Honestly, I forget where I first encountered what’s referred to as a social content locker. I saw it on a blog somewhere and immediately wanted to know how they were doing it.

A quick view of the source code led me to the OnePress Social Locker Plugin for WordPress where I promptly purchased a license for $23.

Note, the site says $21 for a single site license, but if you wish to pay through PayPal and not via “prepaid credits” (which most will) then the price is $23. A developer’s license – allowing you to use it on as many sites as you wish – is $105.

What is a Social Content Locker?

For those of you who may have never encountered one (or realized what it was even if you did), a social content locker basically “locks up” content that you designate on your site.

People can’t view the content without sharing your site through a social network of their choice presented in the available options that you choose.

The out of the box OnePress social content locker looks like this (note, the below is a screenshot and will not “work” – a functional example will be included later in this post)…

Social Locker Plugin

As far as what the locked content is, it can be anything you designate. Text, a link to a file download, a free eBook – anything that can go in or be linked to from within the content of a regular post can be “locked” with the OnePress Social Locker.

In short, the social locker allows you to lock up awesome or highly desired content and only allow people to access it if they “pay” to do so with a social share.

OnePress Social Locker Plugin Installation

Installation is easy. Just head to Plugins > Add New and do a search for OnePress Social Locker. You’ll be presented with the free version of their plugin.

Wait – there’s a free version? Sure is. But be aware it is a lot more limited than the paid version of the plugin.

OnePress Social Locker Plugin – Free vs. Paid

  • The paid version allows you to set any URL for the social share buttons that you want to – and allows you to make that decision post by post – the free version only allows you to set one URL for every post
  • The paid version has more options in regards to “social payment” – for example, you have the option to require someone follow you to unlock the content vs. retweeting your post in the paid version vs. the free one
  • The free version has one design option (theme) for the social content locker – the paid (or premium) version has a total of 4 themes
  • The paid version allows you to use Ajax to hide the locker content in your source code – meaning people can’t merely use the workaround of viewing your source code to get the content without paying the social “fee”

That last one is very important to me as I am using the plugin in several tech savvy industries (including the Sugarrae site). If you’re using it on a blog about crafting, it might not be a huge concern.

Back to the installation. Once you’ve successfully downloaded and installed the plugin, you’ll notice there is a new main menu option in the left sidebar of your WordPress Dashboard.

Social Locker Options

You can click on the License Manager option to enter your license key. Once you do so, you’ll need to update the plugin via the main plugins screen to upgrade it to the paid version. Then you’re ready to go.

Creating and Editing Your Social Lockers

All Social Lockers section

In this section you’ll find a listing of all the social content lockers you’ve created. An example one will appear in the list by default. It’s also where you’ll find the specific shortcode to use for each individual locker you setup. You’ll find the options to edit existing content lockers here as well.

(You can click on all images below to see the enlarged version.)

All social lockers screen

Add Social Locker section

Here’s where we get to start having some fun. You’ll be presented with a screen that will allow you to set all the attributes of the locker. First you’ll see the basic options…

Basic locker creation options

This section allows you to assign the following…

  • Locker title – this is what will appear as the title of this specific locker in the All Social Lockers section
  • Locker header – this is the title of the message users will see on your social locker (in the example screenshot above, that locker header was “Yes, this is the social locker plugin!”
  • Locker message – this allows you to set the message that appears below the locker header (in the example screenshot above, that locker message was “Please support us, use one of the buttons below to unlock the content.”)
  • Theme – if you’re using the paid version, this is where you can choose which of the four themes available you’d like to use (in the example screenshot above, the “Secrets” theme is used

Below are links to screenshots of the four themes available with the paid version of the plugin. Note that the “Starter Theme” is the default version and the only version available in the free version of the plugin.

Once you’ve set your basic options, you’ll see them shown in the Locker Preview section below the basic options. Now it’s time to set your social options…

Social options screen

You have a lot of options here. You’ll see a listing of the following seven options; Tweet, Facebook Like, Google +1, Facebook Share, Follow a specific user on Twitter, Google+ share and LinkedIn share.

Each option has three core attributes (while some have additional attributes). The three core attributes for each option are…

  • Available – on means it will show to your users as an option while off means it won’t – you can see which services are on and off easily in the sidebar (on services are shown in color while off services are faded out)
  • URL to like (or share) – you can either set a specific page like your homepage or leave it blank for it to like or share the page the user is actually on when they click to tweet, like or share it
  • Button text – where you can customize what text appears on the button for that specific social network

Certain social networks have additional options you can set…

  • Tweet includes additional options to allow you to compose the tweet and set a counter URL
  • Facebook Share additional options include setting a name for the attachment, caption, description, image and a counter URL
  • Twitter follow swaps out the URL to like option with a user to follow option
  • Also take note that the Google+ share is currently “experimental” and doesn’t always work according to the message they show you on the Google+ share options screen

After you’ve set your social options, the last thing to do is set your advanced options…

Advanced options

  • The close icon shows a “close” option in the corner of the social locker message – note that if you use this option, if a user clicks the close button, they will be shown the locked content
  • The timer interval allows you to set a timer on the locked content – this means that if a user chooses not to share the post to unlock the content immediately, then they can get it without sharing it but have to wait for the countdown timer (that you’ve set with whatever countdown time you choose) to end
  • The Ajax option allows you to hide the locked content in the source code when set to the on position – this prevents people from being able to find the content when they view your source code… however, also be aware that this means search engines can’t see the locked content either
  • The mobile option allows you to decide if you want the social content locker to appear on the page when the user is viewing it from a mobile device (the plugin is indeed mobile responsive and supports touchscreens)
  • Highlight decides whether or not you want the plugin to use the highlight effect – which temporarily highlights the content once they’ve unlocked it in yellow
  • Hide for members allows you to decide to unlock the content automatically for registered members
  • Content for RSS allows you to decide if the locked content will be visible in your RSS feed

Once you decided on all of the above options, you can click the “Create” or “Update” button on the top right (where the publishing options are by default on the WordPress edit post screen) to save it.

Common Settings

The Common Settings screen has a few basic options you might or might not need to customize.

Common settings screen

  • A spot to input your Facebook App ID if you’re using the Facebook share option in your lockers (see this article for more information)
  • Choosing your language – by default it is set to English
  • Deciding if you want tracking on or off to get statistics on the usage of your lockers (more detail on that below) – by default this is set to on
  • Letting the plugin know if you’re using a dynamic theme or not so the lockers work if you are – by default this is set to no
  • A debug option (which is off by default) allowing you to have lockers always appear, even if you’ve already unlocked the content – very useful when you’re first implementing and testing the plugin on your site

Displaying Your Social Locker

You decide when and where to place your social locker content by using the applicable short code to make it appear. I say applicable because each locker you create will have it’s own ID that needs to be included in the short code. You can find that shortcode in the All Social Lockers section.

Usage Statistic Reports

One highly awesome feature of this plugin is the ability to see how effective (or ineffective) it is on your site. The reports are really detailed and can help you identify what content is being shared as well as on which social networks.

Main Usage Statistics screen

When you land on the main screen you’ll be presented with a report that shows you aggregate statistics for all the social lockers you’re using.

Aggregate usage statistics

You can click on the highlighted social network buttons below the graph (which are the social options you’re actively using in your lockers) to toggle the view to only show you the stats for specific networks.

Below those buttons you’ll see a list of the top 50 posts and pages seeing action on the social lockers within them. You can click on any individual page or post to see the same aggregate screen, but with data specific to that page or post only.

You also have the option to change the date range to show you whatever date range you choose.

Detailed Usage Statistics screen

On the detailed usage statistics screen you basically the same information you did on the main usage statistics screen, except that you can view the graph in a detailed format with each social network having it’s own line.

Detailed stats

You can also once again click on any of the top 50 individual posts or pages using content lockers to see their detailed statistics specifically.

Helper Usage Statistics

This section allows you to see what unlocks (if any) of the “helpers” – meaning the close box option and the timer countdown option – have been associated with vs. social shares. I grabbed a screenshot of this screen from the official plugin site because I don’t use these options on my own sites.

helper stats

Customizing the Styling of Your Lockers

This is one large negative I found in regards to the plugin. While the preset styles (especially Secrets) are more than fine for out of the box use, I wanted to be able to customize the message colors (and whether or not those lock icons appeared) via CSS. The documentation on this appears to be nonexistent.

There is no CSS file in the edit plugin screen for the OnePress Social Locker plugin. Hell, even finding the CSS file for the plugin at all was a difficult task. And once I did, they were no clear instructions for what CSS class controlled what and viewing the source code of the plugin in action on a page did little to demystify the situation.

I seriously almost threw my Macbook Pro through a wall. And then I finally found the CSS and was able to edit it to be able to change the fonts on the Locker header, Locker message and remove the lock icons from the Secrets lock theme. You’ll find the location of the CSS file and the code I used for the CSS styling below.

Potential Uses for this Plugin

Did you see what I just did there? I took valuable information I know people are looking for, but asked for a social share in return for giving it to them.

People looking for the code to edit the styling of this plugin likely already own the plugin. They also have likely never heard of me before and merely found me through a web search (especially considering – as I said – the documentation on this topic is almost nonexistent).

So, while I likely won’t make a sale and may not get a regular reader, I am rewarded with exposure to their network for providing them with the information.

There is still a ridiculous amount of information available in this post – but one component that is likely most appealing to random visitors I likely won’t convert to a sale, a list subscriber or a regular reader is held back in exchange for some exposure.

You could offer printable PDFs of your posts, video downloads, access to bonus tips, free eBooks, code snippets – and the list goes on.

IMHO, $23 bucks is a small price to pay for the potential exposure this plugin can help you achieve.