Move over, RockMelt. You don't need a dedicated social networking browser to stay überconnected. We look at 10 Firefox add-ons - all compatible with the latest version of Firefox - that will turn your browser into a social butterfly.
The world's largest social network wouldn't be complete without a direct-access toolbar. The Facebook Toolbar Firefox add-on features a Facebook search bar, a Quick Links menu (for directly accessing your Profile, Friends, Inbox, Photos, Notes, and the like), a link to Facebook's home page, a Share button, and a photo-upload button. The toolbar also notifies you of new pokes, messages, friend requests, and wall posts.
On the far left side of the Facebook Toolbar is a button for toggling the "Friends Sidebar" on and off. This sidebar shows a running list of your pals' latest status updates, so you can keep up-to-date as you browse other parts of the web.
Sometimes you just want to know what's going on with a particular person, or a particular hashtag, on Twitter. The Twitter Search Firefox add-on is a useful - yet practically invisible - tool for doing just that. Twitter Search lets you easily look up Twitter users and hashtags.
To use Twitter Search, simply go up to your browser's address bar and type a Twitter username (complete with the @) or hashtag (with the #), and press Enter. Twitter Search will take you directly to that page.
Maybe you want to update your Twitter account, not just search for other people. In this case, the HootBar Firefox add-on is a convenient tool for tweeting via your browser's address bar.
HootBar adds two buttons to your browser: a little Twitter bird in the address bar, and a Hootlet button between the address bar and the search bar. To update your Twitter account, you just type your tweet into the address bar and click the Twitter bird button; the Hootlet button gives you more options. You can use multiple accounts with HootBar, schedule messages, and track stats. You will need a HootSuite account.
Google's up-and-coming social network doesn't yet have a dedicated Firefox toolbar, but the Google+ Manager Firefox add-on does bring some useful things to the table. The Google+ Manager adds a small button to Google pages. Clicking on that button produces a drop-down menu of links. You can then go directly to your Google+ profile, photos, albums, Circles, settings, and more; you can even shorten a URL.
Although Google+ Manager offers a lot of options for navigating directly to your Google+ account, remember that it works only on Google web pages.
A dedicated LinkedIn toolbar can be useful if you're either looking for a job or seeking someone to hire. The LinkedIn Companion Firefox add-on adds a simple toolbar to your browser with two buttons: a 'Share on LinkedIn' button, and a regular LinkedIn button.
Clicking the latter yields a drop-down menu of options for connecting with the business-oriented social network. From that menu you can see your recent LinkedIn profiles and searches, find people or jobs, add contacts, and check out LinkedIn JobsInsider - basically, just about everything you'd normally do on LinkedIn. LinkedIn JobsInsider is a sidebar that shows your "inside connections" as you browse jobs (in other words, it shows whether you know a person who knows a person).
The Yoono Firefox add-on is a great tool for managing multiple social networks. Yoono adds a (hideable) sidebar to your browser, and it can multitask: it consolidates your various social networks' status updates into one stream, lets you update your status across all of your social networks at once, and even supports some chat applications.
Yoono currently supports AIM, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, FriendFeed, Google Talk, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Yahoo Messenger, and YouTube.
If you don't feel like installing a dedicated social networking toolbar such as Facebook's, but you still want to be able to share links with your assorted social networks, Shareaholic might be for you. The Shareaholic Firefox add-on adds a small, unassuming Shareaholic button in the top-left corner of your browser, beside the back/forward buttons.
When you find an amazing page that you want to share, simply click the Shareaholic button to see a drop-down menu. Select the service you want to use (default services on the list include Amazon Wishlist, Bit.ly, Delicious, Digg, Evernote, Facebook, Google Buzz, LinkedIn, and Twitter), and share away.
Lengthy links are annoying - especially if you're trying to share something within the strict 140-character constraints of Twitter. The TinyURL Generator Firefox add-on makes creating short links a breeze. This add-on adds a small link button to the lower-right corner of your browser.
To generate a TinyURL, go to the page you want to link to, and then click the link button. A TinyURL will automatically generate and copy to the Clipboard, and then you can paste it anywhere - on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, the Excel sheet you're working on, you name it.
StumbleUpon is both a social network and an excellent way to find fodder to share with your other social networks. Unfamiliar with the service? It takes you to a "random" web page (though "random" actually means customised according to your preferred categories) when you click a button. You can then tell StumbleUpon whether you "like" or "dislike" the page, and StumbleUpon's algorithm learns what types of "random" pages to show you, based on those preferences.
The StumbleUpon Firefox add-on not only lets you "stumble" and rate pages, but also gives you buttons for sharing pages with social networks (Facebook, Twitter) and by email, as well as buttons for interacting with the StumbleUpon community. In other words, this toolbar is perfect for content junkies who need fresh material.
Pearltrees is a different way to share content on the Web. It's a social network and sharing system in and of itself, though it also connects to Facebook and Twitter. Pearltrees lets you "curate" trees or webs of pearls. Those trees are dynamic connections, and you can add, remove, and reconnect pearls (links you find on the Web). Pearltrees are particularly cool as you curate more and more, because you end up with a web of intuitive connections.
The Pearltrees Firefox add-on makes curating Pearltrees a cinch. The add-on inserts three buttons to the left of your browser's address bar: a pearl button that lets you add the page you're browsing to your current tree; a button for choosing where to put your pearl; and a home button that takes you to your Pearltree account.
See? Social networking doesn't have to be a time-consuming chore. With these add-ons, keeping current on all the latest news should be a snap.