Staying Social in 2013

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Over the last few years social networks have made a huge impact on how businesses operate (to say the least), and Web workers should know that there are no signs of this trend slowing down anytime soon.

Not only do most businesses manage social profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter, but developers have also worked hard to stay connected with consumers by integrating social features into websites, such as “share” and “follow’ buttons. In fact, the Internet is full of extensions, applications, technologies and services that can help customers connect better with brands on the Web.

From plugins that make a site’s comment section more social to apps that display user-generated images, developers have a plethora of options for making websites more social in 2013. Learn more about these social technologies below:

Echo

Echo is a real-time platform offers a variety of tools to drive engagement. For example, the company launched a pinboard visualization plugin in October, which enables brands to display real-time content in a pinboard style layout. Web workers can leverage the plugin to add real-time content such as tweets, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, Spotify tracks and even store merchandise.

Building on the pinboard plugin’s technology, application provider Chute recently launched the Chute Media Galley app, which is available within Echo’s App Echosystem. Chute Media Gallery enables Web workers to feature real-time photo walls about any topic on their sites. The photo galleries can be customized for a specific hashtag, search term or user account, and the photos can be generated from a user’s local hard drive, as well as photo sites like Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, Twitter and Instagram.


Telescope

Telescope is an open-source social news application, currently in beta, which provides Web workers with a way to implement real-time social news functionality on their sites. The platform is built with real-time Javascript framework provider Meteor, and it supports real-time updates, post categories, invite-only access, email or Twitter authentication, day-by-day digest view, posting rate limits and notifications.


Socialist

Socialist is a jQuery plugin that helps users aggregate their social media activity into a singular location. Users can combine their social feeds from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and Craigslist, to name a few. The social feed is displayed in a Pinterest style layout, which can be integrated into a website. Moreover, the plugin is customizable and comes with its own CSS file that can be modified so that developers can control elements such as the length of headers and text, the number of results and the size of items.


AddShoppers

AddShoppers offers social applications that are designed specifically for Merchants. For example, the company’s social sharing buttons feature Facebook “Want” and “Own” icons, which enable consumers to spread the word about their favorite products and also helps merchants gain additional insights into their customers’ purchasing habits. 

Furthermore, AddShoppers offers a rewards app, which merchants can leverage to incentivize purchases, increase engagement and lower shopping cart abandonment. According to AddShoppers, this app can help increase sharing metrics by more than 200 percent.


Achievements for BuddyPress

This gamification plugin is built for the popular BuddyPress Community platform for WordPress. The plugin helps users promote and reward social interactions with challenges, badges and points. For example, the plugin can be configured to reward site visitors for actions such as commenting on a blog post or uploading a picture to their profile.


LinkedIn Plugins

Most brands have Facebook “like” and “share” and Twitter “follow” and “tweet” buttons on their websites, however, many Web workers forget to include the LinkedIn “follow company” button on their sites. The most popular professional social network launched the follow company button in February, and once implemented, the button enables site visitors to follow a company on LinkedIn with just one click.


AddThis

Although AddThis has been a well-known social plugin provider for quite some time, the company launched a few new plugins in 2012 that are worth noting. For example, the social sign-in plugin enables Web workers to include social sign-in functionality to their sites. This allows site visitors to log in to a website using their existing social profiles from three of the Web’s largest social networks – Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

Additionally, AddThis launched a few other social tools this year, including a new Follow tool that enables site visitors to subscribe to a social profile with just one click, as well as a Trending Content plugin that helps publishers promote content and a Welcome extension, which enables publishers to greet site visitors with a personalized message and call-to-action.


Facebook Plugins

Facebook developed a host of tools that can help Web workers make their sites more social, including the Recommendations Bar. This social plugin can be integrated into a content publisher’s website to help readers discover articles based on what their friends like and share. The bar appears at the bottom of the screen as someone reads an article on a participating publisher’s website. It features two alternate article recommendations and displays information for which friends have interacted with the article on Facebook.

However, this is far from Facebook’s only social plugin. For example, the Comments plugin is also leveraged by a number of sites, including the Chicago Tribune. This social feature enables developers to add a social comment section onto their sites. By doing this, fans are able to respond to discussions by liking or replying to comments directly in the Facebook News Feed or within the comments section of a website.


Pinterest RSS Widget

This Pinterest plugin for WordPress sites allows bloggers to add a widget within their sidebars that retrieves recent content from a Pinterest user’s RSS feed and displays corresponding thumbnail images. Users can also customize elements of this plugin, such as whether or not to show a description for an image, as well as the height and width of thumbnails.


Disqus

Website Magazine recently featured Disqus in the article, “The 25 Best WordPress Plugins Ever.” While it doesn’t have any direct connection with a specific social site, this Wordpress plugin is one of the best comment systems for fostering a community on your website as well as increasing engagement amongst site visitors.


What is your favorite social technology? Let us know in the comments section below.

 
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