down significantly.
Jetpack has few customisation options, but it integrates under your content seamlessly and looks good under articles (in my opinion).
Additionally, if you display sharing links via text only, Jetpack adds no additional weight to your page.
5. Social Pug — FREE/$29
Social Pug is a great-looking social media solution that lets you display round, rectangular or circular buttons.
The free version of the plugin supports five social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. These buttons can be displayed above and below your content area, or as a floating sidebar on the left or right-hand side of your page.
Upgrading to the pro version of Social Pug adds 11 more sharing networks, as well as options such as email and print. It also lets you customise what’s shared by readers, and the ‘Click to Tweet’ feature helps you to create quotable and shareable content.
The pro version also adds an option to display sharing buttons via a pop-up, which can be triggered by a number of different events. There’s also a sticky social media bar for mobile users, and support for Google Analytics and Bitly.
A license for the pro version retails at $29 for one website, $59 for up to five websites, and $129 for an unlimited number of websites.
6. Swifty Bar — FREE
If you want something a little different, you may want to consider Swifty Bar.
The plugin displays a bar at the bottom of pages. The bar shows the post category, the post title, the post author and the estimated time to read the article. This estimation is based on how many words per minute you believe visitors will read (the value can be adjusted in the settings area).
On the right side of the bar are social media sharing buttons for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest. There are also post navigation buttons at the end that let visitors quickly jump to other articles, which should help encourage visitors to stay on your website for longer.
The blue line at the top of the Swifty Bar shows the progress that the visitor has made on the page. This helps them to see how much of the article they’ve read.
Swifty Bar looks good on mobile devices too, and in the settings area you can change the text that’s used in the bar, and enable and disable the social media networks that are offered to visitors.
If you’re looking for a lightweight solution that gives visitors many options, I recommend checking it out.
7. Ultimate Social — $20
Available from CodeCanyon for $20, Ultimate Social, formerly known as Ultimate Social Deux, is a stylish social media solution that features eight different button styles and color customisation options.
Social media sharing buttons can be displayed above and below content. Alternatively, you can float sharing buttons on the left-hand side of the page or at the top of the page.
You can also integrate buttons using shortcodes or WordPress widgets. A mobile bar can be displayed on mobile devices too.
With support for over 25 social media networks, a ton of styling configuration options, and integration with Google Analytics, Ultimate Social is one you should check out.
8. Kiwi Social Share — FREE/$29
Kiwi Social Share is an interesting social media solution that lets you display sharing buttons above and below content, or as a floating bar on the left-hand side, right-hand side, or at the bottom of your page.
The free version of the plugin supports Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and Flint.
There are a few different button shapes available, however it’s not the most customisable social media solution available from a design point of view. The plugin does have Google Analytics support and features custom metaboxes, click to tweet, tweet selected text and a shortcode manager.
Kiwi Social Share actually delivers most of its features in the free version of the plugin, although the pro version does allow you to enable sharing features for different post types. It also adds support for Reddit, Email, Telegram, WhatsApp, Skype and Mix. Perhaps more importantly, it adds more button colors and customisation options for buttons — something that’s quite limited in the free version.
A single license for Kiwi Social Share Pro costs $29. Their extended license at $79 allows usage on up to three websites and grants access to all Macho Themes WordPress designs. The full membership license at $99 removes website usage restrictions.
9. Social Sharing by Danny — FREE
If you want something lightweight and simple, have a look at Social Sharing by Danny. The plugin can display basic social media sharing buttons at the end of posts, pages and media.
Social Sharing by Danny is the perfect choice for anyone who wants a simple social media sharing solution that doesn’t slow down their pages.
10. Simple Social Buttons — FREE/$19
The final social media sharing solution in our top ten list is Simple Social Buttons.
The plugin has support for over a dozen social media networks. Buttons can be displayed above and below content, and as a floating bar at the side of the page.
Several button icon designs are available, and you can select whether buttons are displayed in categories, archives, tag pages and search result pages. You can also filter using post types.
The premium version of Simple Social Buttons adds functionality for displaying sharing buttons in pop-ups, in media and in fly-in boxes. Color customisation options are also made available.
A license for Social Share Buttons Pro costs $19 for one website and $99 for up to ten websites. The developer license retails at $199 and allows you to use the plugin on as many websites as you wish.
There are thousands of social media sharing plugins available for WordPress. Many of these plugins were eliminated from our list because they were outdated or no longer supported, while others were removed when we tested them and found errors.
As you would expect, when you curate a list of the best ten, many good solutions unfortunately do not make the final cut for one reason or another. For example, in many instances this is because the functionality being offered was similar to another solution in our top ten.
Some additional plugins to check out (if — for whatever reason — none of the above suits your exact needs):
- Sassy Social Share
- Social Media Share Buttons & Social Sharing Icons
- AddToAny Share Buttons
- Custom Share Buttons with Floating Sidebar
- Social Media Flying Icons
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.
For many years, I switched between Jetpack and Social Sharing by Danny on my own blog. I love the simplicity and minimalism of these plugins and the fact they do not add much load time to website pages.
Over the last few years I have switched between Easy Social Share Buttons for WordPress and Elegant Theme’s Monarch plugin, but I’m always open to the idea of changing my social media sharing button setup when better solutions come along — and you should be too.
Using any of these? Which would you say is the best? Any you dislike? Any favorites?