Plugin Review – Floating Social Bar

Quick Overview:

Developed by Syed Balkhi and Thomas Griffin, Floating Social Bar adds a floating bar with share buttons to your content without slowing down your site.

My Experience:

This plugin is incredibly simple to set up. For starters, these two get bonus points for adding a settings link that is accessible from the Plugin management page. I wish more plugins would do that. Just drag the icons representing the social networks you want to use to the Enabled Social Services box.

Floating Social Bar Setup
Configuring This Plugin Is Easy!

You can alter the text that displays to the left of the icons, determine where those buttons show up, add your Twitter username and configure the interval to update stats which are displayed to the right of each icon. I believe this varies between themes but depending upon how long the text is before the social icons, it will force some of them to the next line, which is not pretty.

Floating Social Bar Icons
As seen in the Twenty Eleven Theme

My personal preference is to have sharing icons located below the post content, near some of the meta data as seen on WPTavern articles. This plugin doesn’t allow that, at least not from its settings page. This is one of the reasons why Publicize by Jetpack will be a better option. Publicize gives users options to control the look of the icons and where they are located. With Floating Social Bar, the icons are stuck at the top of the post.

This plugin provides a quick and easy way to display sharing icons without all of the additional functionality that comes with Publicize in JetPack. If that’s what you need, this plugin is excellent. If you’re looking for more flexibility, especially for how these icons are displayed, I suggest using Publicize in Jetpack.


11 responses to “Plugin Review – Floating Social Bar”

  1. Hi there!
    This review is missing at least one important – for me the most important – point: the scripts of the services are only loaded if the user hovers over the icons/services not earlier! So it doesn’t slows the site down, as a lot of other plugins do, as of my knowledge Jetpack included!

    To compare it with Jetpack is really bad IMHO: Jetpack is an overbloated plugin suite but “Floating Social Bar” follows an open source software principle: do only one task but do that really well! — This plugin succeeds with that: simple, well-coded, lightweight, easy to use. Period.

    Just my 2 cents :)

  2. @Jeffro,

    My personal preference is to have sharing icons located below the post content, near some of the meta data as seen on WPTavern articles. … With Floating Social Bar, the icons are stuck at the top of the post.

    It’s only sensible to assume that folks would be at the bottom of the Post, before they reach for their favorite social-button. [pregnant pause; cough]

    There’s plenty says reality is otherwise, though. I see a lot of sites with social buttons positioned like eye-candy and paraded like flags. A clear-cut & robust class of plugins compete to best sex-up & pony-sprinkle your social buttons.

    If it was about functionality, the graphical buttons wouldn’t be such finely-wrought objets d’art, and social text-links would be a more common option.

  3. @Ted Clayton – Well, I would hope that people read the articles and then get the urge to share them, which is why I have my buttons at the bottom of the post. But, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if people share stuff and don’t even read it. I’ve been known to do that from time to time on Twitter with retweets.

    However, I will never turn the content section of the site too look like a Nascar sponsored vehicle. It seems like what you’re saying is that my needs and wants in a social button plugin are the minority, not the majority.

  4. @Jeffro

    … I will never turn the content section of the site too look like a Nascar sponsored vehicle [sexed-up, form-over-function social buttons … before we read the content].

    Policies & practices like this are part of why I’m ‘here’, and not ‘there’. Matt Mullenweg, who mind you certainly enjoys his stylistic flourishishes, obviously approves too.

    Going with style & form over the useful & meaningful can attract eyeballs & clicks, but once these features are seen & shared, they have no further value. Content takes more of an investment, both to produce and to consume, but can deliver value over the long haul.

    The glitzy & theatricized does attract the camera crews, and gets more ‘coverage’, but that doesn’t mean sensible behavior is now a loser at the ballot box.

  5. Thanks for reviewing our plugin Jeff. I want to address the issues you brought up:

    Yes, we gave users an option to add the title if they want, but there are drawbacks to the option (i.e you can’t add all the buttons). Depending on how long your text is, you can add either 3-4 buttons. In your case the title is long and the content width is limited thus you can only show 3 buttons without going into the second line. We can’t control whether you add one word or a paragraph in your title area, but at least you have a choice. By default the title area is empty.

    We rolled out a new update today that allows users to make the floating bar static. This will allow you to control the position of the share box. You have the option to add it above content, below content, or both.

    Lastly, I was a bit disappointed that you didn’t mention anything about the speed of this plugin and how it clearly beats all other options considering it’s lightweight and the use of socialite. Not to mention, we utilize the official button look.

    P.S. We will have multiple style options that users can implement down the road. Everything can be customized with simple CSS changes right now. You can see what Thomas did on his personal blog to see kind of a demo:

  6. @Syed Balkhi – I didn’t mention speed because to me, it didn’t register with me as I used the plugin on a local host. My experience with plugins like this so far is Publicize in Jetpack. To me, it doesn’t seem that slow in loading the icons for the services Then again, the images are loaded at the bottom of the post so perhaps by the time you get to them, they are loaded.

    As for the use of socialite, I’m not a developer. I’m a user. I don’t know what social lite is and frankly don’t care as long as the plugin functions and does what it’s supposed to and I find it fits my needs. Speed is a factor to me but in this experience, I just didn’t notice anything that screamed out that it needed to be mentioned.

    Now if you could just copy what Jetpack Publicize does but without all the Jetpack stuff, then you have a winner and I guess the speed would be an added benefit.

  7. @Jeffro – Totally understand your point about socialite as a user.

    Eventually we will offer numerous skins for the plugin including the Jetpack style skin. We added the ability to make floating bar static for this very reason. Thomas’ experimented with CSS skins on his personal blog to see if it is do-able, and good news is that it is.

    Eventually it will be a feature :)



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