How to Add Media and Functionality to Your WordPress Blog

Photo by pixelcreatures at pixabay.com

When you think about blogging you probably think about writing something, but a good blog can be about so much more. Images, videos, social media, and other functionality can support your posts and more deeply engage your readers. And the great thing about the WordPress content management system is that it makes adding these elements a snap. Let’s look at some examples of the more common functionalities you might be interested in adding to your WordPress blog.

YouTube Video

YouTube is the most popular video-sharing platform so at some point you will probably want to embed a video from there in your blog. It could be a third-party video you are referencing or maybe even a companion video you’ve made for a post.

In the case of the latter, embedding your video from YouTube rather than uploading the video file directly to WordPress offers you the advantage of increasing views on YouTube which could help with the performance of your video on the social media site. Plus locally hosting videos on with WordPress can take up a lot of the server space allocated for your blog.

To get started you should search for “YouTube” in the content blocks and add the corresponding block to your post or page, as seen below.

Youtube video block for WordPress. YouTube logo with red play button sits next to YouTube url heading above field to place a video URL in. An embed blue button sits beside it.
WordPress YouTube video embed content block

To embed your video, you just need to enter its URL into the block and click embed and your video will appear just as the video below does.

The process is the same if you’re using a video from Vimeo, Dailymotion, TikTok, Hulu, or VideoPress. Unfortunately, if you want to embed a video from a source not listed here you may run into trouble if it only offers an iFrame as the means of embedding. WordPress.com no longer allows embedding with iFrames. Instead, you must use a plugin to add them, which may or may not be an option depending on the subscription plan you have.

Image Gallery

People love visuals and sometimes the more you provide the more engaging your posts will be. In certain situations, an image gallery may be the best way to go. Adding an image gallery to your blog is pretty straightforward. Simply, search the content blocks for the “Gallery” option and select it to place it on your page or post, as seen below.

Gallery content block with a heading that reads Gallery and a blue button to upload images and blue text to select images
WordPress Image Gallery content block

Then you can either upload your images or choose them from your media library. Once your images are placed, you can select each individual image to change its order in the gallery and give it a caption. In the block’s settings in the right-side panel, you can adjust the images’ size or the number of columns in your gallery.

I’ve simply created a 2-column gallery with 4 photos from my recent posts below. If you click on any photo in my gallery you will see that it opens the photo full screen and allows you to click through all the photos in this view. This makes a gallery a great option if you have detailed images or high-quality photography you want to offer users a closer look at.

Social Icons

Social media is a powerful tool and when integrated with your blog it can drive higher engagement for your content. There are 2 ways you can add social icons to your blog. The first way is to add icons for accounts associated with your blog to your header, footer, or sidebar (if your blog features one).

This is traditionally where you would expect links to social media accounts to appear on any website so doing so meets the mental models of your users. This way they can check out your social media, maybe follow you, and in doing so are likelier to find out about a new post that intrigues them enough to return to your blog.

Screenshot of the admin menu in WordPress Blog with Appearance and Widget menu items highlighted. Social Icons widget is selected.
How to add Social Icons site wide with a widget

To add social icons to your overall blog just choose Appearance>Widgets in the left menu of your WP Admin, as seen above. Then select “Social Icons” from the widget options and choose the location you want them in. To the right of the widget list, you then select the location you placed the “Social Icons” widget in and you will find options for connecting your account URLs and sizing and labeling your icons.

Screenshot of the Widget editing screen in WordPress admin
How to edit Social Icons widget

The second way to add social icons to your blog is by adding them to individual pages or posts. You might be interested in doing this if you’re wanting to link out to a special account – for example, an account you’re referencing in your writing or the accounts of a guest blogger – or if you’re wanting to highlight or promote your accounts more directly than through your header or footer.

Screenshot of Social Icons content block with line of social media icons: WordPress W icon in blue, Facebook F icon in blue, Twitter bird icon in blue, Instagram camera icon in pink, LinkedIn in icon in blue, YouTube play button icon in red.
How to add social icons to a post or page with the Social Icons content block

The process to do this is very similar to the one described for YouTube videos and image galleries. Just search the content blocks for “Social Icons” and add the corresponding block, as seen above. It automatically displays the most popular social media platforms upon adding so if these aew what you need you can just select an icon and enter the URL for the account you want to link.

But if you select the plus sign within this block it will display a menu of a couple of dozen options for different social media channels in case you’re looking for something else. Once you’re finished linking, you can choose the icons’ style in the block setting menu on the right hand side of the screen and choose to align them left, center, or right in the editing menu at the top of the screen.

In the end, you’ll have something that looks like this. Here I’ve added links to all of WordPress.com’s social media channels (in case you’re interested in community and support for WordPress users), aligned the icons center, and chose the default logo style.

Twitter Feed

Perhaps, though, you are interested in adding actual social media content to your blog, either a single post or a feed. Well, just like social icons there are 2 ways you can do this as well.

Adding a social media feed to the header, footer, or sidebar across your blog can be beneficial because you can intrigue your users with your latest posts to go and follow you. Using the example of an interactive Twitter Feed, you can navigate to Appearance>Widgets once again and choose the “Twitter Timeline” widget. This allows you to add any public Twitter feed to your blog.

Screenshot of the admin menu in WordPress Blog with Appearance and Widget menu items highlighted. Twitter Timeline widget is selected.
How to add a Twitter feed site wide with a widget

You can then select the placement for the widget and to right of the widget menu choose that placement to enter information for the Twitter feed you want and style the appearance of this widget.

Screenshot of the Widget editing screen in WordPress admin
How to edit Twitter Timeline widget

Adding social media content to an individual post or page can be a beneficial visual to support written content – maybe as an example of your work or thought leadership or an example of the topic you’re writing on. To add a Twitter feed to a post or page all you need to do is search for the “Twitter” content block and add it.

Twitter video block for WordPress. Twitter logo with blue sits next to Twitter url heading above field to place a Tweet or Twitter account URL in. An embed blue button sits beside it.
How to add a Twitter feed to a post or page with the Twitter content block

This block actually has multiple functions. If you add only the URL for an individual tweet, only that will appear. However, to get an interactive Twitter feed you need to add the URL of an account. This will display a scrollable window of tweets starting with the most recent, as seen below with this Twitter feed of WordPress.com’s latest tweets.

Explore Your Options

These are just 4 options for adding media and functionality to your blog. WordPress offers a fairly large menu of pre-built options you should check out, and with plug-ins the options can become almost limitless.

It can be easy to get in the bad habit of just using the basic paragraph, header, and image blocks when building your blog, but depending on the topic or content you’re working with there may be a better, more interesting way to build. You may be missing out on a really cool and easy way to enhance your blog simply by not being familiar with the lesser-used options for adding media and functionality.

So, start researching and playing around with the different content blocks and plug-ins WordPress has to offer to take your blog to the next level.


References

Editorial Staff. (2019, December 17). 25 most useful WordPress widgets for your site. WPBeginner. Retrieved from https://www.wpbeginner.com/showcase/25-most-useful-wordpress-widgets-for-your-site/

Editorial Staff. (2020, January 2). How to create and image gallery in WordPress (step by step) WPBeginner. Retrieved from https://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/how-to-create-an-image-gallery-in-wordpress/

Editorial Staff. (2019, August 10). How to display recent tweets inWordPress with Twitter widgets. WPBeginner. Retrieved from https://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-display-recent-tweets-in-wordpress-with-twitter-widgets/

Editorial Staff. (2019, March 8) How to easily embed videos in WordPress blog posts. WPBeginner. Retrieved from https://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/how-to-easily-embed-videos-in-wordpress-blog-posts/

Social icons widget. Jetpack. Retrieved from https://jetpack.com/support/extra-sidebar-widgets/social-icons-widget/

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