It’s no secret that I’ve been working in the content creation hub for over half a decade. In various jobs over the years Social Warfare was the social sharing plugin every businesses I worked with considered standard. At a glance, it’s everything you need in a plugin to increase social sharing and add social proof of readership to your site. It offers share icons on every page with a certain level of customization, and even has handy options like Click to Tweet, which embeds a clickable button on your blog pages. All pretty handy stuff, right?
It’s no wonder that I used it for as long as I did. I even went so far as to pay a premium for access to their PRO membership with added benefits and bonuses. I used Social Warfare quite simply because it was what I knew. It was what everyone knew! I had never seen, and have never seen, a better promoted social media sharing plugin in for WordPress. Unfortunately, once I started paying a yearly premium for their Pro software I had more and more issues. As time went by I was forced to ask myself, is Social Warfare really the best social sharing plugin out there?
Here’s what my experience with Social Warfare PRO looked like.
Locked Out of My Own Website
Social Warfare caused such an issue with its constant updates that on at least three occasions I was locked out of the login page for my site, completely unable to access it, and forced to contact support at my hosting service in order to regain access. The issue was time and time again a Social Warfare issue. The proof was in the bug fix. Every time I reached out to my hosting service, the issue was resolved by the deactivation of the Social Warfare plugins.
Updates, to my understanding, are meant to be a good thing. They help keep our sites working properly and safely. Updates with Social Warfare, however, quickly became more of a hassle than a help.
There’s something you should know about paying for PRO right off the bat. The Social Warfare Pro plugin does not replace your Social Warfare Free plugin. Therefore, you must update both separately, yet in tandem, each time an update is required. No big deal, right? Wrong.
The free software updates with no problems. The PRO software does not.
It was a constant battle of with these updates. Usually, a WordPress plugin update is as simple as clicking a button and clearing your cache, but with Social Warfare PRO it looked more like this:
Step 1: Deactivate unpaid version of plugin
Step 2: Delete PRO version of plugin
Step 3: Leave WordPress and log in to your social warfare account
Step 4: Find your license key
Step 5: Re-download your zip file
Step 6: Re-upload to WordPress
Step 7: Re-activating unpaid version of plugin
Step 8: Activate paid version of plugin
A bit of a hassle, yes. You might be thinking that it’s not too bad if updates are only a few times a year. I would agree with you, if updates were as sporadic as you’d expect. Yet updates for social Warfare seemed to be every few weeks. Every time I turned around I was spending 30 minutes or more dealing with a single update for one single plugin that houses one small aspect of my website. It was never as simple as clicking the update button and being done with it, which is what I would expect for being a paying customer of the plugin software.
It seemed to me that I was being punished for being a paid user. Which is not a good way for any customer to feel.
After a few lock-outs and frustrations with constant updates I reached out to support for help.
The Response from Support
I explained the issues to support and received a well-composed email in return. Their advice was, in part, “In general, I would recommend not rushing to update the second an update is released, just to be sure it’s stable first. This is a good rule of thumb for any software you use – obviously keeping things up to date is important, but you don’t have to be the guinea pig unless you just want to.”
My question to that is, why would you release an update that’s not stable?
But more importantly, if I did not keep the software constantly updated with whatever they released and whenever, then I would be almost immediately locked out of my site. So, this advice didn’t really offer anything helpful, other than their honesty that the updates themselves are not always stable.
Why I Decided to Delete Social Warfare PRO and Free
In their help message response, their representative mentioned that they were doing everything they could to resolve the issues. Unfortunately, a few months went by and I was still experiencing problems. I had to ask myself if the added time, energy, stress, and funds were worth the service they provide. It was a hard decision. When Social Warfare works, it works perfectly. This was a plugin I had used for years and on various sites. However, I decided it was time to say goodbye and see what else was available.
What Deleting Social Warfare Cost Me
Social Warfare immediately refunded my yearly payment for PRO access. I absolutely appreciated how easy they made it to leave and how honest they were about the situation with their 3.0 updates. At the end of the day, I lost no money by leaving Social Warfare and I value what that tells me about the integrity of the company who created it.
My biggest concern with leaving Social Warfare was this: I knew I would be losing a great deal of social proof on my blog posts.
For instance, this book review first received 96 shares within 24 hours, and went up over 200 over its lifespan. However, you’ll notice this same post now shows only 5 social shares. Yikes. That’s a huge dive in social proof. Undeniably. I wish Social Warfare had continued to work as perfectly as it had for so many years before the 3.0 update. Yet I couldn’t abide by the cost this plugin was continuing to have on my businesses. I decided to swallow the loss of social proof and start fresh with a new service.
The Free Service I’m Using Instead
For the past few months since the switch I’ve been happily using the AddThis plugin for all my social sharing. It’s been extremely easy to implement, with helpful tools and even more options for sharing than what was offered by Social Warfare, even at its peak. I’m still experimenting with this service, but I have absolutely zero complaints with their free version so far. Take a look at the share icons on your screen. There is a share button panel for both desktop (right side of page) and mobile (bottom of page). AddThis also runs my email signup pop up which integrates with MailChimp seamlessly. It also adds pops ups for suggested posts to read next. Better still, whenever a viewer shares it shows a thank you overlay and suggests four more posts for them to read.
If you’re looking for a social share plugin I would strongly encourage you to experiment with AddThis for yourself and see what you think of it.
I hope this article has helped you make important decisions about how you choose to encourage social sharing on your site and more thoughtfully contemplate the plugins you’re considering to make the social proof aspects of your site as simple and easy to use as possible.
Til next time,