WordPress Plugins – Social Links

It seems like everywhere we turn these days another social networking site is springing up. From My Space to Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter to Plurk there is always a new service being brought up to help us connect with other computer users with similar interests. The problem with all of these services is that you never know which ones are the ones where your friends are actually hanging out. After all there what good is a social network where you are the only user?

As a precaution from being caught on the wrong service, we just enroll in all of them. The problem with this approach is that you can’t quite remember which sites you are on and what you used for your user ID when you signed up. Even if you do remember all of this information, how do you notify all of your friends and readers which services you are a member of?

This was my dilemma. I was trying to embrace social networking but found I was spending way too much time managing my various accounts and attempting to build a following and find friends and others who share similar interests. Once I had all of this information I needed a better way of letting people know where they might be able to find me.

WordPress in its generic form didn’t help much with my problem. So like so many times before, I began searching for a plug-in that would help me better manage my social networking identities and allow me to tell my blog readers where they could find me.

After a fairly extensive search I came across a plug-in written by Kareem Sultan called Social Links. This plug-in is a widget that allows the blog owner to identify which social networks they belong to and provides a graphical icon in the blog sidebar that will link to the user account.

The networks that Social Links recognizes is just a subset of all the social networks currently in existence but does include most of the major ones such as Digg, Facebook, Flicker, LinkedIn, My Space, Plurk, Twitter, and YouTube.

The plug-in is installed using the standard installation procedure through the Administration Dashboard. Once it is installed, Social Links will appear in the list of Widgets under the Appearance tab of the Administration Dashboard.

The widget can be installed in the sidebar and you are allowed to change the name that will appear on the heading. This of course means that the plug-in does require that your WordPress theme be widget-aware.

Under the Tools section of the Administration Dashboard the plug-in installs a Social Links menu item. Here you are able to select the social network in which you have a user ID. You are then asked for user or profile information that will allow your blog user to find your account on the specific social network.

The plug-in includes icons for each of the social networks it supports. I have to be honest; I was less than impressed with the included icons. They seemed too small and did not offer enough detail. I was able to modify the plug-in to use the icon set that I created for my Joomla My Social Network Plug-in so that I had consistency between the two systems.

Overall the Social Links plug-in was a good starting point to provide blog readers with access to my social network profiles. It was not a perfect fit for my needs but the plug-in was well written to allow for easy modification to make it a better fit.

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