Last year, Twitter made a controversial decision to shut down the API that allowed most Twitter buttons to display tweet counts on their web pages.
Many webmasters and social media managers expressed their frustration and protested the decision, but Twitter still decided to shut down the API.
Does the removal of share counts reduce social sharing? While opinions may vary, a study by Shareaholic showed that Twitter shares are down 11% since Twitter removed the ability to display share counts on their tweet buttons.
The good news is that some people developed some apps that can still view tweet counts and even display them on your website.
I tested these apps and here are my findings:
Buzzsumo is a tool that allows people to quickly find popular content on the web. They paid Twitter a hefty fee to access their tweet count data.
People can view this data for free by visiting the Buzzsumo website and signing up for a free account.
Additionally, Chrome users can download the Buzzsumo browser plugin which allows users to view social share counts for the web page they are currently viewing.
Steve Rayson from Buzzsumo reached out to me and provided some more info about the plugin.
Twitter share counts get updated after a few days, rather than right away. More popular articles will get their share counts updated more frequently.
Also, if you find a page that doesn’t have share count data yet, Buzzsumo will crawl it and update the counts. Steve says to allow at least 30 minutes for this to occur, but in my experience it may take longer for the share counts to update in Buzzsumo.
The Verdict: If you want to be able to view tweet counts, sign up for a free Buzzsumo account and install their Chrome browser add-on.
2. Open Share Count
Open Share Count is an app currently in beta that does not use Twitter’s API. Simply add one line of code below your existing tweet buttons and your Twitter shares will be displayed again.
One nice feature of this app is that you can customize the bubble size and direction. You can also display tweet counts from any other page on your site, instead of just the page that the share counter is located.
Open Share Count is currently limited to one website per Twitter account. So if you have multiple websites, you will need to sign up with one Twitter account for each website.
This app does not display historical Twitter share counts, but may be a good option to display share counts on articles going forward.
The Verdict: Open Share Count can be a good solution for new websites that want to display share counts.
Twitcount is another app that allows you to display tweet counts on your blog posts.
To start using it, simply log into their website using your Twitter account. Then add their code where you want the tweet button to display.
There is a slight delay between when the share counts actually get updated after an article is tweeted. Twitcount says that they update the counts every couple of minutes though.
One nice feature of Twitcount is that they provide statistics on which articles got the most tweets. Twitcount does not display historical tweets, but will start recording Twitter share data after you sign up.
The Verdict: Twitcount is another free option that is worth trying if you want to display tweet counts on your website going forward and also has the additional advantage of displaying Twitter sharing statistics in their console.
4. New Shared Counts
New Shared Counts is an app created by Artur Brugeman to display share counts. New Shared Counts actually detects existing Twitter buttons and adds the share count bubble back to the button.
One really nice feature of New Shared Counts is that it automatically detects the direction of the share count bubble from your other share buttons and displays it in the same direction.
To sign up, you will need to log in with your Twitter account and add the code snippet on the pages that you want the share counts to display. The tweet counts get updated immediately after a page is tweeted.
You can visit their website to see which WordPress plugins the app works with, but even if the plugin that you are using is not listed, it is still worth testing. The plugin that I was using on my websites was not listed, but New Shared Counts still worked.
The app author collected Twitter share data from popular sites before Twitter shut down their API, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it displayed share counts for some of my older articles.
The Verdict: New Shared Counts is a good app to try if you already use another social sharing plugin on your website. It’s also worth trying if you want tweet counts displayed from your older pages.
5. Other Social Sharing Plugins
There are also some other social sharing apps that still display Twitter share data, but they do not integrate with Twitter.
These plugins work by updating share counts when the tweet button is pressed. The downside of this approach is that it doesn’t count instances where an article was shared directly on Twitter or through a third party app like Buffer or Hootsuite.
While these plugins might not display accurate tweet counts, they can show you how many people are actually using the tweet button to share your page.
One plugin I found that fits into this category was Getsocial.io.
The Verdict: Social sharing plugins that don’t integrate with Twitter can be useful if you want to view shares from people that are using your tweet buttons.
If you want to be able to view share counts from websites that you are browsing, then sign up for a free Buzzsumo account and install their Chrome browser plugin. Buzzsumo can be useful for seeing how popular articles are on social media.
If you want to display share counts on your website, then sign up for Open Share Count, Twitcount or New Shared Counts and then add the code to your website.
I would sign up for all three so that they all store your Twitter data in case you decide to switch services later. But you only need to install one of them on your website.
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