Social media addict or social media newbie? Either way, we've got four must-have Firefox extensions that will make using popular social media sites much easier and more seamless within the world's most popular open source browser.
Hardcore social media addicts might jump ship for Flock, but if you want the most current Firefox features, it’s better to tack on extensiony goodness to Firefox. Here we’ll look at four of the best extensions I’ve found so far for social media within Firefox.
I won’t say Yoono is the best of the lot, but it’s the most full-featured. If you want an all-in-one, Swiss Army knife of social media goodness, the first stop on the extension train is the Yoono extension. It adds features for Twitter, Facebook, RSS readers, Google Talk, AIM, FriendFeed, Imeem, and others. One install and you’ve got a ton of social media fun at your fingertips.
I’ve tried Yoono with Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and Last.fm widgets. It’s very easy to use, though it’s a bit non-intuitive to find the “Add/Remove Widgets” feature (look for the arrow in the active widget on the very left-hand side), but other than that, Yoono is pretty easy to use and manage. It has a tiny spot for ads at the bottom of the widget, though for some reason I didn’t actually see any ads — even though I am not using AdBlock.
It has a few quirks. Apparently Facebook requires about 50 different “allows” so that Yoono can update various and sundry bits of Facebook. Once you get all of that accomplished, though, it works seamlessly. You’ll probably want to spend some time adjusting the defaults — like making sure Last.fm doesn’t start up with sound immediately when you start Firefox. And, finally, Firefox seemed a bit slower with Yoono enabled, but not so much that it was unusable.
I love that I can just click the Mail widget and send a quick email without loading the entire GMail interface. Especially if I’m responding or writing about something that’s on a Web page and I don’t want to hop back and forth between browser windows.
Yoono also makes sharing Web pages easy via Twitter and Facebook. Just click Share on the sidebar and you’re ready to rumble.
If you’re not heavily into a bunch of social media, but love Twitter, you’ll want to check Power Twitter. Twitter’s Web interface really only exposes about half of the features that you’d really want. For example, being able to easily re-Tweet (RT) from the Web interface (instead of copy and pasting) and seeing what those tiny URLs are pointing to.
Basically, Power Twitter adds several features — URL shortening, photo posting, re-Tweeting, and so forth, to the Web-based Twitter interface. It’s a must-have if you use Twitter more than a few times a day.
I also like Power Twitter’s “top friends” feature, at least when it works. By adding someone as a “top friend” you can see only your selected friends’ updates. However, the last time I tinkered with this feature (using latest Firefox and Power Twitter updates) it only showed me my own updates. One hopes this will be fixed shortly.
I like Facebook, but I know a lot of people who love Facebook. Which means if I want to communicate with them regularly, I have to use Facebook too. To make that a bit easier, I added the Facebook Toolbar to Firefox — so I don’t have to spend quite so much time on Facebook itself.
The Facebook Toolbar lets you do some of what you’d do on Facebook right from the browser toolbar: Search the site, set status updates, share links, upload photos, and view your friends’ updates directly from the Facebook sidebar.
It also shows when you have new invitations and messages, and takes you to the Facebook site to handle those.
For heavy Facebook users, this toolbar is a must-have. It’s more full-featured than Yoono and doesn’t make Firefox sluggish (at least in my experience).
Compared to other social media, social bookmarks don’t seem quite as fancy as they did back in the day. The first social networking site I started using regularly is Delicious (formerly del.icio.us). Its acquisition by Yahoo! hasn’t really propelled the site beyond its original audience — which is a shame — but I still find the site amazingly useful.
The Delicious Bookmarks extension integrates your Delicious bookmarks into Firefox so that they’re nearly seamless with Firefox. In fact, you can pretty much hide the regular Firefox bookmark toolbar and just switch to Delicious entirely. Note that it’s possible to have private bookmarks with Delicious, so you don’t have to share all of your bookmarks with the world. Which is good if you’re working on test sites or other work projects that you’d like to bookmark without informing the world.
What I really like about Delicious is the ability to share my bookmarks between browsers — so I have the same bookmarks between my laptop, workstation, and so forth. This is something you can also achieve with Xmarks, but you don’t get the same social (sharing) features you find with Delicious Bookmarks.
Even though there’s a bit too much hype around social media these days, the tools themselves are actually pretty useful if you integrate them properly into your day. And ignore the gazillion quizzes on Facebook… It’s sites and tools like these that expose the real power of the Web.
Those are my favorites. How about yours?
Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier
is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years covering IT. Formerly the openSUSE Community Manager for Novell, Brockmeier has written for Linux Magazine, Sys Admin, Linux Pro Magazine, IBM developerWorks, Linux.com, CIO.com, Linux Weekly News, ZDNet, and many other publications. You can reach Zonker at
email@example.com and follow him on Twitter