5 plugins that have improved reader interaction on my blog

Nikki ParkinsonLife 52 Comments

The wonderful thing about having a blog is that you can play with all the bits in its backend (*giggle*). That may not excite all blog owners out there but for me all this playing just hits my … umm … G-spot.

No, not that one, people. My Geek-spot.

Stainless steel laser-cut Geek necklace $60.08. www.morphologicadesign.com/

I think this Morphologica Design necklace is so me, don

For someone who is so *mature* that I didn’t so much as see a computer screen until my senior year of high school, I’ve somehow developed a brain that is wired to understand the (il)logical workings of all things techie.

Translating that techie obsession to my WordPress blog is all about me searching for and trying out new plugins. And by searching and trying, I mean obsessing.

For the uninitiated, plugins are for your blog like apps are for your smartphone. They can enhance your blog and add to your readers’ experience of your blog.

Now, you know I’m pro-WordPress? Well, that doesn’t mean I’m anti-Blogger. Some of my favourite bloggers blog on Blogger. And they’ve even let me play around their backends too! On Blogger blogs, you may have the equivalent plug-in functionality as a gadget or you may need to load the specific HTML code in your blog’s design. If in doubt, Google it. If really in doubt, contact and engage an expert.

Here is what have I added to my blog this month to enhance the opportunities for reader interaction on my blog:

1. Pinterest. I’m a visual person and I’ve latched on to Pinterest like a mad-woman possessed. No beautiful photo is left un-pinned. Pinterest is also a social media network, so adding a Pinterest button to my blog is now as valid as my other social buttons. Bree, The Blog Stylist, has written a detailed post about what Pinterest is, how you can use it and how to add it to your blog. To date, a WordPress plug-in hasn’t been developed to make adding the Pin it button to your site automatic but you can add it manually (same on Blogger). I’m doing it on posts where I’ve created graphics I think others may be interested in pinning, like the Wear Red for Daniel mosaic I created this week.

My pinterest boards

My Pinterest boards

2. Instagram. Are you getting that I’m into images? I’ve blogged about Instagram before but now I’ve taken it one step further, really utilising it as a visual, micro-blogging platform. I’ve done this by first adding the Instapress WordPress plug-in so you’ll always see the four latest Instagram photos I’ve taken, providing an ever-changing snapshot of my life as a fashion and beauty blogger and a mum. You can choose the size of the images and how many you want to show up on your blog, adding another dimension to what your readers find when they land on your site. On Blogger, use BadgePlz to achieve something similar.

I’ve also got myself an Instagram vanity URL and a Follow button for my site from Followgram, making it easier for other Instagram users to see I’m on there and follow me. This can also be done for Blogger blogs.

The Instapress plugin allows me to

The Instapress plugin allows me to

3. nrelate. Are you using a plug-in or gadget at the bottom of your blog posts to give your readers suggestions on previous blog posts they might be interested in reading? Have you noticed that sometimes often the posts suggested are in no way related to the one on that page? Yep, me too. Then I came across nrelate. And yes, it’s available for WordPress, Blogger and even Tumblr platforms. You can modify the way you want the related content buttons to look and it actually does find … well … related content. Win.

The nrelate plugin actually includes posts that are related to the post.

The nrelate plugin actually includes posts that are related to the post

4. Reply Me. I have a thing about blog comments: just like Twitter and Facebook mentions I’ll always reply. Yes, this takes some time but the WordPress app on my phone does make that a little easier when I’m out and about during the day. And I believe that if someone is taking the time to *talk* to me on my blog then I should talk back. Some of the WordPress blogs I follow have this plug-in so that the person leaving a comment gets an email when the blogger has replied to that comment on the blog. I like this. I may not have subscribed to the comment feed on a post but it’s nice to know that the blogger has replied to me. So, yes, that’s why you’re now receiving an email from me if you leave a comment. If your blog has the Discus comment system, then your commenters can also receive emails from you.

reply me plugin

The Reply Me plugin sends an email to a commenter when you comment back on the blog to them

5. Digg Digg. I owe this one to the genius of a girl, Bree The Blog Stylist, mentioned above. I was a little bit envious of her neat social media share buttons on her blog posts so I just came out and asked her straight what she used to get them. So, she shared. She’s good like that. You can choose which ones you want to include, where you want to postion them and how you want them to look. I’ve added the +1 and StumbleUpon as well as Facebook and Twitter button. The result: interaction via these channels has skyrocketed. It’s not perfect – the StumbleUpon button only appears on my home page not on the posts (I’m sure their tech support will get back to me soon on that one 😉 ) – but it does make it easier for a reader to share your post. For blogger blogs, you can load individual share buttons via editing your template or use the standard share buttons that can be activated from the dashboard.

digg digg

The Digg Digg share buttons on this important post made it easy for people to share

Whatever platform you’re on, share buttons are a must. It’s frustrating reading a great blog post and then not being able to share it easily. Always make things easy for your readers. They’re more likely to share, comment and importantly, come back!

There you have it, my inner blogging geek download for the week. Do you use any of the above blog add-ons? What have you learned about or added to your blog this week that’s made you feel a little bit geeky?

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Comments 52

  1. Thanks so much for all the fine advice you’ve posted here over the years Nikki. Although I’ve been blogging for a while, I’m starting a new one for a new business and your blog has re-inspired me, cheers, Sonya

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  2. Another great post! I’m off to check out Instapress. I already use Replyme and love that I can answer “in public” on my blog but the original commenter gets an email.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your tips, BTW I loved your Pinterest board and after recently discovering blogs in the past month my inner Geek Flag is flying and I’m looking to start a blog myself.

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  4. Thanks for the list! I have the replyme pluging and also think it’s important that a blogger replies to a comment. I have downloaded nrelate as recommended by you. Waiting for it to be activated within the next 2 hours. I wanna get the instagram too but the picture quality from my iPhone 3GS is not as good. Still waiting for the launch of iPhone 5!

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      1. Hey Nikki! I downloaded the plugin in wordpress but I can’t seem to fit them in one line, like yours.

        I use the Normal Config. I selected left-float for facebook like (IFrame) and if I select left-float for Twitter also, the first image of each post goes crazy and floats out of the original position (like somewhere to the side bar). I have to select before_content for Twitter. This way the first image doesnt float to the sidebar, but now the share buttons are not in the same line.

        Can you please help? Here’s my website: http://bunbunmakeuptips.com.

        Thanks so much!

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  5. Thanks for this post Nikki – and thanks for the heads up on the instagram vanity url u gave me last week! I always wonder what plugins my favourite sites are using…so thanks for sharing!! And like you, I loooooooooove Pinterest + now i’ve just discovered Instagram!! Gotta love the visual playgrounds xxx

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  6. Ooooh I love a good plugin… and a play around behind the scenes of my blog (or any one else who is silly enough to let me in to play with theirs!).

    Thanks for this great list…. I’ve only just taken the plunge with instagram and I think that little plugin might just have me well and truly hooked.
    And oh pinterest… how I love thee…. definitely need to remember to add that pin button to some posts… so wish the social media plugins like Digg Digg would hurry up and add pinterest to their list of options!

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  7. Thanks Nikki, I have been wanting a comment reply plugin for ages but didn’t know where to start looking. I wondered if people actually came back to see if I had replied. I know I tend to forget who I commented on and if I get an email with a reply I go back to the blog and read the rest of the comments. thanks so much x

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  8. All the social media share buttons seem to be flawed in one way or another. Plus they don’t give a true indication of the number of RTs either. But at least they should let your readers share you stuff easily, I guess that’s the most important thing.

    Just watched you on the TV again! Loved that…. again;)

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  9. Thanks Nikki. I SO need help in this department. But thanks to you and Bree I’m muddling through … albeit slowly. Don’t know what I’d do without these types of posts.

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  10. Thanks for those tips. ReplyMe … I’m going to give that a try on the other blog. Have tried others plugins and they simply have not worked. No email out. Grumble. I’d also like to get the Twitter comments that mention the blog owner on the sidebar somehow. Have had trouble there too. Any suggestions?

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