Plugins that allow you to embed social share buttons on your WordPress website are a dime a dozen. As with every category of WordPress plugins (and themes), there are varying degrees of quality depending on which one you choose to install. I know because I tried them. Maybe not quite all of them because I don’t think a lifetime would be enough time to do that but certainly the most popular options freely available on WordPress.org. What I was looking for was the perfect social share plugin for my favourite lean and clean WordPress theme, GeneratePress, and none of the heavyweights fit that criteria.
As a GeneratePress user, I am only interested in fast and lightweight plugins and the same obviously applies to the social share buttons. As it turned out, many of the most popular plugins add a lot of what I’d consider unnecessary bulk to both the front- and backend of a WordPress website. After months of testing I discovered the relatively unknown and completely free plugin Shared Counts – Social Media Share Buttons.
When I say that Shared Counts is unknown, it isn’t because the plugin is bad and should be avoided. In fact, those that use it love it, including non-other than me. It’s just that compared to other heavier advertised social share plugins, Shared Counts hasn’t been installed nearly as often. Perhaps with a little help from the GeneratePress community, we can help it receive the attention it deserves. Let me tell you why you should be using Shared Counts as your social share plugin.
Shared Counts: Lean and clean like GeneratePress
As the developers put it, Shared Counts was created with site performance in mind (sounds familiar). Even on large websites there is only a minimal effect on site overhead. There are no cookies and tracking scripts added to your GeneratePress website when using Shared Counts and it doesn’t store any user data.
Incidentally, that also makes Shared Counts fully GDPR compliant without having to add any warnings next to your social share buttons. Many of the more popular social share plugins technically aren’t compatible with the rules laid out in the GDPR.
Another seemingly minor thing I really like about Shared Counts is that it doesn’t add an extra item to the WordPress menu. All the options are tucked away under
Settings. As these options aren’t adjusted all too frequently, I’m definitely counting that as a positive. Any plugin that doesn’t add any unnecessary clutter to my WordPress menu is in my good books.
What does Shared Counts count?
As the name suggests, Shared Counts isn’t just a plugin for displaying social share buttons. It will also count the number of shares and display them next to the button. As you might be able to see in my sidebar, that number is optional. I have it disabled for two reasons: The plugin would have to gather and cache the share counts and it uses the SharedCount API which does costs after a certain number of calls.
Shared Counts supports tracking and displaying the social counts for Facebook, Pinterest, Yummly, and Twitter buttons. There are ways of enabling the social counts for further services but as I haven’t enabled share counts I haven’t tested any of the custom scripts so far.
I have not gone in too deep on whether displaying the share count is a positive and makes visitors more likely to share an article. Currently, it is also not something I am putting much effort in to as on a small amount of my traffic comes from social media. I’m sure there more qualified experts with a more informed opinion on the subject. To add to the two issues mentioned above, I would also have to do a lot of CSS work to get everything to look the way I want it to.
What buttons does Shared Counts offer?
Out of the box Shared Counts supports buttons for Facebook Share, Pinterest Pin, Yummly, Twitter Tweet, Email, Share Count Total, Print, and LinkedIn. That might not necessarily sound like a broad selection of social media. After all, services such as WhatsApp and Reddit are missing.
Luckily though, Shared Counts is very developer-friendly which is another thing many GeneratePress users will like. You can customize just about every aspect of your buttons and also add further buttons to your hearts content.
I will be adding multiple guides on how to add extra buttons to Shared Counts, starting off with Reddit and WhatsApp, and also on how to fully customize the look of your share buttons using some basic CSS. Make sure you visit GeneratePress Guides frequently to not miss out on them!
How to integrate Shared Counts with GeneratePress
In the plugin’s options, you can tell Shared Counts to automatically display on pages and posts. I don’t have that option enabled on any of my sites because they all use GeneratePress and with GeneratePress come the fantastic GeneratePress Elements which allow you to display the social share buttons anywhere using the shortcode:
For GeneratePress Guides, I’ve simply added the shortcode to my sidebar which is also created using a GeneratePress Element. Using the hook option you have almost unlimited possibilities and can add Shared Counts to the beginning or end of an article, above the comments container or even to the top bar and the footer.
Just like GeneratePress itself, Shared Counts is lean, clean, and lightweight. It won’t noticeably slow down your already fast website and it doesn’t add any unnecessary bloat to WordPress. If you are using GeneratePress and want a matching social share plugin look no further than Shared Counts.
For those that like customizing their websites, Shared Counts also has plenty to offer. Additional social share buttons can be added using code snippets and a design which matches the rest of your website can be created with custom CSS.