Hands up if you’d like more fans and followers on social media?
Yep, thought so.
Rightly or wrongly, numbers matter. They make an impression. They are what we refer to as ‘social proof’.
Tell me honestly, when you look at a profile on Twitter and consider following somebody do you check how many followers they have?
I do. I always make a check to compare the number of followers they have, how many people they are following, and how many tweets they’ve made. These numbers give me a good idea of the type of account the person has and if they are going to be worth following.
It’s not just Twitter, of course, the same principle applies to the different social networks.
Those accounts with a high number of followers and only three tweets have obviously bought followers. That’s one way of increasing your follower count, but in the long-run, they’ll most likely prove worthless as they are ‘fake’ or ‘low-quality’ profiles and you won’t get any meaningful interaction from them.
It’s better to grow your social media followers organically by offering quality content and interaction on your accounts.
And one of the best places to start building your social media followers is on your website.
If readers like the piece of content they are reading then hopefully they’ll want to share it with their followers and start following you too so that they can keep up to date with your content.
All you need to do is make it easy for readers to follow you by placing Follow Me buttons in strategic places on your blog. There are some smart plugins out there that can help you do that. Some simple ones. And some fully-featured, All-singing, All-dancing ones.
Today, we’ll give you the low-down on five great WordPress plugins that will boost your social media followers!
Easy Social Share Buttons for WordPress
Easy Social Share Buttons (ESSB) is a fully-featured social sharing plugin for WordPress.
It claims to be:
The best social sharing plugin on the market, and the most complete and optimized social share buttons package.
That’s some claim, but after installing and testing this plugin, it’s easy to see why.
We already featured this plugin in our Best Social Sharing Plugins for 2017 review, when we focused on its social sharing features.
But the plugin has more to offer with its Social Media Following module too.
There are a couple of areas and methods where social media followers can be captured and displayed.
- Native Social Buttons – For placing in the main body of a page; e.g. above or below a blog post. Clicking a button increases the follower count in situ.
- Follower Fan Counters – For placing in a widget area; e.g. sidebar or footer, depending on your theme. Clicking a fan counter for a social network takes you to the respective account; e.g. Facebook page, Twitter account, etc.
Once installed, the plugin creates a menu in the WP Admin Dashboard:
The main menu has plenty of options, most of which are related to the social sharing settings.
But for the Social Followers module you can set up the following:
- Activate Social Following – Choose whether to activate the module.
- Update period – Select the time for the counters to update; usually one day.
- Number format – Choose the number format of the numbers; 1,000, 1k, etc.
- Allow user values – Opt to enter custom values for the Fans Counter on each network, which is ideal if you want to boost social proof before actual values appear.
Native Social Buttons
The Native Social Buttons use the social network styled buttons and are there primarily to nudge people who might be sharing your posts to follow you too.
Display Native Social Buttons with social share buttons:
Display position: native buttons top:
Display position: native buttons bottom:
Shortcodes to display native-like, follow and subscribe buttons:
ESSB has created some pre-defined locations and also supplies shortcodes so that you can quickly place a button elsewhere too. In this example, the shortcode is for displaying skinned buttons of Facebook and Twitter:
Hovering on the Facebook button reveals the native-like button under the skin:
Skinned native buttons
The skinned native buttons hide the default native until you hover over it. See the example below of skinned and unskinned:
Unskinned Facebook button:
Some countries do not allow sites to use native social buttons for like, follow and subscribe.
To get around this problem, ESSB has included a social privacy setting where native buttons only load after confirmation by the user. In this example, you can see that Twitter and Facebook native buttons have been revealed after I clicked the skinned button.
The Followers Counter features over 30 of the most popular social networks that you can display in your chosen widget area.
You’ll need to choose carefully which social networks to include as I must admit that I’ve never seen so many posted on one site!
Followers counter templates
You can choose from 16 Counter styles. Here’s a flavor of six styles:
Followers counter column layouts
With so many social networks available in the Followers Counter you get to decide how many columns (from 1-column through to 6-columns) you will have in your layout.
Followers counter style and animations
Finally, you can select from eleven styles and animations, including the position of the Total Counter and the spacing in between the buttons.
- Supports over 30 social networks
- Add native like buttons in different locations with or without share buttons
- Display native social like buttons anywhere on your blog with shortcodes
- 16 followers counter templates
- 8 attention grabbing animations and 3 total count styles
- Multiple followers counter column options
Monarch Social Sharing Plugin
Hands down the best social sharing plugin for WordPress.
First impressions suggest that the Monarch plugin is more refined than the Easy Social Sharing Buttons plugin.
Monarch offers two methods to build and display your social following:
- Monarch Widget – For displaying your social networks in your sidebar or footer:
- Monarch Shortcode – For displaying your networks anywhere throughout your website:
Once installed, the plugin creates a Monarch Settings option in the WP Admin Tools sub-menu:
Clicking this option leads you to the Monarch Dashboard, which has a simple interface and is very easy to navigate.
Social Sharing Plugins can be notorious for slowing down performance in WordPress. To combat this, Monarch caches all of your shares and follow counts for optimized loading. You can select the frequency (in hours) of count updates or leave it at zero if you prefer not to use the cache facility.
The Social Follow part of the dashboard has three sections for configuring Networks, Widget, and Shortcode:
Social network settings
Behind the scenes, Monarch allows you to connect to the social networks’ APIs for dynamically generated Follow Counts. Leaving the option disabled allows manually entered values to be displayed:
First, select which networks you wish to display:
Then rearrange them in the order you wish to display them:
And finally configure the API settings, following the information links to the excellent online support manual:
Unlike ESSB, Monarch does not restrict the inline follow buttons to the particular native social network design. You have full control over the design elements for a consistent look-and-feel.
The design options for both Widget (Sidebar) and Shortcode (Inline) are almost identical.
Icon Shapes and Hover Effects – Select from either squared, rounded, or circular buttons, and choose from 4 Inline or 5 Sidebar Hover Effects:
Columns – Display your icons in up to 6 columns (Inline) / 4 columns (Sidebar), or let them take on an auto-width setting:
Show Counts – Display your share counts alongside your network names, on their own, or not at all:
Orientations – Choose to center or left align your network icons to optimize the available space and design of your theme:
Remove Gutters – Remove button spacing for a whole new look and feel:
Custom Colors – The default setting will use the native colors of each social network, but you can choose the colors of your buttons and button content.
- Over 35 social networks to choose from
- Place follow buttons in any widget area or display with a shortcode
- Choose button shapes, colors, & hover effects
- Display network names and/or individual or total social counts
- Display the social network icon above or to the left of your follow counts
- Use native network colors or pick your own
Price: $89/year or One-Time Lifetime Access $249
- The Monarch plugin is part of the Elegant Themes membership scheme which currently includes 87 Themes and 6 Plugins.
WP Flat Social Profile Blocks
WP Flat Social Profile Blocks is a premium WordPress Plugin for displaying responsive Social Follow Buttons in the Widget areas of your site.
The plugin covers six popular social networks: Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube. And as the name suggests they display as blocks.
The admin panel is user-friendly and makes configuration a breeze. Once the plugin is installed it creates a new menu in the WP Admin Dashboard:
The General Settings option allows you to choose which social networks to have enabled or disabled.
Then for each network, you complete a config panel by entering your relevant account details. You also get to choose whether your follower counts are displayed or not. Here’s how it looks for the Facebook panel:
Note: There are no API connection settings in WP Flat Social Profile Blocks as we have seen previously in Monarch and ESSB.
The design section gives you the option of either using the default social network colors or choosing you own palette. You can modify the text and background colors for each block using a standard color picker.
Here’s how it looks for the Facebook settings:
The result for your Sidebar Widget could look something like this:
- 6 social networks to choose from
- Place follow buttons in any widget area
- Use native network colors or pick your own
- Simple drag and drop user-friendly admin panel
- Mobile responsive and retina ready design
Metro Style Social Network Widget
Metro Style Social Network Widget is a lightweight WordPress plugin that displays Metro Style social network icons in your Sidebar.
The plugin links to your social network profiles and has the option to show the native follow/like buttons and follower counts so that users don’t have to leave your site to connect with you.
The plugin covers six popular social networks – Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube – plus the RSS feed.
There is no separate dashboard for this plugin; you make all configuration changes in the Appearance > Widgets menu of your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
Once you have dragged the Widget into your Sidebar, the following settings can be configured:
The top section is where you enter your social profile details for each network. The default setting uses the native social network colors, but you can choose your color scheme via the color picker if you wish.
You have the option to hide certain social networks, but as the developer states:
Since everyone use Facebook and Twitter, we made them as default and other networks as optional.
Therefore, Facebook and Twitter will always be present whether you like it or not.
Note: SpecificFeeds has sponsored this plugin, hence the config section for that product.
In the bottom section, you can specify whether you want the Like/Follow buttons to be active or not.
As the plugin has a responsive design, it will automatically fit into the width of your sidebar, but you also have the option to specify a different size if you wish.
Here’s what widget looks like in your sidebar after you have configured it:
The follow button permanently displays on the Twitter icon. On the other networks, the follow button appears when you hover over them.
There is no control over the size and placement of the social network icons; Facebook is always the big block.
Here are a few other possible displays depending on how you configure the settings:
- 7 social networks to choose from
- Place follow buttons in your widget area
- Use native network colors or pick your own
- Simple widget panel settings
- Responsive design
Simple Follow Me Social Buttons Widget
Simple Follow Me Social Buttons Widget is a ‘very simple’ WordPress plugin to display the social network “follow me” buttons in your chosen widget area.
It supports an incredible amount of social networks – see the list here – as the developer kept adding more from user requests.
Currently no more are being added, but I’m quite sure you’ll find enough 🙂
The plugin is lightweight as it only uses Font Icons, as opposed to Images, and it’s also ready for Retina Display.
There is no settings menu page. You configure everything in the Appearance > Widget menu of WordPress Admin Dashboard.
At the top of the widget panel, you select which social networks you want to include and enter your profile details.
At the foot of the widget panel, you make five simple selections as follows:
- Style – Squared or Rounded
- Size – Specified in pixels
- Color – Leave blank for default or select your own
- Hover Color – Leave blank for no color or select your own
- Layout – Choose between Horizontal or Vertical
- Position – Icons under or next to the text
The selections above would display like this:
Here are a few more examples of how to display the buttons:
Note: The Simple Follow Me plugin does not display follower counts. Clicking an icon opens the respective social network page in a new window.
- Over 65 Social Networks to Choose From
- Place Follow Buttons in your Widget Area
- Use Native Network Colors or Pick Your Own
- Simple Widget Panel Settings
- Responsive Design
The five Social Media Follow Widgets reviewed here are all great WordPress plugins in their own right, but which one is the best for you?
Making a decision will rest on a few factors, including functionality, usability, support and pricing
If you want a free plugin, go for the Simple Follow Me Widget because it is lightweight and it gives you an excellent array of display options and a possibly overwhelming amount of social networks to select from. It doesn’t show the number of followers, but it’s a great starter plugin.
If you want a premium plugin with plenty of styling options and the opportunity to display follower counts, then I’d opt for the Monarch Social Sharing plugin or the Easy Social Sharing Buttons plugin. They are both jam-packed with features and also have social sharing capabilities too.
Overall, the Monarch plugin just edged it for me based on the simplicity of its dashboard and the quality of the support documentation.