Social sharing options are pretty much a must for any blog.
You want to make it easy for your visitors to share what you’ve written with their social networks so that others can discover your content.
And the best way to do that is to include a button or two that puts the idea of sharing front and center, and makes it incredibly simple for your users to post your link to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or elsewhere.
Below are ten great social sharing plugins for your WordPress blog. Most are free and all have sharing options for multiple platforms. Some even include upwards of a hundred or more services you can implement.
Rail-style sharing icons have quickly risen to be one of the most popular styles seen on WP blogs today. Sharebar is arguably one of the most attractive plugins in this list, and one of the most usable. Its location to the side of posts, rather than at the top or bottom, improves visibility for those reading posts, especially since it moves with the viewport as you scroll. The only downside to Sharebar is that it only supports a limited number of services: Twitter, Digg, Facebook, Buzz, and Email.
AddToAny is a button-based sharing plugin that’s un-intrusive and easy to use, both from the perspective of the blog owner and the visitor sharing content. It includes a ton of services, from the most popular to ones you may never have heard of, though they’re arranged so that only the most popular show up on initial hover, with an additional click required to show the rest. It also includes bookmarking and email options.
AddToAny also includes an options panel that lets you customize which services you want to include, how the button will look (including color scheme), and more. This makes is much more friendly to users who want to fully integrate it into their site without having to dive into the code.
ShareThis is one of the most versatile plugins on this list. You can configure it to display share buttons in a variety of ways, including a single icon, a series of icons or buttons, or a series of widgets with the number of shares or retweets displayed. Registered ShareThis publishers get access to various tracking reports to see how much their content is being shared.
In addition to the main sharing options above, ShareThis is also testing a ShareBar for the bottom of your pages, and a HoveringButtons bar for including share buttons in a rail style along the side of the page.
4. Sociable Pro
Sociable Pro is the premium version ($9.99) of the popular free Sociable plugin. The Pro version adds a number of functionality improvements over the free version, as well as some additional options. One of the biggest reasons Sociable Pro is worth paying for, though, is the ability to use your own custom icons. This alone makes it a much more attractive plugin, and makes it easier to integrate directly with your site while maintaining the ease of using a plugin.
AddThis includes both sharing tools and robust analytics so you know how your content is being shared. It includes dynamic personalization options, so users see the right options at the right times. It has a huge directory of services to choose from (more than 300), and there’s deep Twitter and Facebook integration. It also includes automatic translation to more than 70 languages. You can use AddThis without registering, but then you miss out on the analytics options.
Socialize creates sharing buttons that include sharing counts. It works with Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and other services. The fact that the buttons can be placed either within your post, in the footer, or elsewhere is a big advantage for Socialize.
7. I Love Social Bookmarking
I Love Social Bookmarking is a simple plugin that’s based on a single icon that displays various subscription, social bookmarking, and sharing options when hovered on. It’s small and unobtrusive, and has a number of more advanced administrator options, including automatic or manual display, background colors, font face and size, link target, list title and style, and the ability to select which social media services are included.
SexyBookmarks is a more stylized sharing plugin that includes options for a ton of different social networks. It includes analytics information, official support for Google’s URL shortener, uses the Share API, and has been localized to more than 15 languages.
9. Light Social
Light Social is a simple plugin that places sharing icons at the bottom of your posts. Services supported include Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Delicious, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Buzz, and more. It’s implemented with lightweight HTML code for minimal impact on your blog’s file sizes and load time. You can enable or disable each individual service, but other than that there aren’t really any options.
SocioFluid is another stylized social sharing plugin that uses icons. The icons in this case zoom slightly when hovered over, and the name of the service is displayed (similar to the way the Dock works on Mac OS X). If your blog has the right kind of design, it’s a neat plugin. It’s MIT and GPL licensed, and can be used completely for free. The icons are from Icondock and the plugin uses jQuery for the effects.
Which of the plugins above have you used? Or do you use a different option all together? Let us know in the comments!