Social Networking Plugins

The social Web is a concept, and you've got a ton of profiles to the left and right. Each social book-marking tool has its own submit link, and while you can just add them all to your theme (which we'll get to later in the book), you can also rely on a plugin. It's all connected these days, after all. So why not add a little bit of the social Web to your site? Show off your Twitter and let your visitors submit your content to Digg. You can do most of that directly in your theme with some custom code (usually found on the various social networking sites' tools pages), but if you want to take a shortcut or add some extra social Web flair, then these plugins may help.

Lifestream (wordpress.org/extend/plugins/lifestream/): The Lifestream plugin easily adds lifestreaming features to your WordPress site. Just install it and set up what online accounts and RSS feeds it should fetch data from, and then you can include it using a shortcode on a Page, for example. You can also customize each element thanks to CSS classes being added, and there is built-in support for several of the largest social media properties out there, although just about anything with an RSS feed will work. And, of course, it is ready for localization as well as being constantly updated, which makes it an interesting option for those of you wanting to lifestream from within WordPress.

Twitter Tools (wordpress.org/extend/plugins/twitter-tools/): Twitter Tools connects your WordPress blog with Twitter, and lets you send tweets from the blog to your account. A simple enough settings page makes this a breeze to set up, and you can even control how the tweets you've sent should be tagged and handled on your own site. This means that you can have an asides category and send everything posted in it to Twitter, or the other way around.

Tweetable (wordpress.org/extend/plugins/tweetable/): Tweetable is a really cool plugin that lets you tweet from your WordPress admin, among other things. It auto-posts to Twitter as well, with optional Google Analytics campaign tags if you're curious about the stats, and there's even a widget to display your latest tweets and a TweetMeme (www.tweetmeme.com) feature. A must to try for any Twitter junkie using WordPress.

ShareThis (wordpress.org/extend/plugins/share-this/): Sending posts to social bookmarking sites is popular, and adding this functionality to each and every post on a site, well, that's a reasonable effect of this. ShareThis is more than just a plugin, it is a service that hosts your submit form, which means that you can get stats and everything if you sign up for an account. The only thing to keep in mind here is that any third-party element will rely on that party's ability to serve the data. In other words, if the ShareThis server is slow or even unavailable, then so is some or all of your sharing functionality.

Add to Any: Share/Bookmark/E-mail Button (wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ add-to-any/): This plugin integrates the hosted AddToAny.com sharing button. You may also want to look at the Subscribe button as well, if you like this service: wordpress.org/ extend/plugins/add-to-any-subscribe/.

More social stuff:

■ Wickett Twitter Widget (wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wickett-twitter-widget/) is a simple widget that shows your tweets.

■ Twitter for WordPress (wordpress.org/extend/plugins/twitter-for-wordpress/) is another widget used to show off your tweets.

■ Sociable (wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sociable/) is a popular social bookmarking plugin that adds links to your site.

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