Selene M. Bowlby, owner of iDesign Studios, is a web designer and front-end web developer with over ten years of professional experience in the design industry. Follow her on Twitter.
There’s no escaping social media — whether it’s for the promotion of your product, service or blog, or even just for fun, it is impossible to deny the staying power of this fairly new medium. Because WordPress is such a popular blogging platform and content management system, and has such a healthy developer ecosystem, it should come as no surprise that there are countless plugins available to help integrate your social networking efforts with your WordPress () driven site.
While it’s important promote your blog posts with social bookmarking, it is equally important to promote and link to your actual profiles, as well. The following WordPress plugins are just a few of the options available to help you accomplish this. If we haven’t covered your favorite WordPress social media plugins, please leave links to them in the comments.
Your Social Profiles
The most basic way to promote your social media profiles is through the use of simple text or image links pointing to your most frequently used social networks. Of course, you can do this manually with some basic HTML, but there are many plugins that will help automate the process for you, and more easily keep things up-to-date if you add, remove, or change profile information.
1. DandyID Services – With approximately 330 social networks supported, the DandyID Services plugin is one of the most extensive available. If you’re a social butterfly, you can bet that you’ll find just about any social network imaginable available through the plugin. You’ll first need to create a free account with DandyID, then configure the sidebar widget which gives you several options, such as whether to display favicons only, text links only, or a combination of both.
2. Social Media Page – Rather than just including all your social media links in the sidebar by default, the Social Media Page plugin, which supports approximately 140 social networks, allows you to include your social profiles on any page or post with a simple line of code. This is ideal if you want to link out to your profiles, without cluttering up your sidebar with lots of icons.
3. Social Profilr – With only 14 social networks to choose from, the Social Profilr plugin is far from all inclusive, however it has a nice twist. Most of these plugins only allow for the actual profile links. Social Profilr steps it up a notch by also letting you include a line of text (with or without HTML) as a brief introduction. In essence, you can turn this into a brief “About Me” or “About the Blog ()” blurb with a link to your full WordPress “About” page. This appears above your social profile icons, which can be displayed in either vertical, horizontal or dropdown format.
Lifestreaming takes the basic social media profile links a step further by displaying your social activity right on your web site. The plugins below all have about the same total number of available social networks to choose from – approximately 60, give or take a few – so your best bet would be to look at the specific services offered to be sure your favorites are included.
4. FriendFeed Activity Widget – FriendFeed () is perhaps the most popular lifestreaming service around today, which makes their plugin a convenient one to use! All you need is a FriendFeed account in order to use this sidebar widget, which is set up by simply entering in your login information and selecting the number of events to display. What’s particularly nice about this plugin is that you are given the option to hide Twitter () @replies, which can be confusing when seen out of context. This plugin also offers the most minimalistic design, which is a benefit, considering the amount of information being streamed onto your sidebar.
5. Lifestream – More independent than the other options listed here, the Lifestream plugin doesn’t require a third party account in order to stream your social activity. Although out of the box, this plugin doesn’t have the best design (it’s more cluttered than the other two), its biggest benefit is that it gives you the option of being utilized as either a sidebar widget, or on a separate page/post of its own. Like the FriendFeed widget, it gives you the option of hiding Twitter @replies from your stream, too.
6. Lifestream.fm – Of the plugins listed here, Lifestream.fm currently offers the largest number of social networking services that you can stream onto your site. It does require an account with Lifestream.fm, but once you’ve signed up, setting up the sidebar widget is a simple task. The design is nicer than that of the Lifestream plugin, but the downside to this one is that it displays all of your Tweets, including @replies.
And let’s not forget your blog commenters. While you obviously want to promote your own social profiles, you can share the love by helping your commenters promote their profiles, as well. Of course, you’ll also receive the benefits when you respond to comments on your blog, too.
7. Retaggr () – With more than 180 social networks to choose from, Retaggr is another great option for promoting your social profiles. This particular plugin is somewhat limiting, in that commenters need to have a Retaggr account in order for them to receive the extra link love from your site. But if they do, the plugin places a tiny icon next to their comment. Rolling your mouse over the icon pops up their profile information including their name and social media links.
8. Social Profiles – The Social Profiles plugin is ideal for sites with registered users and/or multi-authored blogs. It serves as an incentive for people to register or write for your blog, by promoting their social profiles along with their comments. This plugin adds fields for users to enter their usernames for up to 10 social networks. If you happen to know your way around PHP (), you can add additional networks to the list, as well. When registered users comment on your blog, it displays links to their profiles as either text or image links, helping their comments to stand out from those of non-registered commenters.
9. WP Twitip ID – The WP Twitip ID is a Twitter specific plugin, but with the service’s popularity, this is likely the most universal plugin to include with your comment form. It doesn’t require anything from your commenters, other than an existing Twitter account. With an extra line of code in your comments template file, this plugin adds a field for users to enter their Twitter username, which is automatically linked to their Twitter URL, alongside their name and comment.
While most social networking plugins either help you promote your blog posts OR your social media profiles, the following plugin does both.
10. Tweetmeme () – Similar to the Digg () style “vote” buttons, the Tweetmeme plugin creates a button that lets readers easily retweet your blog posts. By default, it begins tweets with “RT @tweetmeme …” along with your post title and URL. However, you can update the settings to list your Twitter username, changing the tweet to “RT @YourTwitterIDHere … (via @tweetmeme)” – letting people on Twitter not only view your post, but see your Twitter ID, as well. Additional options for this plugin let you select the position and size of the button, as well as giving you the ability to display it on your RSS feed.