I have a confession: I hate paying for plugins.
Especially plugins with an annual fee.
So it took me a long time to come around to the idea of paying $24 per year for one plugin.
But I did, and I liked it so much, I put it on every site I'm a part of. I told my friends, I told them to tell their friends, and honestly? Everyone likes it.
What is it?
The Social Warfare plugin.
What is the Social Warfare Plugin?
According to their website, the Social warfare plugin is a plugin that adds “beautiful, lightning-fast share buttons to your site,” but if that's all it did, it wouldn't be worth $24 per year.
Because, let's face it, there are eleventy social share buttons out there (last I counted).
The reason I like the Social Warfare plugin is that they're the only people who have figured out a way to have a different image show up for someone to share depending on where they share it.
Let me show you.
What the Social Warfare Plugin Looks Like on a Blog Post
After you install this, you don't have to memorize the right sizes for your images — Social Warfare says right below the upload button that in order to optimize for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, your image should be 1280 x 720 pixels.
You can change the social descriptions, create a custom tweet, and, most importantly, add a Pinterest image.
Here's how it looks (on this post, no less) when it's all filled out:
To me, this is perfection. The layout of this theme (and many other themes) does much better with a landscape image than a portrait one, but Pinterest wants you to have a portrait image, with words on it. I was never thrilled with using the Pinterest-ready image at the top of my post, because it messes with the user experience. The reader is expected to:
- Read the post title
- Scroll through the visual version of the post title
- Then keep reading
I knew I was losing people — heck, I was losing myself! The point of internet writing is to get people reading, not make them jump through hoops!
So, for me, if Social Warfare only had this Pinterest option, it would be more than enough for me.
However, the fun doesn't stop there.
What Else can the Social Warfare Plugin Do?
1. Pretty Click-to-Tweet Options
After you install Social Warfare, you'll see a few new buttons in your visual editor:
Click that, and create something lovely, like this:I tripled my social shares after installing Social Warfare.Click To Tweet
Which will further help to increase your social shares.
2. Pretty (and Smart) Social Sharing Buttons
You can change the look of your social sharing buttons — there are several different color combinations as well as shape combinations. I like to switch things up from time to time, and having the flexibility to do so without swapping out a plugin feels like a luxury.
3. Huge (and Growing) Number of Social Networks
As of this posting, you can activate the following social networks using Social Warfare:
And, knowing how often they update this plugin, I'm sure this list will grow. You can rearrange the order of your buttons, or you can leave it dynamic, meaning the plugin will determine which button should be first based on the number of pins.
Once you go through the setup (and you'll want to go through every single tab because their default locations are actually all over your site, and as much as your About Page rocks, you probably don't need social sharing there… do you?), you'll see that Social Warfare pretty much just blends into the background. You get used to creating a Pinterest-specific image, and you end up doing that automatically… which will absolutely increase your social sharing. I noticed a 3X difference, but who knows? If you don't have a Pinterest presence at all, and you start one by adding Pinterest-worthy images to your posts now, you'll see a much larger increase in your social shares, which will increase your traffic, and, hopefully, help you cover the annual cost of this plugin.