When establishing your business presence online, it’s easy to take it all a bit too seriously. And you should – of course – but it’s perfectly okay to have a little fun, too. And one way to integrate fun into your website is to make it socially shareable and interactive. This not only increases the likelihood that visitors will share your site, content, and blog posts on their social channels, but it also increases your audience’s ability to engage with you directly. And the more you can establish yourself as a “real person” online, the better reception you’ll receive for your business.
If your site is based on WordPress, increasing your social visibility is super easy. There are a ton of plugins out there that make it possible. But which ones are the best in terms of functionality and ease of use, and which ones are the best suited for businesses? Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Here are a few must-have tools for making your WordPress business site more social:
Though it might seem obvious, Jetpack is one robust tool for any WordPress site, which means it earned its rightful place on this list (checkout Ajeet’s post on Jetpack to learn more about this powerful WordPress plugin).
Among other things, Jetpack offers social media integration in a seamless way. Not only do you have the option of automatically sharing your new blog posts immediately after they’re published, you can also add discrete social sharing buttons below each post. This is a great solution for those who don’t want to overload their sites with a ton of plugins. Jetpack does so many things that odds are good you’ll be using it anyway – even if not for the social sharing component.
BuddyPress is a full-featured social plugin for WordPress. Your site visitors can create custom user profiles and you can build a social network right on your site. If you have multiple sites, the social integration features will appear uniformly. It’s also possible to set up and manage notifications, enable private messaging, and install a variety of third-party extensions.
This is a hot tool and if social integration and building a community is important for your business (it should be), this plugin is arguably a must. Checkout our BuddyPress Quick Guide to help you get started.
If you’re blogging regularly, there are likely key takeaways you want your readers to get out of every post. And instead of just listing them at the bottom of the post where they could be glossed over, it’s a good idea to just draw attention to where they are in the text. The Tweetable Shortcode plugin makes it simple for users to tweet bits of your content they’ve found insightful, just by clicking a button. Quotes from your posts are then shared on Twitter and you didn’t even have to lift a finger.
After installing, a shortcode button will appear in your post editor toolbar. All you need to do then is just highlight the text you want to offer as a soundbite and click that button. That’s it! The plugin does cost $10 but it’s worth it if you want to improve your Twitter strategy.
Contact Form 7
One of the best ways you can make your business site more social is to install a contact form. And one of the best plugins around for completing that task is Contact Form 7. It’s easy to install and setup. Just select the fields you want to include, customize the text, and insert. It includes spam filtering, so your inbox won’t be flooded with junk as a result. Any good business site makes it easy for potential and current customers to get in touch, so this is a must. And since you can customize the fields, there’s really no excuses. Tailor the form to suit your business. Easy.
Share Buttons by AddThis
There are so many social sharing plugins out there but one I think that really looks nice is Share Buttons by AddThis. It’s configured to work with over 330 social networks and social bookmarking sites. All the biggies are included on this list. You can set it up so these buttons appear pretty much anywhere on your posts, including above and below posts.
If you sign up for an AddThis.com account, you get access to stats on how your content is being shared. AddThis has other plugins for social integration, too that are worth checking out like Follow Buttons by AddThis, which appear either along the top of your homepage or on the left-hand side of every page, AddThis Welcome Bar, which adds a bar across the top of the screen that welcomes visitors based on their social networking preferences, and more.
If making for the most seamless experience possible is a priority for you, you’ll enjoy Social Login. This plugin makes it straightforward for visitors to your site to login and leave comments using their social network profiles. It’s widget and shortcode based so you can put it anywhere you want on your site and it works with all the popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. It works with BuddyPress, too, so if you’re all about social integration, this is the plugin for you.
The last plugin I’m going to talk about today is none other than Digg Digg by Buffer. The Floating Share Bar is featured on a whole host of sites all across the web and has become sort of a WordPress mainstay. The bar displays on the left-hand side of the screen and floats along the top of content as the user scrolls.
It displays the social sharing buttons for a wide variety of sites and you can pick and choose which ones to show. To give you just a sampling, Digg Digg supports Twitter, Facebook Likes, Facebook Shares, LinkedIn, Google +1, Buffer, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Tumblr, and more. It uses lazy loading, too, which means it won’t bog down your site. And if you’re not into the floating bar thing, you can just opt to have the buttons display at the top or bottom of your posts. It’s the flexibility I like the most.
Social media is becoming more and more of an essential component of running a business. Quite simply, you need it if you want to be successful online. While it might be intimidating to establish yourself on all of the popular networks, the very least you can do is make it easy for your visitors to connect with you and share your content. Even if that’s all you do, you’ll still be a lot better off than most.
So instead of making your visitors do extra legwork and hunt down your Twitter profile, email address, or what have you via Google search, use the above plugins to make your business site more social even upon first glance. Build communities on site. Integrate with the popular social networks. Allow for easy communication. Enable social sharing. These are the must-haves of a modern site. And luckily for you, having your site on WordPress makes all of that just a little bit easier.
What steps have you taken to make your business site more social? Do you use any of the plugins above or do you use other tools? I’d love to hear what you think.