Published by on May 6, 2020 • 0 Comments • Lire en Français

Social Warfare. Have you ever heard of this social sharing plugin?

Before writing this article, I had never tested it. So I was really looking forward to finding out what it was up to.

It must be said that its creators do not skimp on superlatives. The “best social sharing for WordPress.” is described as “beautiful” and “lightning fast”. Yep, you read it right.

I think you'll agree with me if I tell you that finding THE good social sharing plugin is really not easy. Galley would be a more appropriate word.

What if Social Warfare was the perfect soldier?

In today's article, I will show you exactly how it works, step by step. You will discover all the facets of the free and paid versions.

In preview of the content, here are three revelations:

  • you might be mislead by how easy it is to use.
  • you will surely be amazed at the control you can exercise over what will be shared from your WordPress website/blog.
  • In addition to social sharing, you can also add social follow buttons to encourage your visitors to follow you on social networks.

That's all I'm telling you for now. To find out the rest, let's test it out.

Extending the war metaphor allows me to briefly draw a parallel with the name of the plugin.

The name, Social Warfare, is related to one of the co-creators of this baby: Nicholas Z. Cardot. He's indeed a reservist in the U.S. Army!

After this anecdote, put on your trellis, your boots, and paint your face green and black, if you wish.

In short, do like Alex, who goes to war every day to help you get the most out of WordPress!

Don't forget to take off your makeup before you leave the house, though.

Transparency point: The different links to Social Warfare are affiliate links. That is to say that if you buy this plugin, WPMarmite will get a commission. This pays for the research and writing work of the blog's editors, and allows us to buy and test other plugins.

Our goal is to publish honest reviews, and test plugins to help you make informed choices – not to worship plugins that aren't worth it just to earn commissions. Your trust is our priority.

This post has been updated in April 2020 to reflect the new options introduced by Social Warfare 4.0.

Strategic phase: why use a social sharing plugin?

I might as well tell you right now: the views vary on this topic.

On the one hand, there are those who explain that using the social sharing buttons is useless, and that removing them – provided they are displayed – can increase the conversion rate.

In a study published in June 2017, the American company Moovweb, whose mission is to make conversions on smartphones more efficient than on computers, reveals that only “0.2% of Internet users click on a social sharing button. That's 35% less than on a computer.”

On the other hand, social sharing buttons can also help you.

As our WordPress expert Nicolas explains, these buttons “have another use: social proof […] their real use lies in their counters. The goal is to show your readers that the article they are about to read has already been shared by others. This will make it easier for them to choose to continue reading and, why not, to share afterwards.”

Even though they are supposed to generate few clicks, we can also add that the share buttons can:

  • drive traffic back to your website/blog. Why say no to this?
  • increase your chances of getting backlinks in a natural way. Sharing your content on social networks increases your visibility. If your posts are perceived as high quality content, people will be able to link to your site.
  • enhance user experience. If your visitors find your content relevant and want to share it with their audience, you might as well make it easier for them.

Let's attack: configuration of the plugin

You have two options: use the free version or the paid version. This article focuses mainly on the features of the paid version.

But don't worry, I'll detail the outstanding options of the free version right away.

On the official WordPress repository, you may have noticed that the plugin has many negative reviews (1 star). Most of them are due to feedback from disgruntled users who encountered bugs on their website after the plugin was momentarily infected with malware in March 2019. Despite this, you can rest assured that Social Warfare is a good plugin, otherwise we wouldn't be telling you so much about it.

1. Installation and overview of the free version

To install the free version (60 000+ active installations), log in to your WordPress admin and go to Plugins > Add New.

In the search bar, on the right, type Social Warfare.

Social Warfare plugin

Click the Install Now button and then click Activate. You will notice a Social Warfare section on your admin bar, on the left side of your screen.

Social Warfare menu on WP admin

You will then access a page with 4 tabs (Display, Styles, Social Identity, Advanced).

Social Warfare tabs

Now let's look at the main features:

  • choice of 5 social network sharing buttons (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Mix).
  • selection of button placement (above the content, below the content, both above and below the content, none/manual placement).
  • display of social proof through sharing counters (individual or total sum).
Share counts Social Warfare
  • customization of the floating share buttons (color, position).
  • display of your popular posts based on the number of shares, thanks to a widget that you can integrate into your sidebar, for example.
  • You'll be able to integrate share buttons wherever you want in your content, and even add a Click to tweet module, thanks to the two dedicated Gutenberg blocks.
Social Warfare Gutenberg blocks

And this is the result of the integration of these two blocks in a test post:

Social Warfare integration on page

Don't try to translate: it's Lorem ipsum. And I see you coming. You're thinking: he's teaching us a lesson, but he has 0 shares.

Well yes, I use a local development site. So no one can see my tampering. Makes sense.

First good news: the free version is mouth-watering. And that's nothing compared to what you can expect with the Pro version. Find out now.

2. How do I install Social Warfare Pro?

To begin, go to the official website of the plugin. In the menu at the top of your screen, choose either the “Products” or “Buy” page.

Social Warfare Licence options

You can select one of the following 4 pricings:

  • Single site license: $29/year
  • Up to 5 sites: $89/year
  • Up to 10 10 sites: $139/year
  • unlimited license: $349/year

Once you have made your choice, click on Purchase, and follow the instructions.

After you have paid, you should be able to download a zip file (on the page that summarizes your order or in the Downloads tab of your Social Warfare account).

On your WordPress admin, go to Plugins > Add New. Click on “Upload Plugin” at the top of the page.

Upload plugin Social Warfare

Choose your zip file, then click Install. And don't forget to activate the plugin. The pro version will only work if you have previously installed the free version, also called “core plugin”.

Finally, all the settings are made as in freemium, by clicking on the plugin icon.

Now let's see what Social Warfare Pro has to offer, down to the last detail.

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Social Warfare: the soldier's forces

Easy, Corporal

If you're like me, I bet you hate to use tote plug-ins.

You know, those plugins that want to dazzle you by detailing many features. And then, when you use it, you get lost in it like a maze. Conclusion: Click on Disable, then click on Delete.

I hate wasting my time. I'm sure you do, too, don't you?

With Social Warfare, none of that. Ergonomics, ease of use: that's what you'll notice from your first clicks on the plugin's interface. Dustin Stout, one of the co-founders of this tool, is a well-known web designer. You can feel it.

You will see that all the settings are on one page. In fact, the menu is the same as in the free version. At least you don't need a compass to navigate through it.

Only a Registration tab has appeared, on the right. This is where you will enter your validation key, which allows you to extend the functionality of the plugin.

Social Warfare registration

Among them, I particularly liked:

  • the design of the buttons. They are easily noticeable with bright colors adapted to the feel and look of each social network.
  • drag and drop to choose the order of appearance of the buttons, once integrated into your post or page.
Drag and drop Social Warfare

Drag up the social networks you want to display, and sort them in the order you prefer.

So many options available!

Social Warfare succeeds in offering multiple options, without making the settings complex.

All the classic functionalities are here:

  • choice among 21 icons: several classic social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Whatspp, are included. There are also buttons for printing, emailing, sharing on Evernote, Blogger etc. You will find all these buttons on the Display tab. Notice the presence of a More button. When your visitor clicks on it, all the share buttons will be highlighted in a lightbox.
More button
  • Choice of button locations, always in “Display”. There are 4 main options: above, below, both above and below, and manual (a Gutenberg block allows you to insert them wherever you want in your content, as you've seen before). You can even customize their location according to your custom post types. For instance, you can display your buttons at the top of your pages, and at the top and bottom of your posts.
  • Emphasize button: this functionality allows you to magnify the button (either the first one or the first two) of your choice to make it more attractive. This is smart if you want to emphasize a particular social network. You'll find this setting in the “Display” tab. An example will be more telling, look at the screenshot below:
Emphasize button
  • Possibility to integrate floating buttons (which follow the text on scroll) vertically (on the left of the screen), or horizontally (above and below).
  • You can promote Social Warfare. That's a good way to get people talking about the plugin, but you also have an advantage in using this feature, because you can add an affiliate link to the Social Warfare website. If one of your visitors uses it to purchase a license from them, you will receive a commission.

That's for the appetizers. I hope you're still hungry. Let's move on to the main course.

Awesome sharing buttons

If you've already tested some plugins to display your social share buttons, you must have realized one of their major flaws: they don't always allow you to choose the shape, and especially the colors.

What if you want to match them to the graphic design of your WordPress website/blog? Yep: they can be of no use for your project.

One of the advantages of Social Warfare is that it allows you to precisely customize how they're displaying. In all, there would be 5,000 possible style combinations! I loved that.

All this happens in the “Visual Options” part of the Style tab.

To begin with, 8 button shapes are proposed, as well as 10 color schemes.

Social Warfare button shapes

You can of course choose their size by refining the percentage on the “Button size” line.

But the plugin goes further by allowing you to choose your own background color and hover color. To do this, you can use the settings or a hexadecimal code.

Hover options

I've detailed the process for the horizontal buttons. It works the same way for floating buttons. To do this, go to the Floating Share Buttons section of the Style tab.

To finish with buttons, it is possible to :

  • display the total counts of shares;
  • reveal the number of shares per social network;
  • select the number of shares required before displaying them to your visitors. For social proof, this last option is great.
  • manage the order of placement of share buttons manually, or according to the number of generated shares.

You will find this in the Share Counts section of the Display tab.

Share counts menu

Some social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn have disabled their share counters. To retrieve the number of shares from Twitter, you will need to connect to the OpenShareCount service (or TwitCount.com). Social Warfare offers to do this directly in its settings, but only in its Pro version.

Sharing images in the best possible way

One of the most interesting features of Social Warfare can be found in your text editor. This is a kind of menu, called Social Warfare Custom Options, which allows two basic things:

  • upload your images in the right format for the social network;
  • customize the descriptions that will be shared on social networks.

Let me explain. Let's start with the pictures. You probably know this, but a visual will display differently depending on the social network you use.

Each of them uses different sizes. For example, if you use a horizontal image to illustrate your article, it may be cut off if one of your visitors shares it on Pinterest. How ugly. You don't want that.

The problem with the vast majority of sharing plugins is that they select the front page image to be shared for you.

Not Social Warfare! It allows you to integrate an image in the right format for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. When one of your visitors shares it, the correct format will be used.

This option is great, especially for those of you who use Pinterest. Moreover, you can also include a “Pin” button, which will be activated as soon as a visitor passes his mouse over one of your photos (it can also be activated thanks to the Image Hover Pin Button part of the Display tab).

Open Graph Facebook image
Facebook and LinkedIn Open Graph image
Pinterest image
Pinterest image

The second thing I would like to develop with you is the descriptions. Social Warfare offers the possibility to customize them.

Why is that interesting? By default, the title of your article will be used as a message to users when sharing. It may not always be appropriate. If you use Twitter, maybe you'd like to add hashtags?

Nothing could be simpler with Social Warfare. Take a look at this.

Social Warfare custom tweet

As a bonus, you can even choose the location of your buttons for a specific item/page. The general settings will then not be applied.

For instance, I decided to display in a blog post the share buttons only above the content, and not to add any floating buttons.

Other post options

… Not to mention the presence of Social Follow buttons

When I wrote the first version of this post, in May 2018, I deplored the lack of Social follow buttons, which allow you to direct your visitors to your social profiles so that people can follow you.

At the time, the plugin team told me that they were planning to create a dedicated widget within the year, but before that, adding additional features was their priority.

In the end, it took longer than expected, but the result is there: a social follow widget has arrived in 2020 in Social Warfare 4.0 version. You can add these specific buttons via a widget called Social Warfare Follow Widget.

Depending on what your theme offers, you can spot these buttons in different places like your sidebar, footer, or header.

Concretely, here is how to proceed. On your WordPress admin, go to Appearance > Widgets.

Then add the Social Warfare Follow Widget where is it possible to. For instance, I've included it in my sidebar.

Social Warfare follow widget

On the settings side, you can act on four aspects :

  • The widget title. Call it for example “Follow us on social media”.
  • The button shape: there are 6 possibilities (e.g. block, suare, buttons).
  • Minimum count: I don't really know what this option is for, since it doesn't display the number of subscribers or followers. Set it to 0.
  • The choice of social networks to display. In total, there are 14. All the classics are there: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest etc. For the button(s) to be displayed, simply enter your username for each social network.
Settings sidebar Social Follow

Remember to save the widget when you're done. And go to a post, for example, to see the result integrated in the front-end:

Widgets Social Follow on page

This new option is great. It brings a real added value to the plugin, which becomes even more complete. On the other hand, I've noticed one shortcoming.

The Social Follow buttons can only be added in a widget area. In other words, it is not possible to incorporate them at the end of a blog post or a page.

A specific Gutenberg block, or even a shortcode (as does Monarch from Elegant Themes, one of Social Warfare's competitors) would have been a plus for the user.

Share recovery: don't lose your number of shares anymore

Catastrophe for your social proof: you have just modified the structure of your URLs, by changing your permalinks. And by the way, all your share counters reset.

Many hours of hard work gone up in smoke. In one click. But Social Warfare can make you smile again! Its caching system allows you to retrieve your numbers.

To do this, go to the “Share recovery” tab of the Advanced tab. Set the first button to “On“. Then select:

  • your old permalink structure;
  • the custom size of your permalinks, if any;
  • your connection protocol (http:// or https://);
  • the prefix of your old domain name (with or without www);
  • your subdomain, if you have one;
  • and even your old domain name if you have migrated.

Of course, if the above data has not changed, leave the fields blank or set to “Unchanged”. There you go, that's it. Everything should be back to normal within 24 hours.

Share recovery

Track your shares

Thanks to the Analytics Tracking section, you will be able to activate a tracking of shared links through the Social Warfare share buttons. The prerequisite is to have a Google Analytics account, of course.

This option will allow you to know exactly the traffic redirected to your site, thanks to the plugin.

You do not need to enter an Analytics code to do this. Tracking is done automatically by activating the “UTM Link Tracking” button, and/or the one called “Button Click Tracking”, as on the screenshot below.

Analytics tracking

Without going into details, as this is not the purpose of this article, I will briefly explain what UTM means. This acronym stands for “Urching Tracking Machine”. It is “a URL tracking system used in digital marketing campaigns that identifies and tracks traffic from campaigns in the Google Analytics interface”.

If you want to dive deeper into the subject, I recommend reading this article by Dustin Stout, one of the creators of Social Warfare. It's quite technical, but it's very detailed.

Finally, note that Social Warfare allows you to automatically shorten your sharing links using the Bit.ly or Rebrandly services. This is done via the “Link shortening” tab.

Responsiveness

In the age of mobile-first, it is essential that your site is responsive, i.e. that it adapts to all types of devices (computers, tablets, smartphones). The same goes for the plugins you use.

I put Social Warfare to the test. Result: the test is conclusive. The plugin is 100% responsive and displays perfectly regardless of your screen resolution.

For a first check, you can, for example, minimize your browser window manually :

Responsiveness on Social Warfare

What about performance?

A “lightning fast” plugin. This is what the creators of Social Warfare claim. In particular, they have focused their communication and sales pitch on performance.

Their plugin is meant to be light, well-coded and won't slow down your site, unlike most competing extensions.

I did the test using the WebPageTest service, with and without the plugin enabled. Result: no impact on the site's loading speed.

By the way, if you want to optimize the performance of your WordPress, take a look at this article Florian wrote on WPMarmite: “How to speed up your WordPress site without breaking the bank”.

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You're done discovering the highlights of this plugin. I propose that we now discuss its weak points. There isn't so many of them: it will be much quicker.

Weaknesses of the soldier

To my mind, the major weakness of the plugin lies on its price if you want to use it on unlimited websites.

If you want to use the plugin on a single WP website, the offer is not excessive (29$/year) because the plugin does the job very well.

Note that between the publication of this update and the writing of the first version of this post, Social Warfare has lowered the prices of its two intermediate offers:

  • The 5 sites offer went from 135$/year to 89$/year.
  • The 10 sites offer went from $250/year to $139/year.

On the other hand, the price of the unlimited offer did not move one iota: $349/year. An almost prohibitive price if you have a lot of sites to administer and/or a tight budget.

In comparison, Monarch, one of its main competitors, is included in a global package charged $89/year, and usable on an unlimited number of sites. You'll also have access to 87 themes, including the famous Divi, and the Bloom plugin to create opt-in forms.

And one last thing about the weaknesses: I remind you that the Social Follow buttons can only be added in a widget area.

Final Assault

Social Warfare free vs. pro

Now that you have a global vision of the plugin, you have to ask yourself if investing a little money in the pro version is worth it.

To help you, let's recap what it offers in addition to the free version:

  • more social networks, even if the classics are also added to the “free” version (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn);
  • the “Social Warfare Custom Options” feature, which almost alone justifies the investment in the pro version, if you're wondering;
  • options to customize the location and style of your far superior buttons (color, background and hover appearance);
  • the “Share recovery” option, which offers the possibility to recover your share counters if you change your URLs;
  • additional options regarding Twitter. It is possible to choose a Click to tweet style directly in the plugin settings. And to track the number of tweets, you can choose one of the two tools with which Social Warfare provides (TwitCount.com or OpenShareCount.com).
  • advanced Pinterest settings: to control even more the content your visitors share on Pinterest. In your content (e.g. blog post), you can for example offer several custom Pinterest images ready to be shared on the social network. Your visitors will then choose the one they like the most.
  • bit.ly et Rebrandly services to shorten your URLs;
  • Google Analytics tracking, to keep an eye on the visits generated by the shares.

Who is this plugin for?

You are about to finish reading this test. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on Social Warfare and that you get my point.

In a nutshell, I particularly recommend this plugin if :

  • you want to try to increase the shares on your social networks and the traffic on your site;
  • you are a beginner or an experienced WordPress user. Social Warfare is easy to use and is suitable for all types of audiences;
  • you use Pinterest a lot. The plugin will be very good for other social networks, but its creators have particularly optimized it for Pinterest;
  • you don't want to invest too much in a sharing plugin. The Pro pack starts at $29/year, which is still affordable. If you plan to use it on an unlimited number of sites, you will have to plan a (very) large budget.

In any case, WPMarmite is convinced by this plugin, which we've been using for a few years.

Now it's time to put it all into action.

Start by explaining to me, in the comment section, which version you're going to use (free or premium). Or if you don't use Social Warfare, what plugin did you choose?

Let me know right below.

And if you feel that this article can be useful to others, feel free to share it on social networks (thanks to Social Warfare 😉 ).