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A Look at the Long Overdue Official Twitter WordPress Plugin

The official Twitter WordPress Plugin was released a few days back, and today we want to share the insights of the plugin on how you can use it and why it is beneficial to you.

Adding a Twitter feed to a WordPress website is nothing new. A quick look at the WordPress repository shows hundreds of plugins that can add some form of Twitter functionality to a website – some websites have had this functionality for years.

With this in mind, it’s more than a little surprising that Twitter have only just unveiled their official Twitter plugin for WordPress.

With millions of WordPress-powered websites and many more million Twitter users, saying Twitter is late to the party is a huge understatement.

But was it worth the wait? Today I’ll take a closer look at the official Twitter WordPress plugin.

Getting Started with the Official Twitter WordPress plugin

After installing the Twitter plugin, you’ll see a new Twitter option added to your WordPress dashboard. All the plugin’s settings are controlled from this one handy location, making it the ideal place to start.

From here you can design how embedded Tweets appear on your website. You can choose from a light and dark skin, plus you can configure your link and border colors – this lets you create something that fits in with the design of your website.

The plugin also lets you automatically add a Tweet button on every post published – this can be configured to display before and/or after each post. There’s also the option to make the button bigger, and you can display a small counter to show how many times a post has been cited.

The screen is really simple to work with, and you can have your basic configurations set up in just a few minutes.

Embedding Tweets

The official Twitter WordPress plugin makes embedding a Tweet in your posts incredibly easy.

Simply paste the Tweet’s URL and it will automatically embed into your post – complete with the style options you configured in the first step. (This is exactly the same way you embed videos from WordPress 4.0 onwards.)

This takes just seconds, and you’ll get something that looks like this:

Embedded TweetPretty cool, right?

The other thing you’ll notice is a Twitter meta box, which is displayed right below the WordPress text editor.

Within this meta box, you’re able to write your Tweet as you want it to appear when a visitor clicks on one of your share buttons – the ones you set up to automatically appear before and/or after each post. Visitors can still edit this text should they want, but they are more likely to click share with the message field already populated.

Twitter meta box

Theofficial Twitter WordPress plugin can automatically generate Twitter Cards as well. For those unaware, Twitter Cards allow you to attach photos, audio, video, and other media to your tweets. You can add a title and description for your Twitter Card from this meta box, too

Before you can add a Twitter card to your Tweets, you’ll have to opt-in. This is a simple enough process, done via the Twitter Card Validator page. You only have to do this once, then you can use Twitter Cards whenever you want.

Validating your website for Twitter Cards also gives you more features on Twitter Analytics. Twitter Analytics lets you track how many tweets, impressions, and clicks you generate, plus you can break down this data by Twitter Card type – this lets you see which type of Card is most effective.

Twitter Widgets

The Twitter plugin also allows you to add a follow button to any widget area.

To add a Twitter Follow button, click Appearance > Widgets from the WordPress dashboard. Using the drag-and-drop interface, you can now drag the Twitter widget into your preferred widget area.

Configuring the widget is easy: start by giving the widget a title and adding your Twitter handle. You can then choose whether you want a larger button and to display a counter next to the button.

Twitter Follow Widget

Hit Save and you’re good to go.

Final Thoughts

The Twitter plugin is very easy to use and adds some useful functionality to your website. It doesn’t do anything that doesn’t already exist, but knowing it was built by the official Twitter developers will give some users peace of mind.

Personally though, I wouldn’t use the plugin to add Twitter buttons before or after my posts.

Why? Well, it just seems slightly odd seeing a lone Twitter sharing button – most WordPress users don’t just use Twitter, and the Facebook and Google+ buttons were noticeably missing.

With this in mind, if you want to maximize your visibility on all the major social media networks, you will need to install another social sharing plugin as well as the Twitter plugin.

That said, the Twitter plugin did add some cool functionality. Effortlessly embedding Tweets – complete with custom styling – is a great feature, as was the ability to write up your Tweet and Twitter Card from within the WordPress editor.

A nice plugin, Twitter is definitely worth checking out.

What do you think to the new official Twitter WordPress plugin? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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