First, if you’re not sure what kind of a wordpress site you have, check this post to find out:
How to Tell if Your WordPress Site is Self-Hosted or Hosted at WordPress.com
Then follow these instructions:
If you have 1) a free wordpress site hosted on wordpress.com, or 2) a site hosted on wordpress.com with its own domain attached:
- Go to your Dashboard (also referred to as “Blog Admin”)
- In the left side menu, choose Settings, then Sharing
- The top part of the Sharing page has the settings for automatically sending your blog posts to social media sites, which is a topic for another day. Lower down the page is a section called “Sharing Buttons”.
You have 2 options for adding sharing buttons for the many different social media services. You can either add each one individually, or add a lot of them and group them behind a singe “Share” button on your web page. Which you choose depends on how many you plan to add: for up to three, it’s reasonable to have a dedicated button for each service (and makes it easier and more obvious for your readers), but for more than that, the page gets very cluttered and you might want to group them together. You can also mix and match: have a dedicated button for your top social media sites, and add all the rest to a Share button.
- To add a dedicated button, click on the button in the “Available Services” section and drag it down to the “Enabled Services” section.
- To add a service to a catchall Share button, click on the button in the “Available Services” section and drag it down to the shaded are on the right side of the “Enabled Services” section.
You’ll see a live preview of the results of your actions below the “Enabled Services” section. Once you’re happy with your choices, scroll down and take a look at the rest of the settings.
- Button style: choose just an icon, an icon plus text, test only (just the name of the service), or “official buttons” which shows an icon plus the number of shares to that service. Feel free to try out different options and see what they look like in the Live Preview section.
- Sharing label: This text appears to the left of the row of sharing buttons. You can write whatever you like.
- Open links in: controls whether the sharing service opens in the same window as your site, or opens a new one. I recommend using New Window so that even if your readers get sucked into exploring the social media site, they can still easily get back to your site.
- Show buttons on: Front Page, Archive Pages, and Search Results / Posts / Pages / Media
Posts and Pages are the basic choices here. If you choose Front Page etc, these pages contain multiple posts and each post will have its own set of sharing buttons, creating a great deal of clutter. Try out different choices and see what you prefer.
- WordPress.com Likes are: on for all posts / turned on per post
This applies only to visitors to your site who are wordpress.com members themselves. It doesn’t hurt to leave it on, unless you prefer to reduce the clutter factor.
Now click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page.
When you go back to look at your site, you should see the sharing buttons appear where you specified them.
If you have 3) a “self hosted” wordpress site.
Things are a little more complicated if you have a self hosted site. The basic process is to install a “plugin” that will handle the social media buttons for you, activate it, then choose the buttons you want.
For many years I’ve used the AddtoAny/Lockerz buttons plugin, and found it simple and reliable. There are many other special purpose social media plugins available on the WordPress plugins page.
However, many newer self-hosted wordpress installations automatically include the Jetpack plugin from WordPress.com, which gives you many functions that wordpress.com sites have, including social media buttons. If you use Jetpack, the method for setting up the buttons will be very similar to that above for free wordpress.com sites.
It’s not possible for me to give the exact steps for every different social media plugin. Here’s the general process,
- From your dashboard, hover over “Plugins” on the left side menu and choose Add New from the menu that slides out.
- In the Search box on the Install Plugins page, type addtoany and click the Search Plugin button
- You’ll get a list of available plugins. The first one is probably “Share Buttons by Lockerz / AddToAny”, which is the one I use. Click on Install Now under the plugin name, and say Yes to the Are You Sure box.
- On the next “Installing plugin” page, wait for the Successfully Installed line to appear, and click the Activate Plugin link below it.
You’ll now see your list of installed plugins. You can use this method to install any plugin where you know the name, or you can use more general search terms in the search box and read the resulting descriptions to choose an appropriate plugin.
To change the settings for AddtoAny:
- Hover over the Setting choice in the left menu, and click on AddtoAny in the slide out menu OR simply click on the Settings link under AddtoAny in the Plugins menu.
- On the AddtoAny page, there’s a button at the top where you can add or remove standalone services – that means a separate button for each social media service. Print and Email are also useful options. Below are some catchall sharing buttons which let you use just that one button to access lots of social media services.
The choices are very similar to those for the wordpress.com sites detailed above, so there’s not much point me going into a lot of detail here. Just experiment with different settings until you get the look you want on your pages.