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Want to add social sharing buttons to your WordPress site but worried about hurting your site’s performance?

When it comes to performance optimization, not all WordPress share button plugins are equal, which is why we busted out our test site to run some real tests and find the fastest WordPress social sharing plugin in 2019.

More specifically, I installed ten of the most popular social share plugins on my site, collected some data, and now I’m going to share the best-performing plugins with you.

Let’s dig in…

Fastest WordPress Social Sharing Plugin: The Data

If you just want a quick look at the plugins that I tested and how they performed, this section contains a table that summarizes everything. In addition to collecting the page size and number of requests, I also ran three separate speed tests to assess the page load times.

If you want to learn more about the environment that I used for my tests, I’ll share that at the end of the post:

PluginPage Size (KB)RequestsLoad Time 1 (s)Load Time 2 (s) Load Time 3 (s)
None
(baseline)
43.9110.40.40.3
Social
Warfare
99170.70.70.8
Monarch150250.70.81.2
Social Snap122160.60.70.5
AddToAny144200.61.31.1
Jetpack134270.70.91.0
Kiwi105181.11.8 1.7
MashShare112150.60.70.6
Social Pug96.7160.80.60.6
AddThis259222.11.82.3
Sassy Social Share138160.70.91.2

The Five Fastest WordPress Social Sharing Plugins in 2019

Rather than sharing details for all ten plugins that I tested, I’m only going to highlight five of them, based on their page load times and the “weight” that they added to the page in terms of page size and requests.

Remember, the base load time for my test site with no plugin installed was ~0.36 seconds. So anything above that can roughly be attributed to the social share plugin in question.

1. Social Pug

Average page load: 0.66 seconds

Added:

  • 52.8 KB to the page size
  • 5 new requests

In terms of the “weight” added to a page, Social Pug was the overall fastest social sharing plugin that I tested. The difference isn’t huge between some of the other plugins. But at just 52.8 KB in added size, Social Pug was number one.

To get started, it offers a generous free version with:

  • Stylish share buttons for all the most popular networks
  • Multiple placement options, including before/after content and floating share buttons
  • Total and individual share counts

Beyond the free version at WordPress.org, there’s also a premium version that adds:

  • More social networks
  • Mobile share button placements
  • Pop-up social share buttons based on visitor behavior
  • Analytics integrations
  • Social media follow buttons
  • Click-to-Tweet functionality

The premium version starts at $29.

2. Social Warfare

Average page load: 0.73 seconds

Added:

  • Average page load:
  • 55.1 KB to the page size
  • 6 new requests

Social Warfare is a popular option that comes in both a limited free version at WordPress.org, as well as a much more feature-rich premium version that starts at $29.

With the free version, you can add share buttons for the most popular networks as either in-content or floating buttons, including an option to show share counts.

If you go Pro, you’ll get access to more social networks, as well as advanced features like:

  • Pinterest pin buttons
  • Control over how your content looks when shared
  • Minimum share counts to avoid negative social proof
  • Analytics tracking
  • …plus more

Full disclosure – though the issue has since been patched, Social Warfare recently had a security issue, which Wordfence detailed here. This might be something to keep in mind, though Social Warfare has otherwise been a stellar option.

3. MashShare

Average page load: 0.63 seconds

Added:

  • 68.1 KB to the page size
  • 4 new requests

Note, MashShare only allows Facebook and Twitter in the free version, which gave it a slight advantage against the other plugins – more on this at the end.

MashShare is a popular option that lets you create Mashable-style social share buttons (you can see an example above).

If you like that look, that’s the main reason to choose this plugin over the other options. Other helpful free features include:

  • Minimum or artificial share counts
  • URL shortening

And if you’re willing to pay, there are lots of premium add-ons for features like:

  • More placement options, including floating buttons
  • More networks
  • Analytics
  • Select-and-share – let visitors highlight text and share that portion, like Medium
  • Analytics

4. Social Snap

Average page load: 0.70 seconds

Added:

  • 78.1 KB to the page size
  • 5 new requests

Social Snap is a relatively new entrant to the social share plugin space that, like many of the other plugins, comes in a limited free version at WordPress.org as well as a premium version, which starts at $39.

The free version lets you create social share buttons with share counts as:

  • Inline buttons
  • Floating sidebars
  • On media (like an image)

You get access to all the most popular social networks, as well as other helpful features like social follow buttons and click-to-tweet functionality.

If you go Pro, you’ll get more networks and positions, as well as:

  • Control over how your content looks on social media
  • Share count recovery
  • Analytics

And there are even paid add-ons for non-sharing functionality like:

  • Social media auto-posting
  • Social login
  • A content locker

5. AddToAny

Average page load: 1.0 seconds

Added:

  • 100.1 KB to the page size
  • 9 new requests

AddToAny just barely squeaked into the list of the fastest WordPress social sharing plugins. In fact, I was debating holding it off because it added over 100 KB to the page size and was a little slower than the previous four plugins.

However, I decided to leave it in because of one key fact:

It offers universal sharing, which none of the other social share plugins on this list offer.

That is, you can add a single button that lets visitors share your content to any one of the hundreds of networks that AddToAny supports.

Beyond that, AddToAny offers:

  • Multiple placement options, including inline and floating buttons
  • Share counts
  • Social media follow buttons
  • Google Analytics integration

How I Tested the Fastest WordPress Social Sharing Plugins

To generate the data above, I set up a basic WordPress test site hosted on the smallest DigitalOcean droplet and using a fast WordPress theme – Astra in this case.

I didn’t make any performance improvements, and the only plugin running is the social share plugin in question. Additionally, I’m testing the default “Hello World!” post.

To generate the load times, page size, and requests, I used GTmetrix.

Without any social share plugins active, my test site had a page size of 43.9 KB and 11 HTTP requests.

In order to make the test as consistent as possible, I tried to use a similar configuration for each plugin whenever possible. That was:

  • 4 social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn (sometimes I swapped in another network based on availability)
  • Inline share buttons placed as high up on the page as possible
  • Total and individual share counts turned on, whenever available

Beyond choosing those three things, I left all of the other settings as the defaults.

Final Thoughts

Based on the plugins that I tested, Social Pug offers the most lightweight approach to WordPress social sharing in 2019, while still giving you an easy-to-use interface, buttons that look great, and more advanced functionality if you want it.

However, other plugins weren’t far behind, and you may prefer the looks and style of a different option.

Because all of these plugins have free versions available at WordPress.org, I encourage you to install them on your own site to find which one is best for you.

And if you want to speed up your site even more, add WP Rocket on top to further make sure that everything about your WordPress site is optimized.


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Comments (60)

Hey Lucy,

Thank you for your test and your feedback, I was also considering doing those kinds of tests.

My favorite social sharing is not in your list : Social Warfare from http://warfareplugins.com/. Could you afford a licence and try it out?

Great list -- thanks for putting this together. I would add that sharing buttons are only the start (or maybe the icing) of a social sharing solution. What does the post look like in the share popup, or once shared? How's the title, description, image / video, author attribution, product information (Pinterest and Twitter), etc.? A plugin like WPSSO, which has no detectable impact on performance, would really tie things together (or perhaps NextGEN Facebook, which includes both meta tags and sharing buttons).

I might suggest that using a speed test tool locally, instead of an internet based one, would provide more accurate results. Also, you mention enabling 6 buttons, but some plugins do not offer 6 buttons, which gives them a certain speed advantage in your tests.

js.

Nice overview, but the fastest way for a speedy website are static buttons!

<a title="Twitter it ..." href="https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?source=webclient&text= ID)); ?>" target="blank"><img style="width: 24px; height: 20px;" alt="Twitter it" src="/images/tweet.png" />

<a title="Share it ..." href="https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?u=ID)); ?>&t=" target="blank"><img style="width: 24px; height: 20px;" alt="Facebook Share" src="/images/share.png" />

<a style="width: 24px; height: 20px;" href="https://plusone.google.com/_/+1/confirm?hl=de&url=ID)); ?>&title=" target="blank">/images/google.png" alt="Google+ Share" />

Using this Code in a Text Widget or wherever you like in combination whit WP-ROCKET, the fastest Cacher worldwide you i'll have excelent values in page speed measuring! Google i'll love it ....
Me too, i use them in combination!
Cheers from italy

@Nicolas - Thanks for the tip! I'm not familiar with that plugin. Perhaps I will update the post in the future and include that and others I may have missed.

@JS - Thanks for your insightful comments! You are correct that sharing buttons are not a social strategy, but doing a full review of all features of the plugins was beyond the scope of this post. I feel that a local speed test is actually less representative of what most people will experience, because people will be accessing your website via the internet, not locally. I did mention in my notes that the configurations vary across plugins due to the different options that some provide. The differences between the slow plugins and the fast ones can't really be attributed to less buttons though - the faster ones are just better implemented in general. Actually, with the exception of Mashsharer, all of the top ones won with 6 buttons, so it ended up not really being a factor.

No surprise at all. I removed Addthis from my WP powered sites, still keep it on few not WP sites, simply because it's easy to implement. Anyway... Jetpack is a surprise for me. I thought its faster.

Most preferred is Easy Social Share Buttons

Why you did not test Easy Social Sharing Buttons?

I third Easy Social Share Buttons, right now I'm using them but they seem to have become a bit more bloated after some of the newer features which has made it convoluted.

None the less, it's still pretty fast. I'm hearing great things about Social Warfare as well so I'm considering that or any other premium plugin that focuses on speed as well as some premium options like image sharing and responsiveness.

very nice post, i do not use in some sites social plugin, but and other i use jet pack

Using Social Share Starter by KK, Really simple with total share display without bloat.

How about SumoMe Share buttons? I switched to that from Shareaholic when I compared the site speeds for my site. SumoMe Share was faster. Thanks!

It's always those little things that we don't pay attention to most of the time that tear into our page speed! I've never even considered looking at the Share buttons as they usually come with the site theme, but now I'm playing around to see how much time they are using.

Thanks for giving us another aspect of our sites to check out that many don't think about. I'm still amazed at how much better results I'm also getting with WP Rocket of W3TC with so much less work! It's the first time in years, I've not been nervous when they're a cache plugin update!

How about the Floating Social Bar? https://wordpress.org/plugins/floating-social-bar/

Awesome! I changed to Simple Share Buttons Adder from Shareaholic on one of my websites. Dramatic difference in site speed! Thanks!! I'm going to check this on my other sites, too.

I've been using Po.st (https://www.po.st/) for the longest time. Po.st prodives a handy social sharing tool that comes with analytics and insights. My blogs always score well in terms of Google PageSpeed. In other words, the tool doesn't add tons of crap that slow down the blogs.

Po.st is free of charge. Just give it a try!

You can add this to test? http://codecanyon.net/item/social-share-locker-pro-wordpress-plugin/8137709

Nice test. We recently did a similar test with slightly different methodology using Webpagetest. Besides performance we also evaluated privacy and features here https://xhtmlized.com/blog/social-media-buttons-test-performance-privacy-features/

Interestingly, in our test Jetpack performed quite well, while Shareaholic and AddToAny didn't. I think one of the problems is what should be the main criteria for evaluating performance. Since most of these buttons load asynchronously, we've tried to combine Speed Index, Load Time, Number of Requests and Page size both on document complete and fully loaded page events.

I also think we cannot just look at performance without looking at potential privacy issues. That reveals why many of these plugins do so many requests which they wouldn't have to if they just provide plain sharing functionality. For example Shareaholic was the worst privacy offender with 12 cookies set and requests to 30 different domains.

As thewpcat pointed out above, and it was also the result of our test, the best for performance and privacy is to implement custom social media buttons using social share URLs. Number of shares can be implemented by querying SharedCount API or using a library like Barebones Share Buttons.

Can you have a look on this one, please?
http://codecanyon.net/item/social-share-locker-pro-wordpress-plugin/8137709

Is a great alternative on Social niche and if is working pretty fast, having the Locker feature included can be a good deal for everyone.

About the Ultimate Social, indeed, I've used for a while but disabled it 'cause of the resource consumption.

Thanks for including Simple Share Buttons Adder in the article. It inspired me to take speed one step further, I've just released Simple Share Buttons Light - https://simplesharebuttons.com/light/ - available now from the WordPress plugin directory - https://wordpress.org/plugins/simple-share-buttons-light/

Social Warfare, no competition. Lightweight, awesome optimization features, great support.

Great post - thank you. Turns out I have TWO of the slowest performing share plugins on my site!! Soon to be gone :) Now ... you have a sticky bar at the top of this page with share buttons on it. I love it! Can you tell us about that? Is it a plugin? Can we get hold of it? How fast is it?

@James: We don't use any plugins for our sticky bar, it's a custom code ^^ We are using a transient to store and display the share count.

Thanks so much for this excellent post! I'm looking for an alternative to shareholic because it drags down page speed. This is a great help.

Great post, thank you. I currently use ShareThis and am looking to put in something new -- one of those you recommend. I wonder if you know any that include both the Like/Share Facebook button and also a Facebook button to Like/Follow the site -- as at heavy.com. Thanks.

Thanks for taking the time to do this - very useful. My site was slowed down badly by a social sharing plugin and that's how I found your post. My problem has been solved thanks to this.

Hi, good post. I was also worried about the performance of social sharing buttons on speed. Currently I am using add to any buttons. After reading your post I will experiment with other fast social sharing buttons on my blog http://apnatarika.com

Hi Lucy. Thanks for writing this useful article! I had a problem with slow loading times on my site. One of the culprits was my existing sharing plugin. After reading this, I first went with Social Media Feather, but it wasn't showing share counts and I couldn't see it as an option to turn on. Then I tried Simple Share Buttons Adder. It works really well. My site's loading time dropped to below 1 second and I was a happy camper!

Simple Share is the best one.

Another vote for Social Warfare. I've only recently switched to but am liking it (and its speed) a lot.

This is not a very helpful test since it does not look at caching variables and the impact of increasing load. How well do these plugins do when there are 50-100 people hitting a site and clicking share/like buttons? That's the useful question to answer.

Thank You sir for such detailed test. Finding the proper sharing buttons plugin been a nightmare to me...

Thank you for sharing this test. Looks like I will choose Social Media Feather for my social media follow button.
My current button is very slow.

If you ever do another test like this consider Lightweight Social Icons by Tom Usborne of GeneratePress. I have tried most and this to me is the best option: https://wordpress.org/plugins/lightweight-social-icons/

I wish I would have read this post before purchasing 1 of the top Code Canyon social sharing plugins. It's full of features but it's slowing down our page speed by at least 1-2 secs.

Going for a light social sharing plugin is a must. That 1-2 secs is page load delay is not worth it in terms of your bounce rate, conversions and SEO.

Great article. Thanks!

I really loved the way you have performed such an in-depth comparison. I don't use any of the social media plugin your have listed here instead I use a premium plugin named Social Pug. It would be really interesting if you could add some premium social media plugin like social warfare and elegant theme's Monarch Social Sharing Plugin.

Thanks for such a great post, looking forward to more such comparisons.

Thank you so much for writing this post! It was very helpful.

Social Share Buttons sets al bunch of cookies, bloats and contains malware. Please avoid using this plugin... https://wordpress.org/support/topic/unacceptable/

Very informative and great writing. I was looking for that kind of topic and finally got it. A big thanks to you.

What a useful and well written article… I’ve subscribed to Elegant Themes and never realized they had a plugin for social sharing LOL nor would I probably have worked that out without your help! What theme are you using for this website? Love the clean lines and breathing space… I am looking same wordpress plugins for my site Free Wall Arena please share if you have some useful links

Awesomeness! ~ I was using something else; that was lagging my speed big time. Just switched over to Feather and notice big changes already.

This was a very useful article. I have to second those, however, who raised privacy concerns. Since the publication of this article, two of the top performers, Simple Share Buttons and Social Media Feather, now make calls to ShareThis, which lowers PageSpeed and YSlow scores and increases load time more than I would have expected from your analysis. With Social Media Feather, though, I think that is a relatively recent change.

I started on a quest for a new social media plugin mostly because Jetpack's calls to update the share counts were one of the big factors slowing down page loading. After spending a whole day trying plugins, most of which actually had a bigger impact on speed than what Jetpack was doing, I discovered that adding a simple line to the functions.php file (or through a plugin like code snippets) stopped the share counts and their associated loading issues.

Hi William
This article was written well before Simple Share Buttons got involved with ShareThis :( I was quite annoyed when they introduced that, however I believe you can remove the call to ShareThis by opting out of their Terms of Service on the settings screen.
This post could use a refresh, certainly :)
Thanks for your comment!

This was such a useful article and I found my current plugin on it, but yes it does need to be updated! I had Simple Share and it was slowing down everything by a whole second, switched to Light Weight Social Icons it's a widget and was not impressed with the features and then to Social Warfare. Pretty happy with it, and there's only .2 difference in speed. Not a lot of features in the free version but fine if you want simplicity.

I am using Monarch and It is awesome. The only con is ajax.php calls for total shares count. 2nd one is Social Warfare. I love the features. It is easy to use and have a good speed.

First of all thank you for posting. The plugin I am looking for is the one you are having on your website. Could you please let me know what plugin are you using.???
Regards

You got to be kidding me. Monarch is listing as one of the fastest social share plugins.? I guess you have not turned on its social counters.

It uses Admin Ajax file a lot. Almost every time a page is viewed it calls admin ajax to update social counters. They say they have counter cache but it does not work.

Their support forum has many threads on this issue since Monarch was launched in 2014 and they have to fix for the problem.

Expect adding couple of seconds when Monarch has its social counters turned on.

The sidebar of your site plays an important role in conversion & improving page-views. A common practice is to install 'Email Subscription' & 'social media follow buttons' in the sidebar. The placement is normally above the fold, which in turns improves the number of page views and get more CTR. Its a really important list of Social Media Follow Plugins.

Most of the social sharing button will affect your loading time in the case of badly coded plugin + poor response from the server. If your website is loading within 3 seconds, I think you need not require to worry about. I'm not using any plugin for following. I just design characters like Facebook for 'F' with the blue background. Because I don’t want any plugin that takes times to load. These characters look great and not taking much loading time. I would suggest hiring a WordPress developer. By the end, it’s your choice to make something user-defined which is in front of you or put extra try to get the customised design work done. Anyways, thanks for sharing and requesting you to please keep updating with new plugins.

Shareaholic recently released a complete revamp of their platform. It is worth giving them another look. Shareaholic is now blazing fast. A huge improvement over what it used to be. They're best in class after their updates IMHO.

Social Warfare is kinda slow for me, and from the latest updates, it seems it crashes for everyone and messes up their site. No I have no reason to bash socialwarfare, I used them in the past...but just check their reviews for their free plugin for example in wordpress repository, plenty of 1 stars as of late from people upset with the new update. I'm using Simple Share Buttons Adder now on my sites, much better.

Am a beginner blogger and looking social sharing wordpress plugin for blog where I can share content on whatsapp as well as other social networking site. Thanks for sharing great post. Regards

@NetHustler I came here by searching for "Social Warfare slow", so can definitely relate. Something going on lately and it's killing our site speed, as indicated by Flywheel's "slow request log" being dominated by SW. Hope they can fix it soon as otherwise it's a great plugin

Compared to other sharing plugins, Social Warfare Pro has outdone itself. No other social sharing tool can provide great features such as social optimization tools, twitter share count, click to tweet features, and twitter cards. I give this plugin thumbs up to its developers. It has been my choice, and have used it for years hence, am sure it will be yours too. Get it to maximize your WordPress website or blog experience. Awesome article keep it up in future and thanks for sharing with us.

Best article I've read on this topic. Currently using shareaholic, but it is really slowing my site down. I'm gonna give masharer a try, because as I can see from the results it adds very few http requests.

Dudes, Shareaholic is probably the fastest, modern solution available today. Shareaholic team recently pushed everything over to HTTP/2 and is now 100% loaded from Cloudfront CDN. HTTP/2 is a whole new paradigm of thinking about web optimization. For example, # of requests no longer matters. In fact, it is perfectly OK and often better to break your code into smaller files. This was not the case with HTTP/1. I've become a fanboy once I understood the nuances and their modern thinking.

Sharethis and Add this is also very good plugins. It is very easy to implement in our website either its from custom html or wordpress site.

all test base on the performance, did you all ever find out what is this plugin doing to your database?
i see many empty databases with empty value created by social warfare. for each post x types of social sharing you have. thousand of them, all empty is there is no count. is this called performance? LOL

Shareaholic is not ideal, the price is not attractive its like paying for your host. LOL

Absolutely love Shareaholic. Been using for more than 4 years and have been very happy. Plans start at $0 and provide more functionality in the free tier than the other options available. That said, I upgraded to a paid plan as I found the package worthwhile. Hope this helps.


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