Twitter has created its own plugin for WordPress sites. I jumped right on running tests because this is just ahead of the renewed Twitter / G+ integration where tweets will now be indexed in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). It’s full integration of all Twitter features. So, you need to be careful about plugin conflicts and site performance in its use. And, it requires a specific PHP version on your hosting. See my test results, plus how to set up each of the features.
The new plugin is loaded with features, including:
- Embedded Tweet – customize backgrounds and color schemes to match your site’s theme
- Embedded Twitter video – showcase video uploaded to Twitter
- Tweet button – simple sharing of your site’s content on Twitter
- Twitter Cards – highlight your site’s content when shared on Twitter
- Twitter Analytics – track impressions and top distributors of your site’s content on Twitter
- Follow button – grow your Twitter audience
- Twitter ads conversion tracking – easily track actions on your WordPress site triggered by a Twitter ad or build a custom targeting audience
Before you install the new Twitter plugin, you’ll want to be considerate of other plugins that may already be providing these functions.
Possible Conflicting Plugins include:
- WordPress SEO by Yoast
- JM Twitter Cards
- Click to Tweet
- Social Warfare
- Any social share button plugin
There are plenty of others, but the above are very popular. The new plugin also has a sharing function, which will likely conflict with any social share button plugin you already have, so be sure to check your site to see how they both show up, and if your sharing plugin has a way to disable just the Twitter share.
The Twitter plugin also requires PHP 5.4 or later.
Hosts could be running anything from 5.2 to 5.5. And this is what most of the support tickets are for right now. If your host is running an earlier version, you won’t even see an error message. The way you’ll know is that you won’t see the settings options for the plugin.
How to Check Your PHP Level
If you have cPanel, the PHP version is likely listed in the sidebar stats when you first log in. If you don’t have cPanel, be sure to check with your host about that if you have any difficulties with the plugin.
Install and Configure
The Twitter plugin is conveniently located in the WordPress Plugins Repository, so it’s as easy to add.
Just go to Plugins > Add New and search for Twitter. It will look like this:
There are a few things you’ll want to set up to make full use of this plugin.
If you have not done so already with a previous plugin, you’ll need to enable Twitter Cards and submit a URL to the Twitter Cards Validator for them to work. Submitting a blog post usually works best. (If it doesn’t work on the first try, wait a bit and try again. Or, turn of caching temporarily and try again.)
You’ll see a new tab at the bottom of the admin sidebar for Twitter. Or go to the Plugins page where you’ll see a link for Settings. (If you don’t see either, you probably don’t have a high enough PHP version.)
You can stylize how your embedded Tweets look so that they match your theme.
Got to the Twitter Settings and you’ll see these options.
Below that is a field to enter your Twitter username.
Next are the settings for the Tweet Button itself.
You can select a position of before or after the post, or both. And then to show the number of posts citing the tweet. And then the size.
And last is the option to suppress the content security policy warnings.
Do not check this box!
You most definitely want to see these warnings, as they will alert you to XSS, or Cross Site Scripting vulnerabilities. Keep in mind that you are bringing in info from outside your site for the number of posts, or embedded tweets. Those are both security issues, and you want to stay on top of them.
If folks are saying nice things about you on Twitter, or you find a quote there from someone that’s important or news, you may want to embed it into your site.
See more on how to embed a tweet here. And then use the plugin’s styling to make it match your site.
You can attach photos, videos, and even audio to your Twitter links to make for a rich experience. Some plugins do not support more than images and a summary. With this plugin, you get all 7 cards that are supported by Twitter at this time.
See more on Twitter Cards here. And see the link at the top of this post for validating them.
Did you know that Twitter has its own analytics? Yep, you can easily measure your Twitter influence and impact, as well as your tweet activity and followers.
See more on Twitter Analytics here including how to sign up for them.
You can upload short videos straight to Twitter. And then you can also embed that tweet into your site. It will come with More Tweet action too.
See more on Twitter Video here including the code you’ll need to embed it back into your site.
Twitter Button and Follow
If you already have social sharing and follow buttons, you may not want to turn these features on. Or, you’ll at least need to turn them off in the other plugins that you may be using. Doing so will likely give you an inconsistent look, which is not desirable.
There is currently no way to turn off the Twitter Share button in this plugin!
Security and Performance
Any plugin with these Twitter features enabled is going to be a performance hog and security risk. You are basically providing an open door policy for info coming from an outside source.
Your page load speed could be affected while waiting on that content to be delivered.
So, using this plugin, or any like it, needs to have a real ROI (Return on Investment) factor, and not just a novelty factor, for you to include it on your site.
The Twitter / G+ integration is going to make tweeting a hot commodity even more than it already is. There will be an SEO perk to it once again now.
That, coupled with the audio and video cards for podcasts and YouTube, making the most of all Twitter has to offer is a stellar idea. Including all of it on your site, maybe not so much.
Keep in mind that Twitter Cards are the biggest bonus, as it allows you to take the great content on your site and place it on Twitter in a rich medium.
Bringing tweets back into your site as embeds is optional. And since that part of it is what poses both the performance and security risks, it would be best to seriously weigh what functions and features you really need that will do you the most good.
Plus, it’s early in the game. This is version 1.0 of the plugin. I suspect that Twitter will be tweaking on it for some time as the support tickets start coming in. And, I think the lack of PHP support below version 5.4 will keep many folks from being able to even use it yet.
There are already more established plugins that have many of the most desirable features in this new plugin. That, coupled with the potential conflicts of plugins you may already have installed, might give you pause in switching to this one. But, if you’re not already taking advantage of Twitter/WordPress integration in some way, I strongly suggest that you do, even if it’s not with this plugin.
Bottom line – it’s good, and it’s about time Twitter released an official plugin. But, I’m not sure this one is quite ready for prime time yet. I’d let them work out a few of the kinks first before adopting. But, if your business benefits from being bleeding edge with all the shiny new things, then you’ll want to give this plugin a try.