Social media isn’t going away. Yes, it’s a time suck, and yes, it’s hard to measure the ROI (return on investment). But if you’re going to attract an audience to your site, you need to use it. You’ll save yourself a lot of time if you integrate social media with your site.

Recently I asked my email readers to respond to a survey about social media — I wanted to find out where you’re hanging out online. (You can still respond — it’s only three questions.)

At this point, it’s no surprise that Facebook is what most of you use (70%!) for personal social.

For business, the majority (60%) spends time on LinkedIn, followed by Facebook (20%), with Pinterest and Instagram tied at 10% each.

So far, no surprises.

What did surprise me was your responses to the question, “On which social media platform do you spend the most time?”

Facebook led (no surprise there, at 60%), but Instagram came next (30%), followed by Twitter (10%).

This tells me a few things:

  1. I need to get more active on Instagram! I’ve been experimenting a tiny bit, but haven’t done much with it. I’m starting out by adding an Instagram follow link to my sidebar. If you’re on Instagram already, please follow me and I’ll follow you back
  2. I’ve been spending time on a couple of platforms I can probably drop
  3. I need to do more with LinkedIn

More importantly, it tells me what I should focus on when I show you how to integrate WordPress with your social media platforms.

Ready to rock and roll? Let’s get started.

[Please note: some of the links in this article are affiliate links. That means, if you click and purchase, I receive a commission. It helps keep this site running, and helps me keep my prices low.]

Integrate Social Media Strategy #1: Social Follow

There are two types of social links you’ll want to provide on your WordPress site. Social follow links take your readers to the social platforms you’re active on, where they can sign up to get your updates.

The simplest way to create social follow links is with a plugin, and there are many to choose from.

Search for social follow plugins at WordPress.org, and you’ll see 1,000 results (that’s the most they show). From there, it’s a matter of sifting through the plugins to find the one with the functionality you’re looking for.

If you use a StudioPress theme, I recommend Genesis Simple Social Icons (free). It’s a lightweight plugin from the StudioPress developers. It’s installed on more than 200,000 sites, and has a 4.5 star rating.

It gives you icons that link to 16 different social platforms, and you can set the colors to match your site’s branding.

Here’s what it looks like on this site:

simple social icons

It’s not free, but if you’re using an Elegant Themes theme, then the Monarch plugin from Elegant Themes is an easy choice. With 39 social platforms to choose from, you can also choose a variety of icon styles. If you have a Developer or Lifetime Access subscription, you can use all of Elegant Themes’ plugins (as well as all the themes).

Integrate Social Media Strategy #2: Social Share

In addition to making it easier for your readers to follow you on social media, your content will get more shares when you make it easy for readers to share directly from the site. For this you have a huge number of choices. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

Where do you want the sharing icons?

Commonly, you find them above and/or below each post, or floating out to the side. To find out what works best for your site, you may need to do some experimenting. Here are four social sharing plugins to display above, below, or floating to the side.

Shareaholic

Find out more about this free plugin and service here.

Shareaholic calls itself a “content amplification” service, and includes a suite of tools. In addition to social sharing, it provides:

  • social follow
  • related content (these show up below your posts, with the idea that readers will see something of interest and stick around longer)
  • shareable images for Pinterest
  • social analytics

It’s a fairly comprehensive solution. The downside is, some site owners find it’s a real resource hog that slows down their sites — you won’t know unless you try.

Choose Shareaholic share buttons for about 60 social networks, and position them above, below, or alongside your posts. Customize the icon colors, choose from three sizes, and include share counts.

You’ll spot Shareaholic buttons all over the interwebs — they look like this:

Shareaholic sharing icons

Monarch

In addition to the social follow buttons, Monarch provides social sharing icons to display above, below, or next to posts. You can also set them to pop up, or fly in. Set them up to share images as well.

Icons can be customized.

As of yet, there’s no integration with Instagram, so if that’s one of your preferred networks, Monarch won’t be your best choice.

Monarch social sharing icons

Genesis Simple Share

If you’re using a StudioPress theme, and don’t need anything complicated, Genesis Simple Share is a solid choice.

Genesis social sharing icons

Social Warfare

Social Warfare is a premium, theme-agnostic social sharing plugin. It’s the one I’m currently using on this site.

Use it to share on 15 platforms, as well as Buffer. Once you integrate it with Buffer, you’ll be able to share on additional social platforms.

You can customize the appearance and order of sharing icons, and place them above, below, or next to posts. Or use a shortcode to display them anywhere you want.

Include share counts, Pin buttons on images, and make Twitter cards. There’s also a tweet to share function, and analytics.

Cost is $29/year for a single-site license.

Social Warfare social sharing icons

Which Social Networks Should You Feature?

Ideally, you should provide buttons for the main social networks your readers use. Only you can determine what they are.

All the plugins above provide icons for the major social networks. If your audience relies on a social platform that’s not mainstream, you’ll need to decide whether having a button for easy sharing is a priority. If so, make that the focus of your plugin search. Here are the first 1,000 listed at WordPress.org.

If you don’t know which networks your readers primarily use, start with icons for the networks where you’re most active. Then come up with a plan for determining where your readers are hanging out, and make changes as needed.

Integrating Social Media is Just the Beginning

Don’t think your job is done just because you’ve added some social follow and share buttons on your site. It’s not that easy…

Engaging on social media with your audience is where the magic happens. That’s a topic for another day. (Here’s an article to help you get started.)

Got questions about how to integrate social media with WordPress? I’m starting something new — as part of my own effort to engage more with readers, I’ll be making 2-3 minute videos in response to some of your questions, so leave your question below. Maybe the answer will surprise you!

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