If you build a blog and nobody knows about it, can it really be said to exist? Philosophical questions like this aside, social networking features are vital to any blog's success. At a minimum, blogs need to be able to integrate with social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter so that people can "like" your blog, retweet it from inside the blog itself, and so on. Both services do a solid job of integrating social networking features.
Social networking features are built into Blogger's basic design for every blog you create, so you won't need to do anything to take advantage of them -- build your blog, and they're right there on the page. Because of this, I had to think less about adding social networking features than I had to do with WordPress.
At the bottom of every post Blogger embeds a row of social networking icons, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Gmail and other Blogger blogs. I found this last feature, called Blog this! to be particularly simple to use -- when a reader clicks the icon, a new blog post will be created including the name of your latest post and a link to it. The reader can then write a Blogger post about your post. If you use the Chrome Web browser, you can also add a Blog this! extension.
In addition, visitors can click a Share link at the top of the page to share the post via Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Gmail. As this link repeats some of the functions automatically inserted at the end of every blog post, it's not clear why the Share link is there.
Google has also recently added a host of ways to integrate Google+ with Blogger. You can combine your Google+ profile with your Blogger profile, for example, and you can easily share your posts when you're inside Google+.
At the top of each blog is a moderately useful Follow link. If someone who has their own Blogger blog clicks it, they'll be able to follow your posts in their Blogger dashboard. They can also choose to make the fact they're following your blog public via Google FriendConnect, which allows others who use FriendConnect to interact with one another on your blog page.
WordPress offers a reasonable set of social networking tools for bloggers. For example, it let me automatically create Facebook and Twitter links whenever I created a new post. It also has a handful of useful social networking widgets in the Dashboard, including a Twitter widget that will display your latest tweets up to the last 20; you can also choose whether to include retweets and whether to hide or display replies.
Facebook "like" box that displays updates from Facebook and links back to that page. However, this feature only works with Facebook Pages (promotional pages for individuals and companies) and not with personal Facebook accounts. A Meebo widget will display any messages you've created on a variety of social networking sites and instant messaging platforms. And I found widgets for turning your blog into an RSS feed, and a del.icio.us widget as well. In addition, a "Publicize" tool lets you automatically send links to your blog posts on a variety of services, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, among others.
WordPress gets the slight edge here, because its Publicize feature goes beyond merely linking to social networking services -- it lets you automatically send messages to those services with links to your latest blog post. For including links to social networking services, Blogger is simpler to use, although if you dig deep in WordPress, you can find add-ons that will perform the same functions.
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