5 Ways to Optimise Your Social (Count) Buttons

Note: This post was first published on the Sep 17, 2013.

Nowadays, including social sharing buttons on web pages is a popular way to boost user interaction and make sharing content easier. However, these buttons can significantly slow down your website’s loading time.

Take the Facebook Like button as an example. The script that retrieves the “like” count and adds the button’s HTML markup can greatly affect your site’s speed. This effect is even more pronounced if you place a like button on each post.

In this article, we’ll explore various methods to fine-tune social sharing buttons to boost your site’s loading speed. We’ve experimented with numerous tools and scripts, and here are our top 5 picks, along with their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s dive in.

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1. Socialite

Socialite is a JavaScript library created by David Bushell. It optimizes your page’s load time by loading social buttons only when needed, like when users hover over them or scroll down the page.

Socialite Library
  • Available as a WordPress plugin.
  • Works without jQuery or other libraries.
  • Triggers the loading of social buttons on various events like hover, scroll, or click.
  • Can be customized using CSS.
  • Supports a wide range of social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Spotify, and GitHub, and can be extended to others.
  • Does not support querying share or like counts.

2. Sharrre

Sharrre is a jQuery plugin that helps you add social buttons to your website. It offers a variety of APIs for extensive customization of the buttons.

Sharrre jQuery Plugin
  • Supports a wide array of social network buttons, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, and others.
  • Fully customizable buttons using CSS and plugin options.
  • Capability to fetch and aggregate share counts.
  • Integration with Google Analytics for tracking.
  • Available as a WordPress plugin.
  • Requires jQuery to function.
  • Depends on an additional PHP script for querying Google+ share counts.

3. TNW Social Count

TNW Social Count, initially created for The Next Web, is a WordPress plugin that tracks and displays article share counts. The developer has generously made this plugin available for free, though it doesn’t include every feature of the original version.

TNW Social Count Plugin
  • User-friendly WordPress plugin with an intuitive GUI and template tag.
  • Supports four major social networks: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  • Highly customizable with CSS.
  • Flexibility to fetch share counts automatically or on demand.
  • Limited to WordPress, requiring extra steps for use with Joomla or Drupal.
  • Adds additional fields to the database, which could be problematic for hosting plans with limited database resources.
  • Currently, support is limited to the four social networks mentioned above.

4. Filament Social Count

Social Count, developed by Filament Group, is a jQuery plugin that efficiently integrates sharing buttons from Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ into websites. It enhances page loading speed by loading each button separately and only when the user interacts with it.

Filament Social Count Plugin
  • Buttons are loaded individually upon user interaction, like hovering.
  • Extremely light, with a file size of only 2.98KB.
  • Compatible with touch devices.
  • Limited to buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ only.
  • Dependent on jQuery, adding an extra 93kb to the load size.

5. Social Likes

Social Likes is a jQuery plugin that displays social buttons along with their share counts. It features styles that closely resemble the original buttons, as you can see in the screenshot below.

Social Likes Plugin
  • Comes with default button styles that closely mimic the original designs.
  • Allows for customization of appearance through CSS and GUI options.
  • Includes support for additional networks like Pinterest and LiveJournal.
  • Can be easily extended to include more social networks.
  • Like Sharrre, it depends on jQuery and a PHP script for querying Google+ counters.
  • Automatically queries for counter numbers when the page loads.