Last updated February 25th, 2016 at 11:53 am
When I come across a blog with content that interests me I’m always keen to follow the writers on their social media networks. That’s not possible if there are no follow buttons. Here are some WordPress Follow Plugins but if you don’t want to add any more resource hungry plugins I’ve included a free download of Follow Button Images and full instructions to add them to your site.
A blogger may have plenty of contacts, followers or likes on their social media profiles and pages but who better to attract than those interested in what you write on your blog.
Interested followers are more likely to share and interact with your social media posts and visit your blog. Even if you offer email updates or a newsletter on your blog they may not be ready to sign up. If you keep them in the loop by social media they may be ready down the track.
So it’s important to include Social Media Follow Buttons on each page and post of your website or blog. Put them in an obvious easy to find position in your header or sidebar. You can repeat them in your footer, as a reminder to readers who/ve scrolled down to read your content.
Some networks will give you the code for a follow button to place in a text widget but a series of these with different formatting doesn’t look too good. A row of matching icons looks much better. Social media like and feed widgets such as the Facebook Activity Feed take up valuable resources, and can slow your site down, so you don’t want a whole series of those.
Here are some plugins that will give you follow button using widgets.
WordPress Follow Buttons Plugins
Floating Social Media Icon
Added October 2014
The Floating Social Media Icon plugin is now my favorite. They can be used as share buttons as well as follow buttons so one plugin does both. They can be used in a post as well as a sidebar (using a shortcode) and you can even upload your own icon set to use. I suggest you show the follow buttons in the right hand side as most floating share buttons appear in the left and it saves confusion. If you include them in-post add a heading that shows they are follow buttons.
SImple Social Buttons
The Simple Social Buttons free plugin is by Studio Press the makers of Genesis. Simply drag their widget to whichever sidebar area you want it and add the links to the social profiles you want.
Social Icons Widget
Social Icons Widget is a free simple follow button plugin, light on code. That’s all you need.. Options include icon size, small icon with text and vertical or horizontal placement. What I like about this plugin is the ability to upload your own icons and use these.
Easy Social Icons
No icons come with the free Easy Social Icons plugin. You upload your own and then configure how they display. An advantage to this plugin is being able to add follow buttons to posts using shortcode. I see this as useful to use in posts for trying to get followers for a particular social media network or to announce a new profile or page.
Follow Buttons By AddThis
Addthis provides free Follow Buttons through both manual installation, via their site, and through the easier option of their Follow Buttons by Addthis plugin. Manual installation requires signing up for a free account with Add this and entering the provided code on your site.You don’t need an account to use the plugin. (Addthis also has plugins and manual installs of sharing buttons, recommended content addins and a welcome toolbar to direct visitors to content of your choice.)
Passport by Filament
You might be familiar with Filament’s Flare Social Sharing app but they also provide a dynamic follow widget called Passport. Create an account with Filament, add your website. Make your Passport by adding your social media links. Your chosen website shows up in the Filament window and you then drag and drop your widget where you want it. WordPress users will be prompted to install the Filament plugin and given the code to add to its settings. Flare set up is similar and both are fiddly compared to other types of plugin.
I have Passport installed in my sidebar on post pages for now, but in case I remove it here’s an image of how it looks. The normal view is an avatar, hovering expands it a little and clicking shows all your chosen follow buttons.
Manual Follow Buttons
It’s not hard to manually add linked follow buttons to a text widget. My free download goes through the process step by step.
There are advantages to either manually installing or using a plugin that allows you to use your own images. Sidebar widgets often get ignored but if you change over your follow buttons now and again they’ll stand out more. Use icons that match the your blog topic. For example apple-shaped icons for a health blog. You can also change them according to the season. For example, use buttons with snow capped tops for winter or festive ones for Christmas and Easter. Here are some Santa hat icons on a client’s Christmas site
Follow Button Images
Even if you choose to install a plugin you may prefer to use your own button images instead of those provided. Some sharing buttons also allow this. A search or image search for “free social media icons” will bring up many results. When writing this I searched and found a lot of blog posts providing lists of 25/50/1000 Social Media Icon Sets. The 1000 was an exaggeration, the most I found in one post was 145. The problem is that a lot of these sets are older and don’t include Pinterest or Google Plus Buttons.
Free Social Follow Buttons Sets
To save you long searches, I made two sets of social media buttons for you to download. They are modern flat icons, one set square, the other with rounded corners and include the networks typically seen on blogs. In .png format you can add them to any background color or background image. The download includes full instructions for the plugins and manual insertion.
I’ve just created a new Facebook Page to let you know of Free Image Resources. . Please like the page to keep up with updates as I’ve only just got started adding resources.
Do you have follow buttons on your own site. If so what plugin do you use, or do you add the code manually?