How to Get More People to Share Your Content on Social Media With WordPress
There’s a formula all of the best bloggers follow: valuable content + proper search engine optimization + semantic relevancy = great rankings in search engine results and high visitor engagement.
However, just writing valuable content and following the best SEO and semantic search practices are not enough. In order for your great content to be seen, it needs to be shared. And to make sure that happens, you must optimize your posts for sharing on social media.
When you do that, you will notice your content getting more shares, pins, retweets, and likes, which can ultimately increase the click-through rate to your website. And that’s one of the ultimate goals when it comes to blogging.
So how do you optimize your posts for social media sharing? What does that even mean?
In this article, I will explore ways to optimize your WordPress posts for sharing on social media and show you a few different plugins that will help you increase social media engagement on your site. Let’s get to it.
How to Optimize Your Posts for Social Sharing
Optimizing your posts for social media involves a couple of things. The first thing you need to do is, obviously, add a social media sharing plugin. In the world of WordPress plugins, social media sharing plugins are a dime a dozen. With so many options, it can be hard to decide which one you should use. I covered social media sharing plugins in-depth before so I’ll just briefly mention a few options here.
For many WordPress users, one of the easiest methods to enable social media sharing is by simply activating the sharing module in JetPack. It doesn’t offer a lot of bells and whistles but for those that want a free and simple no-frills solution, it does the job. If you enable the Publicize module, it will automatically share your posts on social media as soon as you publish it.
Another free solution, which is popular among many users, is Shareaholic. Shareaholic offers more customization options than JetPack, some of which include the ability to place the sharing buttons above and below the content, display them as a floating bar, Pinterest “Pin It” button for images, as well as displaying related posts underneath your content.
Our own plugin, Floating Social, adds social media buttons on top of your content which follows the user as they scroll down your site. This can increase engagement significantly. It works with multiple social media networks and gives you the ability to include your own custom services, short links, customize the colors, and more.
The plugin is available with WPMU DEV’s membership subscription for $49 per month or on its own for $19.
Another plugin that is available with our membership is Social Marketing. This plugin can significantly boost your social engagement rate by allowing you to offer incentives to share your content. You can offer coupons, discounts, or free downloads in exchange for a tweet, like, or for sharing on LinkedIn and Google+. It’s available for $19 or as a part of WPMU DEV’s membership subscription for $49 per month.
How to Add Open Graph Protocol Features to Your Site
The second thing you need to do to display your content in a social media-friendly way is enabling Open Graph Protocol features.
This means that by adding a few specific meta tags to your website, your content becomes a rich object. In layman’s terms it means as soon as someone enters the link to your article to a social network, it will display a custom image, description, and more.
There are two ways to do this. You can either add those meta tags yourself if you don’t mind diving into code, or you can use a plugin to do the heavy lifting for you.
How to Add Open Graph Meta Tags Manually
If you’re not afraid of a little extra work, you can add Open Graph tags manually to your WordPress theme. Before doing anything code-related, you need to create and upload a default fallback image which will be used if your article doesn’t have any images.
You can upload it to your site’s root folder via FTP, or you can upload it to your WordPress Media Library. Just make sure to remember to copy the image URL because you will need it soon.
After you have done that, it’s time to add the code below to your functions.php file. Best practice would be to create a child theme of your theme and copy the functions.php file and then place the code there. That way when your theme updates, you won’t have to re-add it every time.
The first set of code is a function that tells third party services that there are tags other than pure HTML tags within the document. This lets Open Graph parsers read your meta tags properly.
This will make sure that the proper doctype is added to the HTML.
Then you can add a function that defines a global post object and then checks if you are on the post page. If you are, it pulls the thumbnail from the post. If the post has no thumbnail will default back to that fallback image we talked about before. The last bit also checks to see if you’ve set an excerpt for your post. If it can’t find an excerpt it will default to the general site description:
Next, it’s time to add the actual Open Graph tags:
Each of these tags give social media sites additional information about your post.
Finally, you need to actually add information to your post in the head section of the HTML:
add_action('wp_head', 'fb_opengraph', 5);
The downside of this approach is that if you decide to change themes later on, you will have to add this bit of code again to your new theme.
How to Add Open Graph Metadata With a Plugin
In case this is too technical and you want to include Twitter cards and Rich Pins into your strategy as well, then using a plugin is the route you’ll want to take.
While there are individual plugins for both Twitter Cards and Rich Pins, as well as Facebook Open Graph, the easiest method is to use a plugin like All In One SEO to cover all of your bases.
The first thing you need to do is make sure Social Meta is enabled in the Features section of the All In One SEO plugin.
After that, click on Social Meta and check the box that says Autogenerate OG Descriptions:
The rest of the steps are pretty self-explanatory. You need to:
- Specify which image will get used and point to the location of your fallback image.
- Enter your social media profiles and enter the information for your Facebook Admin App and ID which can be obtained here.
- Fill out the information for Twitter Cards. The authors of the plugin have a detailed explanation of each setting that you can follow.
In case you are using JetPack, Open Graph meta tags are automatically generated for you. Another added benefit with JetPack is that their Site Verification module allows you to verify your site with Pinterest which will enable Rich Pins on your site.
By adding Open Graph metadata to your website, you are already one step ahead of the competition. But what happens when you’re not there to personally share your content? What about different image requirements for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and others? How do you make sure the right image is shared for the right networks?
A simple solution I’ve found is to use the Social Warfare plugin.
Social Warfare and Social Media Engagement
Social Warfare is a premium plugin that is quickly gaining in popularity, and with good reason. Although at first glance it looks like yet another sharing plugin that adds sharing buttons above and below posts and a floating bar and claims to be responsive; it does all that and goes a step further.
This plugin’s main features include:
- You can customize it
- You can add custom images for Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest
- You can add custom descriptions and a custom Tweet
- You can add a “Click To Tweet” option for users
- You have full control over the placement: above the content, below or both, floating bar, manual placement via shortcode
There’s more, but you get the idea.
The settings seen in the screenshot above allow you to select which social media buttons you want and where you want to display them, activate Twitter cards, specify your Twitter username, and select how the buttons look. Don’t let the seemingly familiar settings fool you. The real power of this plugin is in the individual settings you control when publishing a new post or a page.
From there, you can upload a custom image for Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn as well as write a custom description that will get used each time someone shares your post on those social networks.
The same goes for Pinterest and Twitter, which allows you to create a customized tweet. On top of that, you can manually add tweetable quotes into your post which eliminates the need to use an extra plugin just for that functionality.
Aside from the features I mentioned above, Social Warfare also gives you the option to display your most popular posts in the sidebar depending on the number of social shares the post has received. Social Warfare costs $24 per year for one site license.
Optimize Your Posts with WordPress Social Sharing Optimization
There is another plugin that deserves a mention when it comes to optimizing your posts for social media sharing. And that’s the aptly named WordPress Social Sharing Optimization plugin.
Unlike other plugins mentioned in this post, WordPress Social Sharing Optimization is not a sharing plugin. Instead, it works in conjunction with your preferred social sharing plugin to ensure your content is always shared in the best possible way. Basically, it gives you total control over how your content looks when it’s shared.
In case you have the All In One SEO plugin or WordPress SEO installed, WPSSO will warn you upon activation that you need to disable the social features of those respective plugins. Once that is done, the plugin pretty much works out of the box. There is some minimal configuration to be done to make sure everything works as it should. Otherwise, it’s very hands-off.
The main settings you need to populate are your Facebook page URL, your Google+ page URL, and the image settings which are already preconfigured for you.
Once you go to publish a post, WPSSO will automatically populate the description and image to be used on social media. You can preview how the post will look in the Preview Tab and you can even validate the presentation of your content across several different social networks, mainly Facebook Open Graph Validator, Google’s structured data markup, Pinterest rich pins, and Twitter Cards.
Now, I know you might be wondering why you should bother installing this plugin when you can configure these settings with All In One SEO or WordPress SEO. But the differences between those SEO plugins and WPSSO are huge. At their best, SEO plugins will let the social websites know about the title, a short description, and a default image.
WPSSO, on the other hand, will also take into consideration your images from plugins such as NextGEN Gallery, your embedded videos, preview images, as well as WooCommerce, WP e-Commerce, and MarketPress products.
This plugin is available for free but it does have a premium version. Pricing starts at $49 for one website license.
Nowadays, producing great content and relying on SEO alone is not enough. In an age where social media plays an ever-increasing role, it’s imperative that your content is presented in the best way possible. Make sure you don’t let your content fall through the cracks by failing to optimize your posts for social media. Hopefully, the above tips will get you started out on the right track.
Have you taken extra steps to optimize your posts for social media sharing? What’s your favorite social sharing plugin? Share your thoughts with the community in the comments below.