As the WordPress ecosystem evolves, we’re always exploring new options and ways to make websites even better.
Sometimes that means migrating between form builders, focusing on performance, and cleaning up how things work.
So while we certainly have our preferences when it comes to plugins or frameworks, there’s always an opportunity to improve and provide even more value to our clients.
One of the requests we’ve continually gotten over the years is to fully integrate social media into the websites we build – with real-time tweets, the latest Instagram photos, and Facebook Like boxes all a part of the site.
Surprisingly, that’s always something that has been either incredibly easy or incredibly difficult to achieve.
“Show our most recent Instagram photos” was once a simple request. But as social media sites lessen the amount of data that can be pulled and require more constant connections to ensure your website is using that data appropriately, integrating social media has become increasingly complicated.
In the case of Instagram, pulling the latest photos from your organization’s feed requires an app connected to the Instagram Basic Display API. And for that, you need an Access Token. And that Access Token has to stay current, being refreshed regularly.
I know, your eyes are glazing over already. I’m falling asleep just writing this.
Wouldn’t it be nice if something just worked?
If all you had to do was just approve access to your social media account from your website, and then could embed your posts into your site with a shortcode or two?
Thankfully, that solution exists.
We’ve found the solution to the difficult process of integrating your latest social media posts into WordPress websites: Smash Balloon.
It’s the social media feed plugin that just works.
Technically, Smash Balloon is a company, and they have a suite of plugins, including:
The first four plugins are relatively straight-forward; get your latest Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/YouTube content directly fed into your site, with no need for continuous updates or re-connecting your account.
Take a look at how our client Silver Branch Brewing integrates their Instagram feed into their website:
It automatically updates, links each image either to a lightbox or to the photo on Instagram, allows the user to load more photos, and has more than one call to action to follow their account.
Setting up the social feeds is easy: install the plugin, link the plugin to your social account, and insert the provided shortcode wherever you want on your site. That’s it.
If you’d like to customize the appearance and functionality, there are a ton of options available to you as well.
The other two plugins Smash Balloon offers provide more unique value to your website.
The Social Wall plugin allows you to combine multiple social media accounts into one giant feed; so if you are active on multiple social media networks and want to promote that activity on your site, this is the way to do it.
Here’s what the Social Wall looks like, complete with filters for displaying only content from each individual network.
The last plugin from Smash Balloon is their Reviews Feed, which makes it easy to display the latest reviews from Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and more. If your website acts as a lead generation tool, and you’ve invested in asking your customers to leave positive reviews, then this can be a great way to get those testimonials in front of potential sales as they’re considering contacting you.
When you’re integrating multiple third-party services with your website, it can get complicated – fast. What we’ve found with Smash Balloon is that it just works. All of the complications are gone, and you can spend more time working on other things.
Smash Balloon is available to all of our Website Management clients for free. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.