It’s 2015 and Twitter just released the official Twitter WordPress plugin. It’s a well-intentioned plugin that probably is redundant with a lot of Twitter customizations that you’ve already implemented.
What I want to do in this post is to look at the features of the plugin and give you a sense of whether or not you would benefit by adding it to your WordPress site.
One of the common complaints about this plugin is that it will not run if your PHP version isn’t at least 5.4. If you don’t know your PHP version, this plugin is a pretty good litmus test. If the Twitter Custom Text and Twitter Card boxes are added to your Post Admin screen, your PHP version is 5.4 or above. If you see nothing, odds are you need to upgrade your PHP version.
I had to upgrade, which required a quick email to my hosting service and a restart of the server.
Here is a screenshot of the interface:
You can see that much of the plugin deals with customization of Tweet buttons and Twitter Cards.
Tweet Button / Shortcode
One of the neatest features of the plugin is that it adds the shortcode twitter_share to your arsenal. This would allow you to easily put a share button anywhere in your post. Inputting this:
Would result in this:
In this case, I just added a hashtag at the end.
There are two considerations that you should know about this feature, though:
1. The customizations that you make with the Twitter plugin will not appear for sharing initiated with other sharing plugins or for coded share buttons. For example, the Twitter share button at the top of my posts is just code and isn’t impacted at all by the plugin.
2. There are customization options for this button (here is a list of parameters you can add), but this may counteract some of the convenience of the plugin. If you want to use the shortcode as is, you get a small Twitter share button with share count.
If you’re just doing this occasionally (as I do), you might consider using Twitter’s Tweet Button Generator tool. It customizes a Tweet button based upon the text and other parameters you set, and is easily customizable for appearance.
If the Yoast SEO plugin didn’t already do Twitter Card mark-up, this plugin might be worth implementing just for that feature. If you haven’t implemented Twitter Cards for your content AND don’t use Yoast SEO, this plugin might be very worthwhile for you (I’ve tried to implement Twitter Cards manually and it sucks).
Twitter Cards enhance your shared content with images and summaries. You still have to go through the validation process (here is a link to the Twitter Card validator), but it is an enhancement that every WordPress site should have (IMHO).
Here is an example of a (summary large image) Twitter card:
One of the less useful features of this plugin is probably the embedded Tweet feature. This feature allows you embed a tweet with a link or with a shortcode. Like this:
Usually, embedding a Tweet is a process of copying the embed link from Twitter and pasting it in the appropriate spot on your post. So my issue with this feature is that the plugin doesn’t make embedding Tweets any easier. In the case of shortcodes, it actually makes it more difficult.
Page speed impact
I used the P3 Plugin Performance Profiler to gauge the page load impact of the Twitter plugin. The Twitter plugin added about .02 seconds to my load time. This isn’t a lot, but it was more than ten other plugins that I use AND the Twitter social sharing button that I use adds no time.
So, the Twitter WordPress plugin doesn’t add a lot of time to the page load. But your pages will load faster without it.
Most regular WordPress users probably shouldn’t use the Twitter WordPress plugin. It’s features are redundant and it adds unnecessary load time.
The exception to this would be users who don’t use Twitter Cards AND who don’t use Yoast SEO (if you use Yoast but haven’t implemented Twitter Cards, it’s probably better to do it with that plugin).
Let me know your thoughts.