The first half of April has been spent on the new Social Sharing module in the Genesis Club Pro Plugin. I wanted to improve the feature so that plugin users will get more social shares on their sites. I tackled the problem from 3 angles:
- it would have a more consistent and cleaner look
- it would be more “clickable”
- it would be more reliable
Beautiful Socicon Icons
Socicon (pronounced saucisson, the developers are French) is a beautiful icon font created specifically for social sharing.
In Genesis Club Pro plugin, I’ve have used Socicon icons for sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and email. But for printing and totals, I’ve used Dashicons.
Kickstart Feature Accelerates Your Number Of Shares
It can be quite difficult getting shares on new posts when the sharecount is showing as zero. The Kickstart feature allows you to add a temporary boost to your posts so they start off with number of shares. This makes it more likely for people to share your posts. The boost decays to zero over time. Therefore as you get more likes the number of shares displayed is in fact correct in the short to medium term. The initial number of shares is chosen randomly from a range you specify for the social network so it is flexible. You can also choose to show the sharecount for each social network or just show a total number of shares across all networks. These features allow you to show your social presence in the best possible light.
Social Sharing Under The Hood
The previous version of the social module sharing made use of iframes to connect to the various social sites to get the number of shares. Sometimes this failed and left blank spaces in the boxes where the counts should have been. So it did look a bit untidy. The new version of the plugin handles this completely differently.
- Simple HTML spans hold the social icon, and the social verb (tweet, share, stumble, etc) or the number of shares when it is available
- The fetching of the social counts is a single request to the server made using AJAX so happens silently in the background
- The server makes the connection to each social site to get the count applying any “kickstarting” of the number of shares if required.
- Caching is implemented so the counts are fetched once an hour and hence this has negligible impact on the performance of the server
- If there are multiple sets of sharing icons on the page then on a single request is made to fetch the number of shares
- If the request to fetch the social shares fails for any reasons then the social panel continues to display the social icon with the social verb and hence the page still looks good. In fact it looks exactly the same as it would look if you decided not to display the number of shares.