WP Social Lock Review | WordPress Plugin

WP Social Lock Review – WordPress Plugin

WP Social Lock is a WordPress plugin that was originally sold, I believe, as a WSO through the Warrior Forum but we came across it more recently when trying to solve the problem of locking specific content on a WordPress site until the visitor took a specific action – we wanted to make content available only after the visitor shared a specific page or post either via Facebook, twitter or Google +1.

This is not a new concept and marketers have been employing such “social content locking” methods for some time now but despite the fact that there are a variety of options on offer we constantly found that either the solutions didn’t work or were capable of only fulfilling part of our requirements.

We’ve listed most of the things we tried at the end of this review so that you won’t have to search as hard as we did!

The good news is that we found a winner in WP Social Lock, a neat little plugin now owned and distributed by Marc Hennes who has proved to be a very helpful and responsive plugin developer.

The video below sums up WP Social Lock in a nutshell if you don’t wish to read our entire post.

As you can see from the above demo, the idea behind WP Social Lock is to restrict certain areas of your site from public view, much as you would do with the various content locking plugins available as stand alone scripts or features of membership plugins, whereby only registered or logged in members can see certain content on your site. There are plenty of free plugins that can do this in the WordPress plugin repository. However, what this plugin allows you to do is restrict your selected content to only those who share your selected URL via one of the three main social networking sites and at present there are not any free plugins that do this as far as we know.

The benefits of this are obvious. First and foremost it will generate traffic from all three of the social networks as people Tweet, Like and +1 your page/post and give it exposure to potentially unlimited new visitors. It has excellent viral potential and used wisely can gain you a lot of visitors and perhaps a lot of customers or subscribers, whatever you are looking for in essence.

The claim that you will generate huge numbers of backlinks is perhaps true in part, although how much weight Facebook and Twitter links really carry is anyone’s guess to be honest and as for Google +1 it’s perhaps too early to tell how much an increased number of likes is going to impact your ranking or SERPS results. Ultimately though, none of these increases will do your sites any harm and you will get more traffic.

WP Social Lock has been around for a while now but its usage is still not as widespread as you might expect for such a neat little WordPress plugin. As we’ve already said, there are several others around, most more expensive and invariably incapable of offering shares on the big three networks. There are several Facebook only plugins but despite Facebook‘s massive reach there are still plenty of people who don’t use it. Restricting content based on a Facebook “Like” is a little tough on those folks, as indeed is restricting it to just Twitter. By using the three options in WP Social Lock you probably have the majority of internet users covered.

The plugin is easy to install and use – entering a simple shortcode before the content you wish to lock is all there is to it really.

So what about problems? Well, like many WordPress plugins, conflicts can arise with themes, other plugins you may be running etc. but Marc is helpful and responsive with his support so if you do encounter any issues they should be resolved fairly quickly. When you run other plugins that rely on the API’s of sites like Facebook and Twitter it’s not always the plugin’s fault when odd behaviour strikes.

One question that was raised frequently when the plugin was first launched and only offered Facebook and Twitter options was whether it would affect the spidering of your content by search engines. The answer to this is no – even though human visitors cannot see the content until they complete the required action, the spiders are granted full access to read and crawl the entire post or page so there should be no detrimental effects on the SERPS performance.

We had one minor issue with another plugin we were using on the site where we first tested WP Social Lock but after a quick process of elimination we isolated the conflict and informed Marc, who immediately set to work in the quest for a solution. We found our own fix in the end but our emails were all answered promptly and helpfully.

(If you would like to see a real world example of a page on which we deployed WP Social Lock here is one you can check out).

wp social lock e cover 1a32 WP Social Lock Review | WordPress PluginOverall, we love this plugin and recommend it to anyone who is looking for ways to boost their traffic. All we would add is that it isn’t something you should use indiscriminately. Selective restriction of your best/most valuable content is quite reasonable but overdoing it could be a real turnoff for a lot of people if you demand they share too much before allowing them access and they will be more likely to move on if you get too heavy handed.

If you would like to try WP Social Lock for free you can download WP Social Lock Lite free from here. (The Lite version allows you to lock content subject to a tweet on Twitter).

We hunted high and low for both free and paid solutions to social content locking on WordPress and came up with quite a few but in terms of value for money, user experience, layout, ease of use and features, WP Social Lock was a clear winner. Here are just a few others that we looked at, tried or rejected. All have their pros and cons, and as you will see, most are not quite as simple or well featured. We are going to be looking at a free plugin in the course of the next few weeks which although not really a competitor to WP Social Lock is pretty cool in its own right so watch this space for that one.

Other Social Content Locking plugin options for WordPress users:

WP Like Lockout – we haven’t personally tested this one but the sales page itself employs the lockout which seems a bit counter productive if you ask us. It would appear to be an OK plugin if you want to use Facebook likes alone but it uses popups which are a lot more intrusive and potentially frustrating for visitors than WP Social Lock’s interface. Much will depend on the settings you elect to use on the popup. It is also more expensive by around ten bucks so in terms of value for money it’s in last place here on that basis alone – there are better and cheaper choices as you can see. If you want to see it in action there is a video at this link WP Like Lockout

Google +1 Content Locker – simple, easy to use and cheap at just $7.00. If you’re going to go for a single content locking option Google might be the best bet as opposed to Facebook. Only time will tell. You can get Google +1 Content Locker here.

WordPress Like Locker – from the same author as the above and also cheap at $7.00. We have used this in the past and it’s effective enough, not overly intrusive and simple to use. If all you care about is Facebook likes it’s a good enough choice. See the details at WordPress Like Locker

Social Traffic Pop  – the third option from the same stable as the previous two plugins. Works on all three major networks – Google +1, Facebook and Twitter. Comes in at $18.00. We like this one and have used it in the past but still prefer the non pop up approach to content locking overall. Having said that, this is the cheapest of the plugins that support all three networks and represents good value for money. Read more about Social Traffic Pop.

This list is not exhaustive and there are other products out there which may or may not float your boat but if you want an easy professional looking social content locking plugin, our recommendation for WP Social Lock is one we are happy to make.

Please let us know what you think in the comments section. Have you ever used WP Social Lock? What do you think about social content locking in general? Would you ever try it or do you think it would  put off your visitors? Do you have any experience of other WordPress solutions that we haven’t mentioned?

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