There is very little doubt that social signals are an increasingly important SEO factor, i.e. visitors sharing your content with their followers on platforms like Twitter, Facebook & Google Plus.
A few months ago, Shane Melaugh came out with a product called WP Sharely, that seemed to ethically bribe visitors to share your content. I tried it, but unfortunately could not get it to work on this site. I could have emailed the developers of the plugin with my login details to take a look, but I was reluctant to give admin access to this website to anyone, so I went in search of alternative products that did the same thing. I found one called Social Locker. In fact, I think it is the same basic product that Shane sells, so I wonder if there is some kind of resale rights deal going on. Whatever the deal is, Social Locker seemed to work properly, well almost. I had one problem with it, but their support told me that my problem was consistent with a plugin conflict. They told me that a social sharing plugin I had on my site was the prime suspect and they offered to fix it. Again, I wasn’t happy about giving them admin access to this site, so I disabled the social sharing plugin I was using. The result? Social Locker worked.
So what is Social Locker?
Well, simply put it allows you to hide a bit of your content, only revealing it to your readers if they click on a social share link. You can see it in action on a couple of pages on this site. First, you can see it here. On that page, Social Locker is protecting an image that shows my earnings from Createspace in July. If you want to see the screenshot, you need to share the post via Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus. As soon as you share the post, the image is revealed.
You can also see Social Locker in action here. In this post, Social Locker is protecting a table of data that estimates how many sales a day each bestsellers rank makes. If you want to see that data, you need to share that post.
The plugin has a lot of options. Firstly, you can design how the “locker” will appear on your webpage:
You have a WYSIWYG editor to create your “locker”. You can also insert images, audio, video etc into the cocker message.
Social Locker has a few built in themes, but you can customize the themes if you want. As you make changes to your locker, there is a preview that is updated:
This shows you what the locker will look like on your website.
You can configure which social sharing buttons appear in your locker:
Each of these social channels have their own options, which are fairly similar, so let me show you the Twitter options:
The top option allows you to switch the channel on or off.
The URL to Tweet is the URL that will be included in the tweet as it is automatically built when the visitor clicks on the Twitter button. That means you can actually tweet any page, not just the one they are on when they click the Tweet button. If you want to tweet the current URL, you can leave this blank, BUT, if your URL is too long, the tweet will be too long, so will fail. I recommend using a link shortener, and adding that to your Tweet options. If you do this, add the same shortened URL in the Counter URL field, so that the Twitter counter is updated correctly.
You can also specify the Tweet body, or leave that blank to use the default tweet (page title).
Other options available for your social locker include:
- Show a close icon in the top corner of the locker, so people have the option to close the locker and view the hidden content without sharing.
- Add a timer to the locker, so that the contents will automatically be shown once the timer countdown is complete. Again, this is a way to appease your readers and give them an option to view the locker contents without sharing your post.
- Hide the content from the page source code. This prevents people from simply viewing the source code of your page to get to the locker content.
There are other options too, but I have not used them, so cannot really comment on them. However, if you want to see the full set of features, check out the sales page for Social Locker.
OK, so once you have your locker, how do you add it to a webpage to conceal a piece of your content?
Well, when you install the plugin, it adds a new button to the WYSIWYG editor toolbar:
Clicking the button, opens a menu that lists all of the social lockers you have created. If you click on a locker, it will add the locker code to your post:
You simply put the content you want to reveal inside the opening and closing code, like this:
An even easier way of adding a locker is to select the content in your post that you want to reveal, and then click the social locker button to select your locker. The selected content will then be correctly wrapped inside the locker code.
These lockers can help you get a lot more social shares to your pages, which in return can bring visitors to your site through those channels AND probably help your web page rankings. It’s win-win all around.
Update 2018: This plugin has continued to be developed and added a lot of new features since this review. I still use it and it is still highly recommended.
Visit the sales page on Code Canyon to read more about Social Lockers.