A picture paints a thousand words
So can social media images, especially if they’re on point and relevant to the article in question. Whether you’re a fan of social media or not, there’s no ignoring it, and truth be told, you need it, especially if you’re running a blog or website.
Social Media Images Bring Visitors
Social media images can drive traffic to blog posts; think of them as a call to action. When you share a post on Twitter or Facebook, a picture is displayed.
Personally, my attention gets drawn to the image, then the snippet of text, and then the title. I’m not alone in this way of thinking; that’s why having decent quality social media images for sharing is critical in driving traffic to your blog/website.
When sharing posts or pages on social media, it’s the featured image that’s shown. Some WordPress plugins let you choose a different picture (instead of the featured image) for social media, SEO plugins, social sharing plugins, etc.
All well and good, but what about the automation and customization of images for social media?
What if I told you there’s a new plugin that aims to change the game when it comes to blog images. One that’s supposed to make things easier automate it and add text overlays, and drive traffic to your website/blog?
Would you be interested in finding out more? Cool. Read on.
About The Social Image Generator WordPress Plugin
Born of an idea from Daniel Post (the plugin author), the Social Image Generator’s whole purpose is to make bloggers and website owners lives more manageable when it comes to social media imagery. By automation.
You spend hours creating content, sourcing images, and such. Perhaps like me, you use a platform like Canva to create featured images. Enticing a visit, and encourage social sharing.
Social Image Generator looks to alleviate that stress. Here are some of the features it offers:
- Automatic generation of social media images based on your featured image.
- Fully compatible with Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, VK, WhatsApp, iMessage, Reddit & more.
- It comes with a template editor with different designs to choose from.
- Developer friendly – I can’t cover this as I’m not a developer!
Yes, I’ve lifted the features off the plugin’s website; I just wanted to give you an idea of what to expect. I think we can agree; it all sounds promising enough. What about the pricing structure?
Social Image Generator Plugin Pricing
As of now, the plugin hasn’t even been released. Daniel, very kindly let me take a look at the plugin and test it for review purposes.
Looking at the pricing structure, it seems quite fair to me. Daniel did mention in an email that each plan has two activations. One for a site and one for a development site.
Those of you who like to test to make sure everything is working correctly before pushing to a live site is a godsend.
I say the pricing looks fair; the reason for that is if this plugin can do what it says on the tin, imagine how much time it could save you as a fellow blogger or website owner?
Let’s install this sucker and see what it can do. Bearing in mind, this is a beta version (as yet unreleased), so there ‘could’ be some issues.
Installing Social Image Generator
Before I begin the installation, the first thing I’ve noticed is the ZIP file came in at 9.7MB, which is fairly sizable.
Plugin installed, now for the activation.
Once activated, some plugins take you to an overview or at least some kind of settings page. Not the case with the Social Image Generator plugin.
I managed to find the settings page; it’s under > Tools > then Social Image Generator.
Social Image Generator Settings
So the meat of SIG settings (yes, I will use an abbreviation, my fingers hurt) looks to reside here.
License key for adding your license in no brainer, and the Cache.
As it states underneath the Image Folder (I’ve blurred the URL), “Social Image Generator saves all generated images.” with a total count of how many are saved.
Also, there’s a setting to Refresh Images by clearing the cache via a click of a button.
“Social Image Generator automatically generates new images when necessary and saves them in the folder above. If something went wrong, you can clear the cache manually to regenerate all images.”
I’ll see if I can test this out as well.
Back to the top, and probably what you’ve been waiting for the Template.
Social Image Generator & Templates
Templates act as the default style for your social media images. Using the template editor, you can change various settings. Let’s take a look through the templates first. See what’s available.
How Many Templates Are Available?
At current count, there are 21 different templates for you to use; take a look at what’s on offer:
There is something for everyone in terms of templates, which is fantastic to see. These are what they are, templates, and it’s time to make some changes; what can you change exactly?
Creating A Template For Automatic Social Media Image Generation
Although I’m testing this on a shared web host and not my domain, I thought I’d share with you how to go about making it on-brand for your blog.
God knows I love purple, so with that in mind, let’s take Social Image Generator through the paces.
To keep things on point when it comes to social media having your logo on display is vital. You want your brand/blog at the forefront of everyone’s mind when viewing your social media image.
As I’m using the TwentyTwentyOne WordPress theme for this review, I thought I’d use the template for it. See below:
So what can you change? Well, here are the options for this template:
- Site Title here, you can click to display your site title, the name of your website.
- Site Link displays the actual physical URL of your site.
- Image or, in other words, the logo of your site.
- Text choosing this option will display the title of your post.
- No Logo as it states.
You can change the colors of elements; it depends on what you need; each option will have a color setting associated with it.
I’ve made some changes to this template, and this is what I discovered:
In this example, I’ve gone with an image logo. A pretty cool feature is the ability to resize the logo by dragging on the blue icon dot, as shown in the image above.
Also, I’ve added some custom text instead of the example text; this gives me a better idea of how things will look. Plus, I’ve changed the background color to be more in keeping with my site LayerWP.
This is a reasonably straightforward example, so let’s kick it up a notch and choose a template with an image. After all, we want to make this eye-catching!
Images In Templates
This next example uses an image or featured image. There are a few more settings available when using an image:
I’ve chosen the Edge template, and I quite like the style of it. You’ll notice in the screenshot I’ve highlighted the Fallback Image.
It’s here you can upload an image in case a post or page doesn’t have one. We all forget to add a photo now and again, so this is a nice feature.
I’ve changed the background color and increased the size of the logo to fill some space.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- You can’t change the text size; in fact, you can’t change the text size on any of the templates.
- You can’t reposition the text, nor can you move the logo (save for increasing or decreasing it in size.
- You can’t change the font.
- You can’t adjust the featured image position.
I don’t know whether or not the above will end up being features further down the road. It would be nice to have the options, though.
I’ve gone through all the templates and can confirm none of the above are in place.
What is pretty cool though, is switching between the templates keeps your text, logo, and Fallback image on display instead of redoing them.
I’ve found one I like the look of now, with the image as a background. Take a look at the below example:
So what happens now? Let’s take a look at creating a new post in the backend of WordPress. See if there are any more options and what it looks like!
Automatic Social Media Images In Posts/Pages
I’ve created a test post entitled “A Test Post For Social Media Image Generator.” imaginative, right? It serves a purpose.
I’m using the Gutenberg editor for this example; for those of you using the classic editor, I’ll cover you as well, don’t worry.
Options in Gutenberg/Block Editor
These options are under Post options, not Block. The ones with Status & visibility etc. Scrolling down, you’ll see the option as displayed in the image above.
Note the image? It’s the featured image for the post itself. Now it gets fancy. I like it. I like it a lot.
Custom Text in Social Image Generator
Let’s say you want to experiment; your post title is excellent for the search engines; what about social media? Could you make it more alluring?
Using the Custom Text feature, I’ve added in a new title. See below for the result:
A killer feature. Perfect for those who like to experiment with different titles of posts/pages. The text updates in real-time as well, so you can see what it will look like and decide whether to run with it.
Run experiments with different text, see which one increases social media traffic and shares. If it’s not working? Change the text; try something different. A brilliant feature indeed.
In no way, shape, or form affects the post/page’s actual physical title, only the image’s text.
It gets better.
Image Type Setting
The default setting is Featured Image; however, should you wish to, you can choose a different image altogether—another brilliant feature.
Why do I like this feature? Adding a custom image and changing the image text is a great way to make small changes that could impact traffic.
Have a better graphic or image? Or something completely insane, add it in, change the text, sit back, and see if it works. If it doesn’t work, change things up.
These two features alone could save bloggers vast amounts of time.
Lastly in Image Type, I’ve chosen no image:
By choosing no image your Fallback image from the Template Editor will be used, if you have no Featured Image in place.
Disable Social Image
If you’d prefer not to have a social media image, then use the toggle, and the option will disappear. I can’t see why you’d want to do this, but it’s nice to see it as an option for those who’d like to disable it.
Does It Work With Pages As Well?
Yes, I can confirm 100%. Tested and works with pages, no point in showing you screenshots; it’s the same process!
Social Image Generator Example
I’ve made a test post, as you know; here’s how it looks on the front end:
The first thing that strikes you is the Featured Image, not the social media image. What happens when you share the post on social media?
For that test, I will use Social Share Preview; it’s a great tool to see what your post/page will look like on social media. Take a look at the result below:
I can confirm that Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin & Pinterest all work using this tool.
Scenario Time What If You Change The Template?
For the sake of argument, maybe you want to change your Template to something completely different. Perhaps you’ve changed the color scheme of your site and want to try something new. What happens then?
In the Template editor, I’ve chosen something different as below:
Template change made. Navigating back to the test post:
Template’s change has taken effect, fantastic now I don’t have to worry about any errors! Another great time-saving feature, I’m impressed with the Social Image Generator plugin so far.
What About The Classic Editor, Not Everyone Uses Gutenberg. Will It Work?
I’ve installed the Classic Editor plugin to strip out the Gutenberg Editor, as I understand many of you prefer it. That said, I’ve created a new post, and the Social Image Generator settings are there:
Does it work, though? Well, I need to publish the post and run it through Social Share Preview; here goes nothing 🙂
For those of you using the Classic editor, rejoice, Social Image Generator works. Noice.
What About Image Sizes I Don’t Want Thousands of Images Housed On My Server
I hear you on that one who does? The answer, no one. So me being me, I’ve done some testing for you all.
Take the latest example; the one I created for the Classic Editor. The original image came in at 36KB.
Now, doing some routing around, I managed to find the Social Share Image Generator image; I had to look at the source code to find it; there isn’t a directory you can view through the WordPress backend.
What was the file size for it?
198KB in total, so that’s quite a lot more. Considering the original image size and the additional elements such as my logo and title, and background style, it’s quite sizable.
If you’re a blogger and have thousands of posts, the Social Image Generator image folder could become quite sizable indeed. So please bear that in mind.
Clarification on Caching from Daniel Post Via Twitter
One thing I hadn’t mentioned yet: SIG actually has a fairly advanced caching system, which should hopefully help limit the impact on file size.
In short: images are cached for a week by default (this can be changed with one line of code to any arbitrary amount of time).Daniel Post Via Twitter
When an image gets pulled (for example, posted on FB) the “caching deadline” automatically resets to a week. Once a day, all images which are past this deadline (haven’t been used in a week) get deleted from storage. This ensures your storage doesn’t get clogged with old files.Daniel Post Via Twitter
This is fantastic news and should allay any fears of a burgeoning server!!
Does Social Image Generator Keep All The Image Variations?
It’s an important question, and I wondered whether it did as well. Thankfully it doesn’t; every time you change to a different template or add custom text to a post or page, it overwrites the image.
I tested this by finding the image URL, then changing the custom text, and refreshing the image URL, and I can confirm it overwrites!
Great news for server space! Which we all know can come at a premium.
Potential Applications For Social Image Generator
I, for one, am loving SIG. Sure it could be better (more on that later); let’s dig into potential application areas. Writing up this review, I had a few ideas (as I usually do), and one of the fantastic ways to use SIG, would be with WooCommerce.
I’ve installed WooCommerce, A) to see if SIG works with it and B) to satisfy an idea I’ve just had.
Sadly there are no settings in products for Social Image Generator, but it does work. See below for what I mean:
Perhaps it’s a feature on its way? Remember this is a pre-release version of Social Image Generator. Technically this is not a bug.
I was interested in seeing if I could create a call to action for a product using the custom text option.
Imagine being able to create a coupon in WooCommerce then pasting it into the custom text within SIG. Creating social sharing images with coupon codes, discounts, and special pricing wouldn’t that be amazing!
It looks like the functionality is there, just a case of wiring things up, I for one would love to see this!
Custom Post Types Does Social Image Generator Work With Them?
Well, I’ve installed Custom Post Type UI available freely on WordPress.org. Why? Well, if you have custom post types, you need to know if it works or not!
So I’ve found a bug; I’ve created a custom post type, and when I navigate to add a new post for the custom post type, I have the following error:
How do I know this is down to Social Image Generator? Well, I deactivated it, and things went back to normal!
In fairness to Daniel, he did say there would be some bugs, and if I’m truthful, it would be incredibly hard of me to mark this plugin down for this, especially when it is not even released!
Social Image Generator Review Verdict
I’ve got to admit I love this plugin; the sheer amount of time you could save automating social media images is incredible. When you consider it takes me 20 minutes or so per post/page to create something in Canva.
- Automation, a real time saver.
- Excellent selection of templates.
- Rewriting images, instead of storing every variation.
- Easy to use, really easy.
- Custom text features and custom image features are killer.
- Changing a template makes changes sitewide.
- The ability to reposition images would be good.
- Change fonts and font size.
- Change the position of the logo in templates.
- A clearer indication of where the settings reside for the plugin.
Bearing in mind, this is a pre-release version, I think Daniel should be very proud of this plugin. Minor issues aside, such as custom post types and WooCommerce, and some editing capabilities (which is more of a personal choice for me), this plugin is well worth looking into.
Is the Social Image Generator worth buying?
I’d say 100% yes. I’m saying that as someone who’s tested the plugin out, and as a blogger who knows how cumbersome it can be to create images for social media.
Would I use the plugin? Well, I’m on the waiting list for the final version, so yes!
Daniel has mentioned he expects it to be released at the end of January; my advice, go check out Social Image Generator website and subscribe to his newsletter.
You never know, there might be a launch offer for it.
|Criteria||Score (Out Of 5)|
|Ease of use||5|
|Final Review Score||4.8|
Oh, before I forget, there are no affiliate links in this review. I did ask Daniel if he had some, so I can add some to the post. He hasn’t set up an affiliate program yet. I thought I’d review the plugin now, rather than wait for affiliate links; if you’re a blogger or website owner, you need to be aware of it sooner rather than later.
The Social Image Generator plugin could save so much of your time!