Khalid J Hosein is a blogger, computer consultant and Internet junkie. He is a co-founder of the gadget blog Gizmos for Geeks, and probably spends way too much time hacking his WordPress installs instead of blogging. You can also follow him on Friendfeed @kjhosein.
Every blogger wants their material to get shared around the Net and one popular way to encourage that behavior is to give their readers the ability to quickly click a button and save their article to a social bookmarking site. Social bookmarking (SB) sites (and their ilk) such as Delicious, digg, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and so on are extremely popular and can help take a website and/or blog from obscurity to instant fame in a flash.
In this article, I’ll take a look at a large list of WordPress plugins that you can install to instantly add numerous social bookmarking buttons to your blog.
Here are the top things that I look for when I’m evaluating SB WordPress plugins:
- It should ‘work’ right out of the box. This includes having a default set of popular services already enabled when you activate it.
- Since Twitter is too popular to ignore now, it should include Twitter options. For example, modifying the text that appears before/after a tweet; and specifying the URL shortening service.
- You can specify what SB services you would like to appear on your site.
- You can re-order the buttons.
- Ability to dictate what page types the buttons will appear on (pages, single posts, archives, etc.)
For this list, I also paid close attention to when these plugins were last updated, as many do not include support for Google Buzz (which was released in Feb 2010).
This list does not include related plugins/applications such as Mingle, or specific applications created by the likes of Facebook, Google, digg, Twitter, etc. solely for their sites.
Due to the number of plugins covered, I’ve distilled the amount of information provided here to what I considered their main essence, otherwise this could have easily been a 25-page article!
The Top Social Bookmarking Plugins
I’ll start with the plugin that I decided to personally use on my blogs, AddToAny, which is a drop-down menu styled SB app. With over 1 million downloads from the WordPress plugin repository alone, this is not only very popular, but very customizable down to colors and CSS. AddToAny is regularly updated and even has an API and statistics tracking.
Another very popular service, ShareThis is one of the founding members of the genre. Also highly customizable, it also has an API and click tracking & analytics. The ShareThis icon is also highly recognized and I applaud their open-sourcing of the icon.
Sociable has a few cool features included print and PDF buttons and they recently updated their plugin to include Google Buzz. Sociable includes drag-and-drop re-ordering and the ability to include the sharing icons in your RSS feed as well.
Another very customizable plugin, AddThis includes support for a staggering 290+ services. Although the orange ‘+’ icon is their brand, they let you replace it if you’d like. AddThis is a DHTML pop-up menu that includes a nice searchable interface with dynamic results.
SexyBookmarks is a very slick plugin that includes icons that animate up out of their ‘semi-hidden’ state when you mouseover. The plugin’s admin page has drag-and-drop re-ordering and you can modify the call-to-action text (“Share and Enjoy” in our screenshot). It also includes extensive Twitter options.
6. Share and Follow
What’s notable about Share and Follow, and why it is so named, is that it also includes a “Follow” tab, so you can have a cool looking floating tab that includes links to your social profiles. S&F allows you to select the size of the icons (24x24px pictured), tweak the CSS, and includes a few Twittering options.
It also includes the ability to specify the image to be associated with an article which is really useful in the case of sharing on a service such as Facebook.
As you can see in the screenshot, Socialize includes call-to-action text in a box at the content’s foot that encourages the user to sign up for your newsletter and/or subscribe to your RSS feed. Socialize also gives you 2 options, one of which is the vertically floated SB icons to the left or right of your article’s content. Many sites use this option to present Tweetmeme and Facebook Sharing buttons.
8. Digg Digg
Digg Digg may be a bit of a misnomer, because it certainly supports more than just digg. Digg Digg includes support for 18 services, and lets you position buttons either before, after or floated to the left or right of the article. Its unique feature is the ability to select what they call “lazy loading” which aims to speed up pages by delaying the loading of the SB icons by 5 seconds.
Digg Digg also includes the AJAX floated SB icons, popularized by Mashable, which looks like the buttons on the left of the article are floating no matter how much you scroll.
9. Light Social
Light Social is very light indeed. It only has 3 options, one of which is whether it’s enabled or not. The main point of this plugin is not to slow down your WordPress site with a ‘heavy’ plugin. You can not select which SB sites are included or re-order them.
Somewhat aimed at marketers, OnlyWire allows you and your visitors to submit to multiple SB sites at once; but you must sign up for account in order to customize the plugin. OnlyWire is pretty self-promotional and in some cases this can hurt the user experience. For example, when your visitors click a bookmarking link, it pauses for a few seconds (which can seem like an eternity) before it redirects them to the target SB site.
11. Instant Highlighter
It also includes an optional vertical floating tab, similar to the Follow tab in the Share and Follow plugin.
This next set of social bookmarking plugins have their fair share of supporters, but they are not quite as well-developed and feature-rich as most of the ones above. However, if you like the look of any, they may be worth keeping an eye on as their developers continue to improve them.
12. Bookmark Me
Be careful, there are at least 3 plugins called “Bookmark Me”. This is primarily a widget, and does not have a WordPress options page. So you may have issues if your theme does not natively support inserting widgets into posts, or you will have to manually edit your theme’s template to include the code.
13. Social Bookmarks/Social Bookmarking Reloaded
Social Bookmarks contains practically no options and none of the services are selected by default. It also does not include Google Buzz.
Social Bookmarking Reloaded looks very much like the Social Bookmarks plugin with a handful of additional options. Again, none of the services are selected by default, and Google Buzz is not included.
14. I Love Social Bookmarking
I Love Social Bookmarking does not include Google Buzz and only includes 13 SB sites.
15. Social Dropdown
Social Dropdown does not include Google Buzz and it also unfortunately had issues with the drag-and-drop not working when tested for this review.
16. Tell A Friend
Tell A Friend appears to have been created mainly for the purpose of promoting another website, but still looks pretty clear if limited in ability.
Author Bio: Khalid J Hosein is a blogger, computer consultant and Internet junkie. He is a co-founder of the gadget blog Gizmos for Geeks, and probably spends way too much time hacking his WordPress installs instead of blogging. You can also follow him on Friendfeed @kjhosein.