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10 Top Plugins to Improve Reader Interaction

Posted on by in Plugins

Time and time again, we are reminded that without loyal readers, blogs are rarely successful. Corporate sponsors who seek out bloggers to pitch ideas and projects to consistently mention the importance of comments, retweets and conversation in blog posts. The idea is simple: bloggers who communicate and respect their readers achieve loyalty, and loyalty is the most important aspect of becoming a successful blogger.

While you should always strive to have content that attracts comments organically, it never hurts to add some extra functionality to your blog that will help readers feel even more comfortable and enthusiastic about starting or joining a conversation.

Here are 10 plugins that will encourage interaction between you and your readers without compromising the design, or feel of your blog, while minimizing your effort output.

CommentLuv

CommentLuv was also mentioned in the “Must Have” list for free plugins because of its immense effect on commenting. Since I installed this plugin on my own blogs, I have noticed a noticeably higher volume of comments. By parsing the reader’s RSS feed from the website they entered, CommentLuv allows their latest blog post to be displayed and linked from inside their comment. This offers a mutual benefit – you get to build a relationship with your readers, and they get some recognition by commenting. Win-win.

Comment Relish

I often forget that I have this plugin installed because it literally takes 3 minutes to set up, then you never have to think of it again. Comment Relish sends an email to your readers the first time they comment by grabbing the email they entered. You can customize the message to tell your readers about upcoming events, remind them to subscribe to your RSS feed, or just say “Thank you!” It’s a small gesture, but I’ve received many responses to the email (they go to your admin email address) which has started up valuable conversations between me and my readers.

WP Follow Me

If you look to the right of this page, you’ll see a cute, little tab that reads “Follow Me.” This unobtrusive, ever-present, flash-based tab allows your readers to instantly connect with you on Twitter. I have met tons of my readers through Twitter – even some great feedback and post content fodder. Your readers are smart! Let them talk to you. WP Follow Me is another simple plugin that gives a ton of functionality without requiring too much space or effort.

Increase Sociability

It’s be nice if we could acknowledge our readers as soon as they arrive at our blogs – welcoming them, giving them any necessary information (RSS feed info, e-Books, etc.). Well, you’re in luck. Increase Sociability tracks where your new visitors come from – be it StumbleUpon (“Don’t forget to give me a thumb up if you like what you read!”) or Digg – and thanks them for the visit. You can add custom text as you see fit.

WordPress Threaded Comments

This is a pretty straight-forward, self-explanatory plugin. I can not stress enough the effect that threaded comments have on developing discussions in blog posts. Allowing your readers to respond to each other gives them a sense of importance (which they definitely deserve), and allows you to communicate directly with your readers in an organized, easy-to-understand manner. If your WordPress theme doesn’t already have threaded comments built in, you need this plugin.

WP Post Ratings

If you think about your blog, or your writing in general, are there any particular posts that come to your mind? Consider it in terms of an elevator pitch – if you had thirty seconds to select one blog post from your website to show to an potential reader or advertiser, would you know which to pick? Do you think that your preferences align with your readers? Installing Post Ratings on your blog allows your readers to rate your posts, therefore allowing you to see exactly what type of content your readers want to see. Catering to your readers’ preferences is the ultimate way to ensure your success.

Comment Ratings

In the same vein as post rating, allowing your commenters to upvote or rate the comments on your blog. This keeps you from having to moderate comments, and gives your readers an interactive opportunity to actually improve your blog. Comments that are down-voted several times become hidden, while up-voted comments are highlighted for easy reading. You can also customize the comment thresholds to fit your needs.

Show Top Commentators

If you follow some larger blogs with regular readers, you’ve probably noticed that the same people comment over and over – the pinnacle of blog loyalty. Why not show off your stats with a Top Commentators widget, displaying the names of those who comment on your blog the most frequently. This not only encourages new readers to comment, but shows visitors that you have a loyal following.

Subscribe to Comments

I was doubtful when I first heard that you could subscribe to comments. With all the sub-par comments left on blogs, including spam and useless “visit my site!” comments, I had no idea why I’d want to subscribe. Then, I came across an article I was really interested in, left a lengthy comment, and realized that – yes, I did want to see what others had to say about it. Not only that, I wanted to garner conversation with others, and really discuss the topic at hand. Subscribe to Comments gives your readers the ability to keep up on the discussion from the convenience of their RSS reader.

Better Comments Manager

This is a fantastic plugin that allows you to respond to your reader’s comments right from the WordPress Dashboard. From the Better Comments Manager tab, you can view all comments organized by post, chronologically, or the favorite “View All” which allows you to reply immediately (without redirecting to the post). You can mass edit your comments to take charge of spam comments that Akismet doesn’t catch (far and few between, but still there!). This tool might seem simple, but it will absolutely make conversing with your readers infinitely easier.

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Comments (22)

Comment by Warren says:

Some really great tips for plugins. Thanks for sharing

Comment by Martin Hillary says:

Some great plugins on here and I’ve stumbled across this list by pure accident. I will be giving some of these a go on my own blog.
In my opinion the more sharing of content the better. How else can you get yourself noticed? Just what I’ve been looking for. Thank you!

Comment by Wayne Lambert says:

In my experience, the less social media options to share your content, the better!

Too many sharing options only confuses readers and your content doesn’t get shared at all.

Better comments manager might sound good but possibly not good if you manage a blog with CommentLuv. In this instance, it is better to visit the actual post and leave your replies there. This is because you can achieve some internal linking naturally because the CommentLuv link will be created when you reply.

Interaction and link building all at once. Voila!

I would be interested to know if there is a tidy little plugin that could take you straight to the page/post where the comment was written, so you can reply directly on the page/post instead of using the WordPress dashboard.

Do you know of such a plugin?

Thanks,

Wayne

Comment by ika says:

hi, i’d like to know which plugin you are using for your social buttons on the right side of your website

thanks in advance

Comment by Steve Roy says:

A good list I must say. Engaging with your readers is vital to success and if we can get help doing that via plugins, that’s all the better.

Comment by Shane S says:

I tried to install this plugin, but it just has Twitter. I see on this site they also show RSS and Facebook right below it. Is there a plugin for this too?

Comment by Brett Widmann says:

These look like great plugins. I’ll be trying some out! Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Chris C says:

Fantastic list of plug ins, have already started using several of these on my new blog. thank you for compiling and sharing this list. Chris

Comment by Career Outlook says:

great list, I found many new plugins and I think comment love is a great plugin to get build the initial readership of your blog.

Comment by iphi says:

hello! how did you put the “facebook” and “rss” image below the twitter image at the “wp follow me”??
thanks! great site :)

Comment by edmund says:

I will share this with my readers. Once again, thank you for your valuable suggestions and advice. Keep up the good work!

Comment by Kate says:

Just finished installing a few of these and they didn’t crash my theme! Looking forward to seeing the results. Thank you.

Comment by Mercedus says:

This was really great information. I’m just starting a blog on this platform and this advice was right on time. Great work.

Comment by Alex says:

I like the “you’re new here, do you want to subscribe to rss feed” thing that comes up on this page… what plugin is that?

Comment by RJ Johnson says:

Great article. I have installed several of the plugins mentioned. I couldn’t find Comment Relish when I searched in WP and then read some articles on why you may not want to use it. I does sound cool though. Is there something else like it?
Thanks again,
RJ

Comment by Rena says:

Great list! I’ve been looking for some plugins for commenting-My blog is still young, and I’m just starting to get a regular stream of commenters. I’m hoping some of these will help encourage more of them. Thanks!

Comment by Rob says:

Some good tips here, maybe in a future bloggery highlight some other wp threaded comments options. It’s cool but I’ve seen better out there. I do like comment relish though, I’m relishing in it. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

Comment by webwhiz says:

Some of here I already use for my blog. some are new. thanks for it.

Comment by Jordan Walker says:

Those are some excellent plugins for WP. Well said.

Comment by zauberer says:

Hi, thanks for this list, i heard of some of this on other sites and i think they are very helpfull.
I have one more “comment count admin” that helps me to see how many comments a person wrote or is he new to my blog, maybe helpfull for some of you out there :)

here is the link for this plugin: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/comment-count-admin/

V.

Comment by Brian says:

I use several of these Plugins and they seem to have been reasonably successful although I typically don’t get a lot of comments. The WP follow me has been probably been the most successful and I have noticed my Twitter following gradually creeping up.

Comment by Sheri Fresonke Harper says:

Thanks for the helpful suggestions :)

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