Social Media Plugins for Publishers

Top 7 Social Media Plugins for News Publishers

Most Americans get their news through social media. So how do you make sure your news stories are being seen front and center? The easiest way is by adding social media plugins to your WordPress website.

If you’re a publisher with a WordPress website, then social media plugins can help you encourage readers to share your content on their own social channels, which increases your website’s visibility on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Roughly two-thirds of Americans now say they get their news on social media, according to Pew Research Center, with much of that content coming from the links posted by their friends, family, and other people they follow. When you find a way to get people sharing your stories on their own social media profiles, you expand your network and build awareness among consumers who could become regular readers, or even paying subscribers.

Of course, despite the upside to encouraging social sharing, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work in this situation. To get the most bang for their buck, news publishers need to look at which features the top social media plugins offer and which mechanisms those plugins use to encourage readers to click “share.”

Here are 7 of the top social media plugins being used by news publishers right now.

Top Social Media Plugins for News Publishers

1. Monarch
The Monarch social sharing plugin was developed by the WordPress theme designer Elegant Themes, but its features and functionalities go beyond just aesthetics. With Monarch, publishers can choose from more than 20 social sharing networks to display on their websites, usually beside articles and other editorial content. Monarch’s plugin stands apart in its ability to let publishers create automatic sharing pop-ups that can be triggered by timed delays, such as when a reader reaches the end of an article or when a reader is about to click away from the website. Monarch actually offers six different automatic pop-ups and fly-ins, each with its own triggers, along with tools for displaying social follower counts and a dashboard for tracking stats and other data.

2. Sassy Social Share
Sassy Social Share is a simple plugin for news publishers who want to increase the number of times their articles, videos, and other content are shared by readers on social media. Sassy Social Share connects with more than 100 social sharing and bookmarking services, including Reddit, Pinterest, Whatsapp, and Tumblr. The plugin is GDPR compliant, and it is compatible with Gutenberg editor. It’s also compatible with myCRED and AMP, and it supports HTTPS enabled websites, although it does not work on local servers. The plugin includes free icon customization options, as well.

3. Social Snap
Social Snap calls itself the ultimate WordPress social media plugin. The plugin gives publishers full control over how and who shares their content on social media platforms. In addition to giving publishers a way to create and place customized share buttons anywhere on their websites, the plugin lets publishers choose from more than 30 social networks and apps when deciding where visitors should be allowed to share content. The way that shared content is displayed on the reader’s social media profile can be controlled by the publisher. Social Snap’s plugin also includes a share counter tool that tracks and displays share counts via API and click tracking.

4. WordPress to Buffer
For news publishers who use Buffer to schedule posts and analyze article performance, the WordPress to Buffer plugin is a no-brainer. One of the most recommended social media plugins for news publishers, the WordPress to Buffer plugin will automatically post scheduled articles, posts, pages, and custom post types to a publisher’s Buffer account for scheduled publishing on social networks. Like Buffer, the WordPress to Buffer plugin supports all the most popular social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. With the upgraded WordPress to Buffer Pro, publishers have access to additional features, including multiple, customizable status messages and separate options per social network.

5. Social Warfare
Like most of the other social media plugins on this list, Social Warfare’s WordPress plugin boasts an impressive number of social sharing buttons for publishers to choose from, along with the ability to select where those buttons should show up on any webpage. What really helps Social Warfare stand out, though, are the premium social sharing options available to publishers with Pro licenses. Pro license holders can customize how their content is shared through social media. For example, Social Warfare Pro users can decide exactly which images, titles, and descriptions appear when their content is shared on Pinterest or Facebook.

6. Yoast
Although Yoast is primarily known as an SEO plugin, the company’s WordPress plugin includes features designed to help publishers attract more visitors from social media platforms. For example, publishers with Premium accounts can see what their webpages will look like when they are shared on Facebook or Twitter, including whether the headline fits and whether the image that displays matches the article content. Another option, frequently used by news publishers, is to set a template to ensure any content posted to social media stands out and looks professional.

7. Better Click to Tweet
Publishers who have the goal of making it as easy as possible for readers to share their stories on Twitter can use the Better Click to Tweet plugin. The plugin gives publishers a way to create Click to Tweet boxes, which can be easily inserted at the bottom of articles and other website content using a short-code in the format. Better Click To Tweet gives users the maximum number of characters possible by working alongside other plugins to automatically shorten URLs. Advanced users, including developers and publishers who are comfortable with CSS, can take advantage of Better Click to Tweet’s custom styles and advanced options, like using nofollow links and eliminating the URL from tweets.

WordPress vs Wagtail

Publishers Are Choosing WordPress Over Wagtail — Here’s Why

Digital publishers who are looking for self-hosted content management systems have dozens of options to choose from, but WordPress has become the de facto choice for anyone who is serious about online publishing. Why is that, and what makes the WordPress (WP) platform a better fit for publishers than Wagtail?

In this article, we will take a look at both self-hosted content management systems. We will discuss what WordPress and Wagtail are, what makes each platform unique, and why so many publishers are opting for WordPress over Wagtail.

What Is WordPress?

On WordPress’ own website, the company describes itself as open source software that publishers can use to create beautiful websites, blogs, and apps. Sixty million people have chosen to use WP, and the company’s self-hosted content management system now powers 32% of the web. That figure encompasses everything from small hobby blogs to some of the largest digital news websites in the world.

The basic functionality of WP is extended thanks to the 45,000+ plugins that developers have created to meet the needs of publishers. Plugins can be used to add online stores, galleries, mailing lists, forums, and thousands of other specialized features to any WP website.

WP is also home to a community of hundreds of thousands of developers, content creators, and website owners. These professionals gather at monthly meet ups in more than 400 cities.

WordPress software is not the same as WordPress.com. WP software, which is what we are discussing in this article, is a self-hosted content management system. WordPress.com is a hosted WP environment that is run on a modified version of WP and owned by Automattic.


How WordPress Works

Publishers can use WordPress software to create any type of website. Personal blogs, business websites, professional portfolios, government websites, digital magazines, news websites, online communities, and even networks of websites can all be created with WP.

Nearly everyone has heard about WordPress’ five-minute installation at this point. It’s a big selling feature, and that’s for good reason. TheWP platform is setup to put users at ease, with a navigation system that is incredibly intuitive.

Although WP comes bundled with two default themes, the majority of publishers use WordPress’ theme directory when they setup their websites. WordPress’ theme directory has thousands of themes to choose from, each giving websites a different flare. The company has also made it easy for publishers to upload their own themes in order to give their websites complete makeovers.

Using WordPress’ straightforward publishing tools, content creators can generate pages and posts in minutes. Individual pages and posts are then formatted, media is inserted, and the content goes live on the website. Well-designed publishing tools allow writers to create drafts, schedule publication, and look at post revisions through their content management system. WordPress websites are optimized for search engines right out of the box. SEO plugins are also available. (We’ll dig deeper into plugins a little later in this article.)

Complete flexibility means publishers who use WP have the option to keep their content private or make it public. Passwords can be setup to keep posts and pages secure. Individual user accounts can also be created to give administrators, editors, authors, and contributors unique levels of access.

Upgraded functionalities, like complex galleries, social networking, forums, social media widgets, spam protection, forms, and calendars, are all managed through plugins. These plugins are made available through WordPress’ plugin directory.

What Is Wagtail?

Wagtail is an open source content management system that was started in 2014 by the digital agency Torchbox. Wagtail was built on the Django framework. Wagtail is written in the Python programming language and maintained by a small team of contributors. The platform was originally built for the Royal College of Art.

Wagtail integrates into publishers’ existing CRM and marketing automation platforms, as well as a handful of ticketing, payment fulfillment, and event management systems. New versions of Wagtail come out every two months, with a mixture of upgraded features and improvements.


How Wagtail Works

Websites built on Wagtail’s content management system are organized into sequences of blocks, which developers use to rearrange different types of content. That process can seem too advanced to publishers who are just launching their websites or learning about how to build websites for the first time. Most publishers will find that Wagtail requires a level of user sophistication that they are not prepared for.

Because Wagtail was made with sophisticated developers in mind, the platform is not always intuitive. It does, however, work with some of the third-party tools that developers regularly use. Anything a developer can do in Python—including machine learning, image manipulation, and PDF generation—can be done in Wagtail.

Those publishers who feel comfortable digging around under the hood can use Wagtail’s A/B testing feature to optimize their clients’ websites. This is something that’s usually reserved for closed-source enterprise content management systems. Wagtail also offers a built-in API and a templating system.

WordPress vs. Wagtail

Given that WordPress and Wagtail offer a number of similar features, there is a question of which self-hosted content management system is better for digital publishers.

The truth is, almost anything that can be done on Wagtail can also be done on WP. The only difference is that WordPress makes it easier and cheaper. Newcomers appreciate WP because the software itself is incredibly simple. This simplicity allows them to get started quickly, with minimal setup and hassles. And to top it off, WordPress has a much lower total cost of ownership.

The day-to-day publishing experience onWP is far beyond what Wagtail can provide. Thanks in large part to WordPress’ incredible community of hundreds of thousands of developers, publishers have thousands of plugins and themes to choose from. These plugins and themes can transform their websites into anything under the sun.

WordPress has far greater adoption for a reason. Nearly 5,000 companies on StackShare use WP, compared to just 6 that use Wagtail.WP is used by global powerhouses like eBay, Mozilla, TechCrunch, and 37Signals.

Among publishing industry veterans, WP has become the de facto choice because of its product feature set, as well as its reliability and its community of hundreds of thousands of developers and content creators. The availability of reliable WordPress developers is so far beyond the number of reliable python developers, that it doesn’t make sense for publishers to lock themselves in to a system that will be harder and more expensive to manage.

With so few developers on board, it can take Wagtail a long time to release new updates. The company itself says it releases new versions once every two months.

WordPress vs Wagtail Stack


Why Do Publishers Prefer WordPress over Wagtail?

WordPress has greater adoption and it is far more utilized for a reason. The platform is dead simple to use, and it can be customized as much as publishers want. Most novice publishers feel that they have nothing to lose by starting out on the WP platform. The platform itself is completely free. A number of the plugins that make websites more customized are free, as well.

In comparing WordPress to Wagtail, it’s clear that these platforms have very different end users in mind. Wagtail’s focus is much more on sophisticated developers, and publishers without extensive technology backgrounds can find the platform difficult to use. WP is straightforward enough that anyone should be able to use the content management system, not just web professionals. Non-tech colleagues—such as writers, editors, and other company administrators—should be able to update website content and add blog posts on their own when they are using WordPress.

Publishers, in particular, tend to be very concerned with search engine optimization. With WordPress, publishers can create readable permalinks to individual pages and blog posts. They can also install themes designed to meet the latest best practices for SEO.

Publishers who use WordPress are able to do everything they can with Wagtail — and much more. Thousands of plugins and themes fill the gaps for WordPress users. Because Wagtail’s developer community is much smaller, those options and capabilities are just not available.

These are specific things that WordPress does particularly well, leading many publishers to choose WordPress over other content management systems.

• Completely customizable
• Websites are simple to manage
• Thousands of plugins and themes
• Packed with features for every user
• Rapid website development
• Generates code in full compliance with standards set by the W3C
• Large developer community

When Is WordPress the Best Fit?

The vast majority of publishers will find that WP provides them with more options for customization and a greater level of flexibility. WP is built to help people get their websites up and their content out to the public. That means websites with a substantial blog component, with basic information architecture, work particularly well with the WordPress platform.

Picking from WordPress’ extensive plugin directory, publishers can add any number of features to their websites. They can even fine-tune their search engine optimization without relying on outside experts for support.

When Is Wagtail the Best Fit?

Unfortunately, Wagtail is almost never a better fit for publishers than WordPress. Wagtail generally requires long timelines, something developers and publishers rarely have, and it lacks the simplicity in design of WordPress. Overly-complicated features can make Wagtail challenging for publishers to use, as well.

The Wagtail platform is very young, which means it hasn’t been tested nearly as extensively as WP. Youth can give some software developers an edge, but not in this case. Developers can’t afford to leave their website performance up to chance, and using a platform that hasn’t been around for many years is a risk that developers should not be willing to take.

Finally, Wagtail’s developer community is still much smaller than WordPress’. The developer community that WP has cultivated over the years as impressive in its size and depth. Publishers should think long and hard about whether they are willing to take the risk of using a platform that so few developers are willing to be a part of.


Publishers will find that WordPress offers more of the features they are looking for, without the complexities that they are hoping to avoid.

Although there was once a perception that WP was designed for publishers looking for quick and simple setups, this is no longer the case. WordPress’ plugins make it ideal for larger projects, as well as smaller projects. WordPress’ large developer community helps to keep the platform fresh, and underlying worries about security and slow load times are minimized.

WP Engine Announces New Plans: What It Means for Local Publishers

The times they are a changin’. Less than two months after WP Engine announced that it had raised $250 million in funding, the omnipresent WordPress host is changing its plans and pricing structure. In an announcement sent to its digital partners on Monday, WP Engine debuted its WordPress Digital Experience Platform (DXP), along with new plans and add-on features.

WP Engine’s updated plans put a greater focus on customization and flexibility, while taking advantage of the company’s WordPress Digital Experience Platform.

Although prices have gone up across the board, the company is hoping that customers will be persuaded to stick around with add-on features such as GeoTarget and Content Performance, which were previously reserved for customers with higher-end plans. WP Engine is also now offering CDN, for faster content delivery, on all new plans, along with SSL certificates for data encryption, and three environments for development, staging, and production.

Let’s take a closer look at what WP Engine’s plans and pricing changes mean for existing customers.

  • Prices are up across the board. WP Engine’s new plans start at $35 (Startup plan), $115 (Growth plan), and $290 (Scale plan) per month, compared to current pricing at $29 (Personal plan), $99 (Professional plan), and $249 (Business plan) per month.
  • Additional features for clients with Startup plans. CDN and SSL Page Performance Site migration are included for free with WP Engine’s new Startup, Growth, and Scale plans. Previously, CDN cost $19.95 per month for customers with Personal plans.
  • New site limits are in effect. With WP Engine’s new plans, customers with Startup plans are limited to 1 site, customers with Growth plans are limited to 5 sites, and customers with Scale plans are limited to 15 sites. Additional sites can be added on for $20 per site, per month, at any plan level.
  • Some terminology is changing. WP Engine’s new plans include “sites,” which are slightly different from “installs” on the older plans. Each site includes three environments, development, staging, and production. For existing users, the install count will not be changing.
  • More customization features are available at all plan levels. GeoTarget or Content Performance, which were previously reserved for customers on Business plans, are now available as add-on features regardless of plan level.
  • Business plan customers get add-ons at no cost. The current Business plan supports Multisite, GeoTarget, and Content Performance. Once Business plan customers roll into WP Engine’s new Scale plan, these add-ons will be included in their plans at no extra cost.
  • Monthly visitors remain unchanged. WP Engine’s new Startup, Growth, and Scale plans allow for 25,000, 100,000, and 400,000 visitors per month, which is the same as the company’s older plans.

Are these changes significant enough to cause an exodus from WP Engine? Only time will tell. For budget-conscious publishers, WP Engine’s price increase may warrant a closer look at alternative solutions, such as Flywheel. We’ve migrated a handful of independent publishers to Flywheel from WP Engine and have not had any issues. Their free migration service will work for most publishers but some sites that have custom setups may still need a manual migration.

Flywheel is one of a handful of competing WordPress hosting and management solutions with a loyal following among independent publishers. Like WP Engine, Flywheel was custom built for WordPress with fast load times and a streamlined dashboard.

Flywheel’s Single-site plans start at $15 per month (for the Tiny plan) and go up to $75 per month (for the Professional plan).Bulk plans (10+ WordPress sites) range in price from $100 per month (for the Freelance plan) to $250 per month (for the Agency plan). They also offer the option to pay annually for all plans, which comes with a discount for a free month.

Although Flywheel has a smaller price tag, its least expensive plan allows for just 5,000 visitors monthly, compared to 25,000 with WP Engine’s Startup plan. Flywheel also charges $10 per month for CDN for clients with Tiny and Personal plans, whereas WP Engine is now offering a CDN for free. Flywheel also recently added live chat support to rival the 24/7 support offered by WP Engine.

While there is no doubt that WP Engine is still the leader in WordPress hosting, Flywheel’s lower price point makes it a viable alternative for publishers looking to take the leap.

While Flywheel’s Tiny plan is best suited for small sites (5,000 monthly visitors), the Personal plan matches WP Engine’s Startup plan with 25,000 visitors and only costs $30 a month (as opposed to $35 at WP Engine). Other than the Tiny plan, all Flywheel sites come with a free staging site. Every plan also includes free SSL certificates, free nightly backups, free malware removal, and free migrations to the platform. And for anyone developing sites locally, they have Local by Flywheel, a free local development app that connects to their hosting platform to easily push sites live or pull sites down to your local machine.

Tired of getting emails from WP Engine saying you’ve outgrown your current plan and will need to upgrade? Well this is another area where Flywheel wins over WP Engine, check out their page that outlines the policy on overages and their “no penalty” policy: https://getflywheel.com/overages/


Launching a News Website

5 Steps to Launching a News Website

It all starts with a great idea. That’s the first step in launching a news website. But turning a great idea for a website into a viable business can get tricky.

Launching a news website doesn’t have to be expensive, and would-be entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need to be technically savvy to pull it off. As publishing tools have gotten easier to use, the number of independent news websites has grown. In the past two years alone, there’s been a 50% increase in publishers joining the Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, an organization that serves hyperlocal news operations.

What would-be publishers need in order to turn their ideas for niche publications into sustainable businesses is a strategic plan that encompasses editorial, business, and marketing.

5 steps to launching a news website

Step 1: Create a business plan

Launching a news website isn’t much different from launching a print newspaper or any other type of business. Everything begins with a business plan.

Come up with a mission for your publication—for example, “to educate members of the community about local politics”—and jot down some ideas about the topics you plan to cover. Once you’ve nailed down the editorial side of the operation, you’ll be better prepared to think objectively about how to generate revenue.

Use your business plan to outline your revenue strategies, which might include things like selling advertising, charging for subscriptions, or producing sponsored content. Looking at how much revenue you expect to generate can also help determine whether you’ll be hiring any writers or editors. A budget may also be necessary as a way to allocate resources.

Step 2: Select a platform

The most popular platform for local news websites is WordPress. In fact, more than one-quarter of the web—from bloggers to international media outlets—uses WordPress. Among independent publishers, specifically, WordPress has become popular because it’s low cost and easy-to-use. However, the specifics of your business plan will dictate which publishing platform is right for you.

When selecting a publishing platform, stick to those that offer flexibility and scalability. The last thing you want is to have to switch platforms right as your publication takes off. The best publishing platforms offer customizable designs, responsive sites, high security, and they’re SEO friendly.

Step 3: Choose the best plugins

Plugins will help expand the functionality of your WordPress website. Adding a plugin to a WordPress website is a way to gain access to a new feature without paying a developer to create that feature from scratch. For example, a publisher might use the Events Calendar by Modern Tribe plugin to add a fully responsive community calendar, or he might use the WooCommerce plugin to start selling physical and digital goods. Another popular plugin among online publishers is the Google Analytics plugin.

Check out this list of the top WordPress plugins for publishers for a more comprehensive look at how plugins can be used to improve the functionality of a local news site.

Step 4: Write valuable content

Once you’ve got a business plan in place and a website setup, it’s time to get going. Start putting together editorial content that aligns with your mission. Write articles, take photographs, and put together infographics or videos that will get readers excited about your publication.

Use the first few weeks as a testing period to determine whether you’re capable of putting together the content you envisioned on your own, or if you’ll need to hire outside writers and editors for help. Experienced writers will be able to write headlines with SEO in mind and put together content that impacts readers in a way that will drive traffic and boost readership.

Step 5: Start looking for advertisers

Advertisers will usually need to see a product before they agree to start advertising on your website, so hold off on looking for advertisers until you’ve started churning out editorial content at a regular pace. The specifics of your business plan will dictate where advertising revenue comes from. A few publishers will keep their websites as a personal hobby, and they can skip this step altogether. The vast majority of digital publishers will need to select an ad server before they can start accepting advertising. Many independent news publishers work with an ad serving solution like Broadstreet, while smaller bloggers tend to begin with Google AdSense before they branch out into more profitable avenues.

If you’d like to see examples of how others have gone about launching publications from scratch, check out publishers like Bklyner, Brentwood Home Page, and Baristanet. These publishers have all gone through the necessary steps to build thriving online businesses.

If you need help with any of the steps listed above, feel free to get in contact for a free video website evaluation.

Best CMS Platforms

Choosing the Best CMS: Open-Source vs. Closed Source

Open-source vs. closed. For independent publishers looking to build or revamp their websites, there might be no greater question.

Choosing the right content management system (CMS) is one of the first decisions a publisher makes, and within the broad category of CMS platforms are both open-source and closed solutions.

A content management system is the backbone of a website, supporting the publishing and editing of all digital content. For publishers, choosing the best CMS is extremely important because nearly every member of the organization will interact with the software on a daily basis. Behind every blog and digital newspaper, there’s a CMS doing the heavy lifting. But some CMS platforms do more of the heavy lifting than others.

The first step to finding the best CMS is to look at whether the platform is open-source or closed. While WordPress is the most well-known and popular of the open-source solutions, there are a number of lesser-known platforms, such as Drupal and Joomla, that are also used by online newspapers, magazines, and blogs to publish content on the web. With a large community of users, open-source CMS platforms like WordPress are often considered to be the easiest and most straightforward option for independent publishers.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are closed CMS platforms. Solutions such as Rivista, Haven Nexus, and Metro Publisher all fall into this category. Closed CMS platforms are like prefab homes, in that they’re designed to be used by organizations in a specific industry with little to do in the way of customization. While the initial costs with a closed CMS are sometimes lower, many proprietary systems come with expensive monthly or yearly premiums, and exporting data can be tricky.

Here are four additional questions to consider when choosing the best CMS for your publication:

What is the interface like?

Reporters, editors, and other members of your publication’s team will be interacting with the CMS on a daily basis, so it’s important to choose a solution with an interface that’s easy to use. Content needs and brand guidelines play a major role in determining how well a particular CMS will work for a publication. Although there is something to be said for personal preference, open-source solutions like WordPress usually win out when it comes to the interface and usability.

Can I customize the system?

Publishers who want a unique look or custom features on their websites will often be better off with an open-source CMS platform, since closed systems can limit the options available. Using plugins and extensions, publishers can customize their WordPress websites for a fraction of the price that they could expect to pay with a closed system.

Even publishers who feel comfortable with an out-of-the-box template website with a closed CMS should consider any changes or upgrades they may want to make as their publications grow in the future. Publishers who choose open-source platforms can make modifications at any time, with or without the help of a developer, depending on their level of expertise. While customizations on an open-source platform may cost extra, this is usually a one-time cost—versus an ongoing expense. Still, publishers should take pricing into consideration when selecting the best CMS.

How frequently is the system updated?

A closed CMS may not be updated as frequently as an open-source system. Publishers who opt for an open-source solution like WordPress benefit from the community, with a team that’s dedicated to enhancing features based on the latest advancements in technology and web security.

While there are some CMS vendors that do an adequate job of rolling out software updates at regular intervals, the vast majority of these providers have systems that are largely considered outdated. If you are thinking of going with a closed CMS, request a change log from the vendor to see how frequently upgrades are being made before making a final decision.

Will I be handcuffed to a system?

What happens when it’s time to migrate from one CMS to another? Exporting data from a closed system to an open-system or even one closed system to another can be challenging and very expensive. Open-source solutions, such as WordPress make it easier to be “platform independent,” meaning that you can expect a smoother transition moving data from one platform to another if you decide to make a change in the future.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding the best CMS platform, most independent publishers with local news websites will find that open-source platforms, such as WordPress, offer the most flexibility with better pricing than what’s available through closed solutions.