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.

SEO Plugins for News Publishers

Top SEO Plugins for News Publishers

Start using the best SEO plugins for news publishers to increase your website traffic.

As more publishers switch their websites over to WordPress, there is greater interest in learning how plugins can extend the functionality of news websites. Plugins, which are pieces of software with groups of functions that can be added to WordPress websites, are written in PHP programming language.

One of the most popular plugin functions, for news publishers who are interested in growing their businesses, is search engine optimization, or SEO. Although WordPress is already a fairly search engine-friendly platform, plugins can help publishers extend their reach and ensure their articles receive high positions in Google and Bing search results.

Here are the top six SEO plugins for news publishers who want to ensure their websites show up in prominent positions in search results.

Top SEO Plugins for News Publishers

1. Yoast Plugin

Yoast is the most well-known of all the SEO plugins for news publishers. The plugin handles technical optimization and assists editors and writers in optimizing content before they hit “publish.” Although Yoast offers both a free and a premium version of its SEO plugin, the premium version is more popular—and more widely used—among news publishers.
With the Yoast SEO Premium plugin, publishers can optimize their content for keywords, keyphrases, synonyms, related keywords, and all word forms of those. Yoast can also keep an eye on a publisher’s most important pages and send out warnings when those pages haven’t been updated in six months. The Yoast plugin works both in WordPress’ classic editor and in Gutenberg.

2. SEOPress Plugin

News publishers who are invested in trying to improve their website rankings in popular search engines can use the SEOPress WordPress plugin to boost traffic and social sharing. The SEOPress plugin works incredibly quickly, and it can be used to build custom HTML and XML sitemaps, add schemas, and manage redirects of 301s. The plugin can be setup to remove both stopwords and /category/ in URLs, as well. SEOPress works on a freemium model. A number of features are available for free, however advanced features are reserved for publishers with Pro accounts.

3. SEMrush SEO Plugin

The SEMrush SEO plugin works a little differently than other SEO plugins favored by news publishers. The plugin actually offers up instant recommendations for content optimization, allowing reporters and editors to meet various content-quality requirements before they click “Publish.”

Publishers will need to connect or register their SEMrush accounts to use the WordPress plugin, and then set target keywords to get recommendations for content. SEMrush also lets writers set target locations and devices (like desktop or mobile), along with SEO content templates to promote cohesiveness among larger news teams. Although SEMrush’s SEO Writing Assistant plugin is free, users will need an SEMrush account to create an SEO content template.

4. All in One SEO Pack Plugin

All in One SEO Pack has positioned itself as a competitor to Yoast with its comprehensive WordPress plugin. The plugin works out-of-the-box for beginners, with advanced features like XML sitemap support, Google AMP support, Google Analytics support, and support for SEO on custom post types. The All in One SEO Pack plugin generates meta tags and automatically optimizes article titles for Google rankings. All in One SEO Pack is a free plugin for news publishers.

5. Broken Link Checker Plugin

The Broken Link Checker plugin does one main task, and it does it well. As you may have guessed from the name, the Broken Link Checker WordPress plugin monitors publishers’ websites and fixes broken links. It also fixes missing images. Both of these issues can derail a news publisher’s SEO, so Broken Link Checker fills a vital role. When Broken Link Checker detects links that don’t work, or missing images, the plugin notifies the publisher via the dashboard or by email. Optional features can be setup to make broken links display differently in articles and prevent search engines from following broken links. Broken Link Checker is a free plugin.

6. Rel Nofollow Plugin

Just like the Broken Link Checker WordPress plugin, the Rel Nofollow plugin fills a very narrow role in the SEO market. The Rel Nofollow WordPress plugin automatically adds the rel=”nofollow” attributes to post external links whenever posts are saved. The WordPress plugin also provides a checkbox that news publishers can check to exclude certain posts from the plugin’s action.

Have you tried any of these SEO plugins for news publishers? If not, now is the time to give these tools a try.

Data Journalism Tools

The Small Publisher’s Guide to Editorial Analytics

Numbers don’t lie. For local publishers looking for new ways to boost traffic and click-through rates, editorial analytics can serve as a roadmap to success.

Rather than polling readers or simply guessing which articles will be most popular, more publishers are now relying on audience metrics and editorial analytics to inform their newsroom decisions.

Editorial analytics platforms can be setup to measure visitor activity on a publisher’s site. With popular platforms like Chartbeat and Parse.ly, publishers have the ability to track readers on their websites in real-time. Analytics platforms also track whether site visitors are actively reading, or whether they are just skimming content and saving articles to read later.

With this data in hand, publishers can make better decisions about which topics or stories to cover and how prominently certain articles should be promoted on their sites.

Three examples of how analytics can be used to make newsroom decisions include:

  1. People in the community may say they love reading stories about the public library, while editorial analytics suggest that sensational crime stories are actually driving the greatest engagement.
  2. Editors can track how small changes to published articles, such as changes to headlines or additional links to outside sources, impact how readers engage.
  3. When doling out annual bonuses and selecting candidates for promotion, publishers can look at reporters-specific metrics to determine which staff members are bringing the most value to the organization.

Should editorial analytics always be used to determine which topics get covered in a local publication? The answer to that is tricky. Just because a certain topic doesn’t generate traffic doesn’t always mean it’s not a topic worth covering. These are difficult questions that journalism ethicists have been debating for years.

In the years since digital-first publications like The Huffington Post and Gawker first started using analytics to make editorial decisions, the practice has gone mainstream. Many of the most popular tools for collecting this data at large media outlets have since been adapted for smaller digital publishers.

As a best practice, editors should consider asking themselves these questions when deciding the best ways to utilize editorial analytics in the newsroom:

  • Which readers are we trying to reach?
  • What types of reader behaviors do we want to cultivate or encourage?
  • Which metrics are we using as benchmarks for success?

In a survey of news editors, CEOs, and “digital leaders” conducted by Reuters Institute, 76% said improving the way newsrooms use data to understand and target audiences is going to be “very important” for their organizations.

Larger newsrooms have added analytics teams to the mix at a furious pace. Audience development editors and data analysts pour over the data to uncover new areas for opportunity. In smaller newsrooms, journalists themselves have access to analytics tools and metrics for their own published stories.

For publishers who’ve decided to start using editorial analytics to make strategic newsroom decisions, the next question is which platforms or tools to use. We’ve put together a list of some of the top choices for small and mid-size publishers who run their websites on WordPress.

Top WordPress Plugins for Editorial Analytics

  1. Chartbeat: For existing Chartbeat users, this plugin makes it easy to install Chartbeat’s code and start tracking website traffic and audience behaviors.
  2. Google Analytics: The Google Analytics plugin for WordPress connects publishers to Google Analytics and lets them see how visitors are finding and using their websites.
  3. Parse.ly: Designed for writers, editors, and website managers, Parse.ly helps publishers understand how audiences are connecting with the content they publish.
  4. Google Analytics Post Pageviews: This plugin links to a publisher’s Google Analytics account to retrieve the pageviews for individual articles or posts.
  5. Clicky by Yoast: Publishers who use this plugin can track individual posts and pages as goals and also assign revenue to specific pages or posts.
  6. Crazy Egg: With Crazy Egg, publishers can see exactly what visitors are doing on their websites and where they are clicking. They can also see where visitors are coming from and what types of content are bringing people back.

Expert Strategies for Increasing User Contributions

Listen to the locals. For hyperlocal publishers who want the inside scoop on what’s really going on in the communities they cover, in the form of user contributions, there’s no better source than the locals who live there. But getting people to switch from passively reading the news to actively engaging with it is a hurdle that almost every online publisher is trying to overcome.

According to a study by Pew Research and the Knight Foundation, two-thirds of people in metro areas say they discuss local news in person “a few times a week or more,” but just 8% of news consumers comment on stories, and even fewer (5%) discuss news stories on social media. The challenge for publishers, then, is finding ways to move those conversations from traditional gathering places, like the coffee shop, onto their own online forums.

Bringing reader conversations online benefits publishers in two main ways. First, it gives online publications a new source of information that reporters can dig into and flesh out to create feature-length stories. Call it the 2017 version of a tip line. Second, user contributions can be monetized, which provides publishers with an additional source of revenue.

So what’s the best way to increase user contributions? For publishers with WordPress websites, the easiest place to start is often with a plugin like AccessPress Anonymous Post, which allows visitors to submit their own posts—which can be marked as reader contributions—without being logged in. Communities is another WordPress plugin that publishers might want to consider. Using the plugin, publishers can create internal communities with discussion boards.

Publishers who have business directories on their websites have another obvious place for readers to get involved. Readers can manually create listings for their favorite local businesses or add photos and other information to make current listings more robust. With the CRED WordPress plugin, readers can submit content for product listings, directories, and classifieds on publishers’ sites. Broadstreet is a highly-regarded ad server with tools for publishers looking to add business directories to their websites.

Comments sections have traditionally been the first place readers go to interact on a publisher’s site, however some news outlets have taken steps to eliminate their comments sections in recent years. NPR got rid of its comments section in 2016, reporting at the time that just 1% of the media company’s 25 million to 35 million monthly unique visitors were commenting on the site, and even fewer were considered regular commenters.

Some publishers have found more success when they moved the conversation onto social media. While on-site conversations are optimal, the reality is that many people are consuming their news via social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Tying the articles being published on their own websites to the comments on Facebook—usually through prominent links on the homepage—is a smart way to encourage engagement and increase user contributions, with the ultimate goal of bringing some of those social media users back to their own websites.

The Coral Project has also been working to improve the way users contribute to news websites. The group, which is a collaborative effort from the Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Mozilla Foundation, released a product called Ask last year. Using Ask, editors and publishers can create embeddable forms in several formats, including text, photo, video, and audio, to invite user contributions. Editors then have the ability to filter, share, and manage the contributions before they appear online.

Of course, readers will only engage with articles that pique their interests. Personalization tools that tailor content recommendations keep readers on a site for longer by promoting content that’s likely to drive their enthusiasm. A survey by Cxense, a company that provides advertising, analytics, and content-recommendations services, found that 69% of publishers don’t personalize their web pages, even though 81% of publishers believe that type of data is “critical for success.” Going down this route, and implementing a personalization recommendation engine, can lower bounce rates and increase user engagement by providing visitors with more relevant news.

Engaged audiences are loyal audiences. Publishers hoping to increase user contributions should find ways to make their content more engaging, with plenty of avenues for readers to add their own two-cents and get involved in the publishing process.

Social Media Strategy for Publishers

Building a Social Media Strategy – A Step-by-Step Guide for Publishers

Two-thirds of adults in the U.S. now get their news from social media, and younger adults are even more likely to name social media as a main source of information. While major media outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post have the budgets to hire social media strategists and take full advantage of the opportunities within platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, local publishers are often left to figure out how to build a social media strategy on their own.

More than just a channel for self-promotion or one-way communication, social media has the potential to become a tool for collaborative reporting and curating content, as well as an endless source of story ideas for local reporters looking for the next great scoop. For publishers who have figured out how to monetize social media, platforms like Facebook and Twitter can also become new sources of revenue.

What is a social media strategy?

The best social media strategies involve some combination of a comprehensive overview and a day-to-day action plan. For publishers, a comprehensive overview should be a written plan that includes the organization’s goals for social media—for example, increasing reader contributions, bringing in new subscribers, or creating a new source of revenue—along with a specific plan of action for achieving those goals.

Developing a social media strategy isn’t always as simple as it seems. Depending on the size of the publication, multiple departments may need to be involved. Marketing, sales, and editorial teams should work collaboratively to come up with a synergistic plan that improves efficiencies when it comes to the type of content being posted across whichever social channels the publication decides to utilize.

When should the sales department get involved?

Developing a social media strategy that’s solely focused on optimizing traffic to the publisher’s website is shortsighted. Independent publishers who are focused on the bottom line will want to get their sales and marketing departments involved in the process, as well.

Independent news websites can easily include sets of sponsored social media posts as part of the ad packages they sell, just as long as the advertisement is clearly labeled. Selling these types of packages will become easier as the publisher’s editorial and marketing departments execute their parts of the social media strategy and build up a large organic following across multiple social channels.

How can social media be integrated into the workflow?

A well thought-out social media strategy shouldn’t be a burden to reporters or members of the publication’s marketing team. One of the biggest mistakes publishers make is coming up with a strategy that reporters are expected to execute without providing those reporters with any tools or plans for streamlining those new tasks.

Integrating a social media strategy into the workflow for editorial, marketing, and sales teams usually means introducing one or more new technology platforms. From simple solutions like Hootsuite, which reporters can use to schedule posts on social media, to platforms like Sprout Social, which publishers can use to visualize publishing calendars, manage digital assets, and determine the optimal time to post on each social network, there are hundreds—if not thousands—of solutions to choose from.

Outlets that publish on WordPress have the additional benefit of being able to use plugins to streamline the social media workflow. For example, publishers can use the Instant Articles for WP plugin to efficiently distribute content on Facebook. SumoMe is another vendor with a WordPress plugin that makes it easy for web visitors to share a publisher’s content on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

What are realistic goals?

While it’s true that social media can drive traffic to local news websites, publishers have to be realistic. Expectations should take timeframe and budget into consideration. An independent publisher who isn’t willing to invest significantly in social media isn’t going to see the same type of immediate results as a major news outlet with hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on sponsored posts across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

With a strong social media strategy in place, however, local online publishers can expect to see an uptick in brand awareness, website traffic, and positive sentiment among readers. These are all metrics that should lead to a positive return on investment, and they’re much more indicative of a successful social media strategy than the number of ‘likes’ or followers that an organization accumulates. Publishers who are getting their sales departments involved should also start tracking the number of sales inquires and leads coming in each month, as these figures should start increasing, as well.