WordPress is the largest blogging platform on the planet, but even its numbers pale in comparison to the number of Internet users who are signed up for social media services like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and a wide range of other websites. Because these websites have essentially become the driving force of web traffic outside of the major search engines, it is more important than ever to customize a WordPress installation so that it can effectively reach out to users on each platform.

Thankfully, WordPress is driven by a plugin-based architecture that makes it relatively easy to expand upon the content creation features that are bundled with every download of the software. Though no native support is included for any of the major social media websites, social media marketing can be accomplished with a few handy plugins that bridge the gap between traditional content marketing and the forces of the social web.

Taking the Message to Twitter: How to Share via Tweets

One of the best plugins for the world’s most popular content management platform is Twitter Tools. The plugin is actually a full-on integration solution that bridges the gap between blog entries and the “microblogging” tweets that have become a mainstay of Internet sharing and communication.

The plugin makes it possible for website owners to automatically tweet each time a blog post has been published. Those who tweet about a post will have their tweets brought back to the original website as a comment. And shortlinks can be easily shared even outside of WordPress using the plugin. For those looking to bridge the divide between 140-character tweets and full-length posts, this is the plugin of choice.

Facebook and LinkedIn: Make Sharing Easier with Shortlinks and Buttons

For those users who are looking to cater to sharing via other social media platforms, the OpenGraph API is a great tool in the fight against irrelevance in the face of social media. The “Like” button can be installed either with the “like” or “recommend” text, and it counts the number of people who have liked the post on Facebook. It’s the easiest way to get started with social media marketing, and it will immediately turn the website’s content into a viral commodity.

Shortlinks, which can be viewed on each post’s “Edit Post” page in the WordPress Dashboard, can be shared via LinkedIn. The service will automatically cull pictures, summary text, and other information, and embed those things into the LinkedIn news feed for a person’s connections to read. This is all done using Facebook’s OpenGraph tags, which can be manually placed into WordPress’ “header.php” template file or added automatically with a plugin.

The Importance of Social Media Marketing: The World’s Largest Audience

The number of users on social media websites of any kind is well into the hundreds of millions. In a recent Pew survey, a full 69 percent of all adults are signed up for at least one of the four major social media websites currently commanding mainstream attention. That’s a pretty notable figure, especially since social media itself was deemed a phenomenon of the youngest generation just a few years ago.

Social media websites are also one of the driving forces of mobile broadband data usage among consumers of all ages. Smartphones now represent a majority of the phones used by Americans, and they’ll soon achieve that distinction worldwide. With applications for all of the major platforms, companies and website that embrace social media marketing are essentially taking their message not only viral, but also inherently mobile.

Search Engine Optimization Looks at Social Media Marketing for Rankings

In addition to using social media for the promotion of self-created content, websites need to understand that engaging social media sites is one of the best ways to improve a website’s ranking at major search engines. Recent algorithm updates at Google and other search engines have rewarded websites that encourage user engagement. Engagement, in this case, means any kind of “like,” tweet, comment, or pin, and it’s a key way for Google to determine a website’s value, reputation, and trustworthiness.

The Time to Embrace Social Media is Now

Website owners now face a crucial decision: Perform the hard work of installing social media integration plugins with their content management system, or risk becoming silenced amid the growing noise of social networking websites. Because it’s easy to integrate with these site sand share content, the choice is clear. It’s time to enable two-way communication with social networking websites and embrace viral marketing.

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