[Giveaway] Here’s Why Social Share Counters Suck, Plus What I Can Give You That Doesn’t (Hint, It’s Simple, Effective, and Free)

Update.

This plugin has had a great run, no doubt about that! However, at this stage, I need to officially retire it. There are better solutions than it in the market right now, and I can’t reliably devote time to supporting the plugin at this time.

If you have a website, which you do, then you obviously need some social media share buttons.

But what if the buttons you currently use display all zeros? Like this:

0 shares

There are probably very few things that are worse for your social proof than showing such numbers.

I guess this will sound quite obvious, but we’d surely wish to see this on our social media counters instead:

a lot of shares

In fact, let’s just tell it like it is:

For new and up-and-coming sites, showing counters on social media buttons is negative social proof.

Now, you might be thinking that we all go through the low-numbers phase – that we all have to see those zeros before we can see 10s … 100s … 1000s (maybe).

So, do we?

Well, no.

Today, I want to give you the best quick fix I can think of.

I’ve developed a plugin that solves this problem.

Three of its main benefits are:

  • It’s meant for new and up-and-coming sites.
  • It gives you social proof you can leverage.
  • It doesn’t give you negative social proof.

Introducing the Social Share Starter

social share starter

In a sentence, it’s a social media buttons plugin. And while it may seem like the others, it’s not.

The two main features it offers:

(1) instead of showing an individual share number for each service, it shows a cumulative number for all of them.

(2) it allows you to set the minimal displayed number of shares.

By the way. Showing a cumulative number is a trend online, and we might as well just follow it.

Here’s what Pat Flynn does on his site:

pat

Here’s what’s going on at Mashable:

mashable

Now, back to my plugin.

Here’s what the settings page looks like. All settings are optional:

sss_settings

Two examples of the usage:

Example #1: A page with a nice number of shares

If you go to my Sylvester Stallone post on this site, you’ll see the total number of shares, currently it’s 264:

264

But, when you put it through a popularity checker, you’ll see that the numbers are a bit less impressive from a service-by-service point of view:

popularity

Currently, I have 98 likes, 50 shares, 40 comments (Facebook), 18 Tweets, 54 LinkedIn’s, and 4 G+ actions. Together, though, they look great – 264.

So the plugin showcases nice social proof when it has the possibility to do so.

Example #2: A page that’s slightly less popular

Here’s the plugin in action on one of my older posts:

old

As you can see, there’s no negative social proof. Only the buttons are displayed without the counter.

Update

I’ve been getting some great feedback about this plugin, so I was forced to speed up the development a bit. Long story short, there’s been a big update and now the plugin has one more cool functionality – a shortcode.

Here’s what the shortcode looks like:

[sss_counters_here /]

Nothing fancy, right? Maybe at first sight, but what this shortcode does is it allows you to place the social media buttons wherever you wish. This includes:

Posts

In case you want to add another block of buttons in a specific place within your post; like I’m doing here, for example, bam(!):

[sss_counters_here /]

Pages

I purposefully didn’t include any automatic placement for pages in the first version of the plugin. That’s because you don’t always want these buttons everywhere. For instance, my main email subscription page doesn’t have the buttons. The reason is simple, I don’t want people getting distracted, I just want them to subscribe.

But a shortcode is a great alternative. With it, you can selectively pick where exactly you want the buttons to appear on your pages.

Custom landing pages,
custom post types,
custom home pages, etc.

Basically, the shortcode works everywhere you need it to work.

The plugin is free

This is the first phase of its release, so I want to get it out to you and let you reap some of its benefits first before I release it to the official WordPress plugin directory.

How to get it?

If you’re reading this on the blog then all you need to do is tell me where I should send you the plugin.

If you’ve come here through the newsletter then you already have the direct link to the plugin in the same email message.

Feedback encouraged

I need your feedback on this.

If you like to share your experience with the plugin, don’t hesitate to reach me through the contact form on this site.

186 thoughts on “[Giveaway] Here’s Why Social Share Counters Suck, Plus What I Can Give You That Doesn’t (Hint, It’s Simple, Effective, and Free)”

  1. Hi! Its possible to change the graph between the total number of shares and the buttons?

  2. Hmm ok. Would be great to have global options to exclude entire custom post types. If you have a post type that gets updated a lot then it really rules out this plugin because it’s not practical to exclude hundreds of post IDs.

  3. I get this Error: Warning: curl_setopt() [function.curl-setopt]: CURLOPT_FOLLOWLOCATION cannot be activated when safe_mode is enabled or an open_basedir is set

  4. Hi, can you tell me, why the Buttons are not side by side, but like in the screenshot?

  5. Hi Sina, thanks for downloading the plugin!

    The cause of this error is the safe_mode that’s activated on your hosting account. It’s deprecated since PHP 5.3 and is almost impossible to get around for previous PHP versions. To be able to use the plugin, you would have to set safe_mode = Off in your php.ini file. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything I can do from my end.

  6. No, just the horizontal bar. Quick and simple.

    When it comes to vertical bars, I usually recommend Smart Layers by AddThis.

  7. Have just read about this on

    http://premium.wpmudev.org/

    This does look very good, and I’m pleased you’ll be adding in Pinterest. Will you also be adding email shares too? I’m surprised that email (and printing for that matter) are still such popular sharing choices.

    Thanks

  8. Pinterest is actually already added. Feel free to download the newest version. πŸ™‚

    When it comes to email, it’s on my list, but I’m not quite sure it would be that useful. Would it?

  9. Not as important to most people as FB, G+ and the like, but thought it should be on the wishlist, if there’s sufficient demand.

    Would probably trade that though for adding Buffer – which I’ve seen someone else suggest.

    Thanks once again for a remarkable free tool.

  10. Hello. Is it an option to add soundcloud or foursquare support for next updates?

    Also, nice comment box here!! Is this a plugin? If so, which one is it? πŸ™‚

    Thanks!!

  11. Question… if you were to change would the prior social media shares transfer over?

  12. Yep. The plugin doesn’t remember the shares. It gets them dynamically from the individual services.

    Anyway, you can always just test it out for a minute and if it doesn’t work like you need it to, then just switch back to your previous plugin. πŸ™‚

  13. Why I dont get any download link for the plugin, instead just an email for subscribing?

  14. Hi – This really is a great plugin, thank you! Quick question, is there any easy way that I can include/integrate the use of a URL shortener? My site has some quite long blog post slugs (friendly) and they seem to hog the share text.

    Anything you can suggest to help with that?

    Thanks again!

  15. Hi Karol,

    The plugin looks great, and I’ve got it installed. Do you know where I can find more info on “The story source parameter for LinkedIn”? I googled that, and I’m still not sure what to put in that box. It was prefilled with my website’s name, but when I tried the LinkedIn button for one of my posts, I got an error at LinkedIn. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  16. Huh…follow-up: I went to go get the error message so I could be more specific and helpful, and this time, I didn’t get an error. Maybe it was just a momentary glitch on LinkedIn’s end that other time. Never mind!

    BTW, a feature request I thought of: it would be great if we could use a color-picker (or enter a hex code) to choose the color of that arrow graphic you have there. A selection of different graphics and the ability to add our own or not use one at all would be cool too, but on the more simple end, just a way to set the color of that existing arrow manually would be sweet. πŸ™‚

    Thanks again for the great plugin. I LOVE the option to have it not show until a relative critical mass has been reached.

  17. You should upload this in the WordPress repository soon. Currently there are no plugins/scripts which provides total counter in the repository (there is a plugin called mashare, but it has lots of issues as they are using an external server to store the counts) πŸ™‚

  18. Thanks! That’s my plan, I’m improving the plugin, and once I have version 1.0 I’ll release it in the repository. πŸ™‚

  19. I have this feature on my list for the next updates. However, right now long links are not a problem with twitter or Facebook, they shorten them automatically.

  20. Thanks for your suggestion, I will think about that. In the meantime, if you want to change the arrow somehow you can just edit the graphics file – a.png πŸ™‚

  21. How do I change the size of the cumulative number of shares displayed. Mine is really large and overlaps my posts text.

  22. Hi great plugin, consider adding alt tags to the images and also if it the images can be a little smaller in size then i think it will be better optimised for viewing.

  23. Also, mashable use html5 and have it inside the head tags wrapped around aside tags. I think that would be symantically correct. Can this be achieved?

  24. Sorry about the late reply. Usually, using your website name for this parameter is what you need to do. Are you still experiencing this problem? Can you give me a link to your site?

  25. Hi. Currently there’s no interface to do this through the WP admin. But you can still change this by editing the CSS file for the plugin by hand. In case you want to do this yourself, it’s line no.40. You can change the value from “font-size: 26px; ” to something smaller.

  26. Technically speaking, the tags I’m using aren’t really NOT HTML5. It’s a really simple set of tags so they pretty much work everywhere. I might be experimenting with this in the next version though. Thanks for the suggestion.

  27. Try loading the sharing screen in a pop-up, I implemented it using a small javascript called “popup” and using that class in all the href attributes.

  28. PaweΓ…β€š Bystrzan

    Hey @carlosinho:disqus There’s a problem with subscription – I suppose. I tried with 3 email addresses (different providers), more than 2 weeks waiting and nothing happened – I have no mail from You. Could You Check it?

  29. How long does it take it to receive the download? I filled out the form and got mail chimp’s email to confirm subscription, but still no email with the link to download?

  30. David Oliveira

    Hi, great plugin! I’ve tried to set a minimal number of shares but nothing appears on the blog posts? Also, in the future, when if I successfully achieve many shares, can I remove the minimal number to leave my posts with the true share count?

  31. Hi, thanks for downloading it. The plugin doesn’t display any numbers until they reach the minimal number of shares you’ve set. Also, if you remove this setting later on, the plugin will adjust and start displaying share numbers no matter what they are.

  32. Hi Keyrun,

    There’s a shortcode option right now, so you can place the buttons anywhere within posts or pages. I’m am thinking about introducing a fully manual option for the next version of the plugin, though, so thanks a bunch for suggesting it.

  33. Hi Karol, this is excellent. Thank you very much. One problem though, if only the buttons could open in a pop-up window rather than a new tab, that would be excellent. Or maybe have the options to choose either of them.

  34. Love this plugin, the only suggestion I have for a new version is that I wish I could ‘disable’ it on custom post types. i.e. themes that use “courses” “lessons” “products”, etc. as post types. I installed it on my site, and I don’t want the share buttons on the courses/individual plans because those are private and paid for – I can’t see a way to disable it on certain posts, so either a way to disable it on certain posts or like this plugin ‘WP Author Box Lite’ that allows you to select in settings which post types you don’t wish to display the plugin on. (I’ll get around it in the meantime by using the plugin ‘Plugin Organizer’)

  35. Hi and thanks for downloading. You need to log in to your wp-admin. Next go to yoursite.com/wp-admin/plugin-install.php?tab=upload and upload the zip there. Then just activate the plugin from the plugins list.

  36. This can only be done manually.

    Line 91 of the PHP file is where you can find the word “SHARES”. It’s the one you can change to its Polish version.

  37. Hi Karol, having a problem, the plugin was doing a great job connecting in with Google+ and showing my number of shares and likes in Google+. This morning it changed from 250 to 50 shares. Not sure what is happening. Could you take a look at http://www.drchristopherhall.com/

  38. The number displayed by the plugin refers to the URL of your website, while the number displayed on your G+ widget refers to your G+ profile (I think).

  39. I’m using this plugin and it works great. I am *very* happy with it. Thanks for developing it, Karol.

    Quick question: is there a way to consolidate the total share number for http://www.exampledomain.com and exampledomain.com so that both are included into one rollup number? For example, this page (http://www.the-vital-edge.com/knowledge-and-artificial-intelligence/) has 780 shares, but when you take off the “www”, there’s an additional 180 or so.

  40. Chris, you didn’t recently change your site from drchristopherlall.com to http://www.drchristopherlall.com did you (i.e. add the “www” in WordPress? I ask because I did the opposite today (moved from a www to a non-www) and it changed the counts of my shares on many posts. Switching back brought back the original number.

    Karol, have you seen that before? Any thoughts on how to consolidate the two domains for one view count?

  41. Excited to have downloaded this for our site. After install on mobile it looks great but when you click to share on twitter it doesn’t use the installed app it opens a new tab and has me log in. Then when you do log in it forgets to share and just goes to my feed. The same is happening for Facebook where it isn’t using the app and just another page with log in. Thoughts?

  42. Excellent plugin. Just one feedback, it would be great if you add support to open Sharing screen in popup windows instead of new page

  43. Social media sharing popup is not blocked by browsers generally. Opening Share new window reduces usability because of lots of white space. It would be great if you can provide this option as setting. User who wants to use popup or normal new page.

  44. Currently, the sharing all happens inside the browser window, no other apps are launched. So in order to share, the user needs to be logged in first.

  45. Karol. Thanks for the heads up on this. It would be great for round two to add this option. Second question if that the historical shares are not showing up. Our site has been up for a couple years and none of the old posts seem to be registering with your plugin. Thoughts?

  46. It will be easy to get future update if you put it in WordPress Directory. Right now user will have to update manually, which might cause some issues for user.

  47. Hi Leslie

    I visited your site from a couple of browsers and don’t see the problem you’re describing. Are you sure you don’t have any browser plugins installed on your computer or other software that could cause this?

  48. The plugin shows the number of shares of a particular page that it’s displayed on, not a general number for the whole website.

    Please give me an example URL from your site and I’ll check if the numbers are right.

  49. Hi Karol,

    I actually figured it out, but couldn’t figure out how to delete/edit my comment – I had added another Pinterest plugin to my website so that I could display a “Follow Me” Pinterest button, and when I added that, it altered the “Pin It” image in your plugin. The WordPress plugin was “Pinterest Widget Plus.” Is there anything that I could do so that I can use other Pinterest widgets/plugins without having your Social Share Plugin altered? If you need me to put the plugin back on my site so that you can see, let me know.

    Thanks for the help!

  50. I tried visiting your site from multiple browsers, but I can’t see the problem showing up on my end. Did you experience it when viewing your site from a different computer?

  51. Hi Karol,

    Sorry, if you go to my website now, you should be able to see what I’m talking about – I had taken the Pinterest “Follow Me” code off my page because I love your widget so much that I don’t like how it changes your plugin! I’ll leave it as-is, though, so that you can see what it looks like. You’ll see there’s a “Follow I Heart Pets” Pinterest button right under the ad on the right hand side of my page now – that’s what’s affecting your plugin. I’ve added the “follow” button as both a WordPress widget and as just code placed inside a text widget, but it still changes your plugin.

    -Leslie

  52. Okay, I see it. It seems that the official Pinterest code looks through any instance of the Pinterest link being called and then changes it to the default button. I will see what I can do about this in the next update of the plugin. I will keep you posted (through my newsletter).

  53. There’s no front-end option for this. But if you want to play around with PHP, you can get the number of shares by calling:

    intval(sss_kk_calculate());

  54. Thats good, how do i get the plugin? I just subscribed to your mailing list but receive no plugin url yet? πŸ™

  55. Hi Karol this is nice plugin but on my site it shows more number of share for some post while for some post it show correct result or for some post it shows less shares

  56. Thanks for replying. The problem is I want the share counter after each article in the homepage (and archives, etc), so some kind of php hook would be great. Is that possible?

  57. I’ve installed this plugin and it’s working on one post, but not on another. I’m allowing it to work automatically above + below posts, not using the shortcode… Is there anything I can do to fix this? It’s not working here: http://www.weareninetynine.co/slider/interview-mike-le-kinetic-motorcycles/ , but is working here: http://www.weareninetynine.co/builds-parts/michael-hattons-harley-davidson-forty-eight/

    I know it should have results on the broken page too, as the link has 300+ engagements on facebook. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

  58. Here’s what I think is happening. The link you’ve shared here is a link to a photo that’s published on Facebook. And yes, that photo has a lot of interaction. However, uploading a photo to FB and putting the link in the description is something entirely different than sharing this link directly to FB. FB will never attribute the interaction on an individual post to some external URL. In order to make it work you have to share the link directly.

  59. That makes total sense. Thanks so much for looking into it and getting back to me. Much appreciated. Ryan.

  60. Hi – excellent idea for a plugin – I’m about to use it now. I am also planning on putting ‘share it’ buttons on top of the display images that will go on the homepage. Is it possible to link this to your plugin on the actual article page so that the ‘shares’ add up correctly?

  61. I’m not sure if I understand this correctly. In general, the plugin only works on individual pages or posts. So if you want to display share numbers, it needs to be done there. However, you can use different buttons on the homepage. Whenever something gets shared, my plugin will pick up the number on the individual page.

  62. Hi – for example, this website: http://www.hellou.co.uk is able to display the number of shares an article has on the homepage as well as within the article itself. Is this possible at all? Do you know how they have done this?

  63. You’re using another social media plugin on that page – the one looking like Mashable. There can be problems if you’re using them at the same time.

  64. The 6 shares number will only appear if the given post actually has at least 6 shares. If there’s less than that, nothing appears (that’s the main idea of the plugin).

  65. I have been looking for the best way to integrate social buttons into my new website. This article helped me to understand better what and how I should do. Thank you.

  66. Schuitman Jeroen Laurens

    Kindly send me the plugin , i just registered for the mailinlist. Thanks in advance

  67. Hi Karol,

    I love your plugin.

    But i found a mistake.

    If the post’s title has a ‘#’ or some other symbols, the tweet and the PinterestΒ΄s description are truncated at the symbol.

    You just have to change lines 70 and 83, where it says

    str_replace(array(‘& ‘, ‘ ‘), array(”, ‘%20’), the_title_attribute(‘echo=0’))

    Should be

    htmlspecialchars(urlencode(html_entity_decode(get_the_title(), ENT_COMPAT, ‘UTF-8’)), ENT_COMPAT, ‘UTF-8’)

  68. Thanks a lot for this feedback. I am testing this version with other possible post titles right now. It will probably make its way into the next version!

  69. I did think about that, but Stumble Upon tends to skew the results quite a bit. For instance, there isn’t something like “mildly popular” on SU. You either have 0 shares or something like 2000+

    Anyway, still a possibility.

  70. When is the plugin going to be put into the WP.org plugin repository? I’d like to make sure I have the latest version and update it quickly when needed. Having to check here is daunting and I haven’t gotten any email updates. If it’s going to be in repository soon, I will be more inclined not to switch to something else because I really like this plugin. Thanks πŸ˜€

  71. Thanks for commenting! I’m working on this right now πŸ™‚

    In the meantime, whenever there’s an update I share it through the email newsletter. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  72. Oh sorry I don’t know why it didn’t send through. I was posting about how awesome your plugin was but for people using woocommerce like myself, the share buttons automatically posts into every bottom product description. So if I had, let’s say 100, products it would be a nightmare trying to get every share button off each product page because the only option to do this is by ids. It would be nice to have some type of option to turn it off in woocommerce product pages and only on on blog posts, and/or have the option to have the share buttons under the top product description. (maybe you know woocommerce product pages typically come with a top and bottom product description) That’s alll!!!! Yipee! ^^

  73. Been using this for a while, and loving it. Came back to find out about a shortcode for custom LPs, so glad to see it’s here!

    Cheers mate.

  74. I’m not sure what you mean exactly. Basically, the plugin recognizes the current post’s ID and goes with that. Please clarify what you mean.

Comments are closed.