I was reading Brian Jackson's Okay Marketing recently. Brian consistently publishes great articles on his blog and I recommend you all subscribe. However, on this occasion, it was his blog design I was paying attention to.
Brian has done a great job of integrating reviews and social media into his blog design in a discrete way. In particular, I loved the way he integrated professional looking social media sharing buttons underneath articles. He advised me that this was powered by a WordPress plugin entitled Easy Social Share Buttons.
As you can see from the screenshot below, Brian has integrated the buttons just above his newsletter signup form.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Therefore, I decided to follow Brian's lead and try Easy Social Share Buttons. I had previously been using the social media buttons provided in Automattic's Jetpack plugin, but wanted something more stylish. Without doubt, they look better than the simple social media buttons I used previously.
It did not take me long to be convinced that I should purchase Easy Social Share Buttons. The plugin supports 18 major social media networks. This includes all major social media services and lesser known services such as Weibo, Odnoklassniki, and ManageWP.org.
There is also a more button, a love button, and an email sharing option. A print button is available too. In addition to sharing, 9 supported services also allow you let visitors like pages.
The plugin offers 12 different designs of buttons. Every template looks professional, but the most encouraging thing is that the developers of the plugin are introducing new designs with each update.
There are multiple styles available for each design. For sharing buttons, you can remove text, show text on hover, or display text at all times. 8 different styles of counters are available too.
Easy Social Share Buttons is very flexible when it comes to where you embed your social media sharing buttons. In total, it gives you 9 different ways to insert sharing buttons into your website, including above and below articles, popups, and sidebars.
The plugin also comes packaged with a widget that helps you display your following count on social media services. As noted previously, there are 8 different styles of counters available.
Statistics of shares can be displayed in the settings area. This helps you see what social media services visitors are using to share your articles. This is a fantastic feature as you can emphasise the services that are generating the most traffic.
Easy Social Share Buttons also lets you insert sharing buttons into your website using shortcodes. It supports five elements with the page builder plugin Visual Composer. It also has support for ecommerce plugins such as WooCommerce, WP e-Commerce and JigoShop. bbPress and BuddyPress are also supported.
All in all, Easy Social Share Buttons is one of the most flexible social media sharing plugins available to WordPress users.
The first thing that strikes you about Easy Social Share Buttons is how many configuration options it offers. The settings area is split into seven different tabs and most tabs contains several different sections. It can be a little daunting at first, however the plugin is very easy to set up. You can then go and tweak how the buttons are integrated into your website later.
Let's look closer at each of these setting tabs more closely.
In the main settings area you can choose the button design, choose the social networks that you are using, and change the order social networks are listed. Other features of the plugin, such as social media counters, social media likes, and statistics, can be configured here too. Advanced settings and custom messages can also be modified.
The display settings tab is all about where your social media sharing buttons are displayed. You can exclude your buttons from certain area of your website and change what is displayed on other areas of your website such as your sidebar or on mobile devices.
In the styling area you can customise the colour scheme of each social media button. Sizes can also be changed. Custom CSS can also be added to style buttons and counters further.
Shortcodes can be used to add unique social media sharing buttons to any page on your website. You could, for example, display Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons on one page and on another page you could display like buttons for several social media networks.
The click statistics tab highlights how many times an article has been shared using your sharing buttons. Over time, this will give you a good picture of how visitors are sharing your content.
Statistics for each article are also integrated into the WordPress post editor. Each social media service is displayed with a percentage and value of the total social media shares for that articles.
Setting up the plugin on your other website is easy as you can import and export your configuration settings. The import area also allows you to import default settings and a configuration for Mashable and UpWorthy style sharing buttons.
As long as you enter your license information, Easy Social Share Buttons can be updated automatically through the WordPress admin area.
The Configuration Wizard
I have only briefly touched upon all the configuration options that are available through the plugin. I always feel a little overwhelmed when a plugin throws so many options at me, however Easy Social Share Buttons has a few tricks up its sleeves.
Firstly, the plugin comes packaged with an easy mode. Activating easy mode will remove most of the advanced options. This will greatly the reduce the number of configuration options in every tab.
The second great option is the configuration wizard. Forget about the dozens of configuration options and forget about easy mode. The configuration wizard allows you to set the plugin up in the way you want in only seven steps.
I highly recommend setting up the plugin using the configuration wizard initially as it only takes a minute to set up. You can then tweak your settings later.
I have only been using Easy Social Share Buttons for a day, however I am really happy with it so far. I love the stylish button designs and I like the fact it displays the total number of shares for each post or page. The fact it tracks the number of shares too is a bonus.
My website validated with no errors after installing the plugin. My website speed on GTmetrix remains an A/A rating too. Though I didn't expect the overall page loading time of my website to increase significantly as I use WP Rocket to cache my pages (tip: remember to clear your cache after making any changes or the changes will not be applied).
The only thing that I have not been able to get working so far is the social media counter buttons that can be displayed in a widget area. For whatever reason, the text is displaying, but the images are not. I am still in the process of testing the plugin, therefore at this point I cannot say with conviction whether it is a bug or whether I have failed to configure the plugin correctly.
The developer has been updating the plugin regularly and offering support to all buyers. There is good documentation for the plugin too. I have no doubt that new features are going to be added over the next year.