7 Best WordPress Plugins for Passive Promotion

WordPress Plugins

I’m convinced that WordPress is the most powerful and easily implemented website platform for musicians. Most of my social networking efforts are aimed at directing traffic to my band site, which serves as my base of operations. Countless free plugins allow me to add new features and customize to my heart’s content.

I recently overhauled both of my WordPress sites (colortheory.com and passivepromotion.com are functionally identical), exploring all the popular plugins from each category. Despite my best efforts to keep things lean and mean, I ended up installing 23. All are free, as is WordPress. The only thing I’ve paid for is the Thesis theme, which handles the look and feel of the site, search engine optimization, and other behind-the-scenes details I don’t care to figure out on my own.

I don’t have time to babysit my sites every day, so I’m always on the lookout for new ways to “set it and forget it.” Here are my seven best WordPress plugins for passive promotion:

Thank Me Later

Ever read an article, made a quick comment, and never visited the site again? Thank Me Later automatically sends out an email to anyone who leaves a comment on your site, after a pre-defined amount of time. I use it to suggest subscription options, remind the commenter to check back for replies, and invite him or her to connect with me personally.

Digg Digg

In my opinion, only two share options matter anymore: Facebook and Twitter. Both offer official buttons, and I suggest using them rather than third party alternatives, because they are both recognizable and trustworthy. It’s possible to insert the proper code directly into your site’s theme, but Digg Digg takes all of two minutes to set up and offers a high degree of customization.

WPtouch iPhone Theme

This one is almost too good to be true. Install it and poof! Your site has a mobile theme. It automatically kicks in when someone accesses the site from their iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Opera Mini, Palm Pre, Samsung Touch or BlackBerry Storm/Torch. Definitely a must have!

Disqus Comment System

The comment system built into WordPress does the job, but Disqus (and its chief competitor, IntenseDebate) steps it up a notch. It offers threaded comments and replies, subscribe and RSS options, reply by email, built-in spam protection, and some fancy widgets. More importantly, it connects you to the same large discussion community that you see on big name sites like Mashable.

WordPress Popular Posts

This plugin showcases the most popular posts on your site in the sidebar, based on criteria you select. So far it’s done a good job of featuring my best content. Still, I wonder if it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy machine, making the posts it highlights even more popular than they deserve.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

If WPP doesn’t do the trick, here’s a second method to get visitors to click through to another post. YARPP automatically compiles a list of related posts, and appends it to the end of the article. You can restrict results by category or tag, and select how much weight to give the post title versus body. I’ve read that it can slow sites down, but a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache more than makes up for it.

Smart 404

Losing visitors from a mistyped URL is a thing of the past with Smart 404. It searches for a matching page and redirects to it automatically. If it doesn’t find a match, it can display a list of suggestions on your 404 page.

For completeness’ sake, here are the rest of the plugins I use:

Align RSS Images
Audio Player
Broken Link Checker
Contact Form 7
FD Feedburner Plugin
Clean Options
Google XML Sitemaps
Lightbox 2
No Self Pings
Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu
RSS Footer
Smart YouTube
Thesis OpenHook
W3 Total Cache
WordPress.com Stats
WP-DB Manager

Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

48 thoughts on “7 Best WordPress Plugins for Passive Promotion”

  1. Yes Digg Digg is good and Twitter and Facebook are the two social giants at the moment, but it doesn’t mean that others dont work.

    An example of this is Stumbleupon, i recently have had more than 35% of my sites visits from this service, all because one person who is ‘highly regarded’ on the service stumbled one of my articles.

    But great advice, i did a post on Musician WordPress Plugins a couple of weeks ago.

    1. Great post Martin!

      I’ve gotten decent traffic from StumbleUpon as well, but never from someone using the share buttons on my site. I used to use the ShareThis plugin (which you mention in your article), but I think it’s too confusing for many readers. I’d rather keep my site clean and simple with just Facebook and Twitter, knowing that more web-savvy readers can copy and paste the link into the service of their choice. Using the official buttons creates a much clearer call to action IMHO.

  2. That Thank Me Later one sounds pretty awesome. I’ve got our site up on Blogger right now, which does a good amount of this stuff (via add-ins as well), but I’ve been looking at switching over to WordPress so everything is fully under my control.

  3. I’d like to share my experience a bit:

    1. I don’t like IntenseDebate of Discuss Comment because the comments my readers leave are most valuable content for me and because they serve comment text through JavaScript, it is completely invisible to search engines. In fact addition of comments adds value to page and the page is updated. Search Engines likes the updates. But what’s the use of Search Engines can’t see any of those comments?

    2. I liked the concept of Smart 404. Thank you for suggesting and I’m going to install it soon in my blog too!

    3. Instead of WordPress Related Posts and YARPP plugins I’d like to suggest Popular, Related and Recent posts plugins by Rob Marsh, SJ. These plugins are great flexible and you can customize its look and feel. They are really lovely!

    Thanks for this nice post and I hope you’ll communicate your likes and dislikes on the plugins I’ve shared here!

    1. Great to hear from you Suresh! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.To test your search engine theory, I just Googled a string of text from my previous comment above. It came right up! If I were to turn off the Disqus plugin right now, all these comments would still be here. They still get added to the database.As for the Rob Marsh plugin set, I see no reason to switch based on my minimal research. His Popular Posts plugin hasn’t been updated from the first version and has only been tested up to WordPress 2.6.2. It requires installation of an additional library as well. WPP offers all the functionality I need, for the time being at least.

      1. Oh yes, Google has indexed and returns the result when searching through comment text. This is fantastic – don’t know if you are running discus in addition to your blog comment or discus did some magic! I guess you’re using discuss as suplimentary to wordpress native comment system. I mean the comments are stored in your database too!

        Still I don’t prefer the javascript based comment systems. If I were to leave a nice comment and expect a quality link back to me, javascript based system will be the cause of suspect. I guess many others too think in similar way. (But your’s is verified now, no worry for me, but I won’t check every time I see a new blog :D)

        I shared Rob Marsh’s plugins because I’m using them with my latest wordpress version and am greatly impressed. Installing and configuring is a one time job and you can compose your recent, related and popular posts like any other regular post. Whether to include or not, the order of items like post name, number of comments, post excerept etc and every other html element. That great flexibility can nowhere be achieved, I guess!

        1. I’m not doing anything special with Disqus. It automatically syncs with your WordPress database, so I don’t see any disadvantage in that department.

          Remember that thanks to Disqus, anyone can click on your avatar and read your comments on other blogs! I can see that you are very knowledgeable in WordPress and contribute regularly to blogs on the topic, and that people find your comments helpful. Good to know, don’t you think? :)

          WPP and YARPP have similar flexibility, but they all go way beyond my needs. While it sounds like Rob Marsh’s plugins do some great things, I prefer to stick with the most popular options that are regularly updated.

          1. That’s great, it appears I’m too old to use disqus when lot of changes already went by Or it might be because I used it with blogger blog that time could not realize full range of benefits. This discussion is fruitful as I am cleared off from those misconceptions regarding disqus. If comments are visible to search engines and lets people network, it’s great! Nothing to worry!

  4. Brian Im trying to figure out where I should just go with wordpress or have a topspin website, that already has everything included and I don’t have to worry about plug ins, or a bandzoogle page that also has everything in one place and its all intuitive. What do you think is the best way to go and why.

    1. Both Topspin and Bandzoogle cost money, and limit you to the functionality they’ve built into their systems. They can’t do half the things these plugins can. On the other hand, they’re totally focused on musicians’ needs and easy to set up. What’s right for you depends on how much time and money you have, and how technically savvy you are. While it’s fairly easy to launch a self-hosted WordPress blog, there’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to customization.

      1. the thing I like about topspin, is the rapleaf thing, where if someone give you their email, you can get demographics, or where they live, whats their age and things like that, which can be very valuable to know, when setting up an email campaign, or a tour, there is another company called flowtown, which does that, but it costs a lot, do you know of any plug in for word press that can give us those kinds of statistics.

  5. Hi Brian –

    I think a really useful WP plugin is Degradable HTML 5 player – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/degradable-html5-audio-and-video/

    I use it at my WP site, and it allows any HTML5 compatible browser – i.e. all the iPad / iPhone / iEtc visitor – to be able to play my audio clips, sans Flash. But – it also serves up an elegant flash player for the browsers that need that.

    It’s a smidge tricky to setup, since you have to create OGG versions of your audio if you want the plugin to work right on FireFox.

    How-to article over here for anyone that’s interested: http://www.toolateforroses.com/blog/getting-a-music-site-working-on-the-ipad/

    – Karl

  6. Oh, re Alandes question about WP e-Commerce, I set up their “Squeeze Page” function – very cool.

    When installed, you use a shortcode to put a simple AJAX email collection form on your site. When the visitor completes the form, the WP system automatically emails them a download link – in my case, to a free EP.

    Works great, and you don’t have to manage anything once you get it setup. Here’s their page about how to do it..: http://www.tipsandtricks-hq.com/ecommerce/how-to-make-a-squeeze-page-using-the-wordpress-estore-plugin-126

    – Karl
    http://www.toolateforroses.com/

    1. OOH! Cheers! Can’t wait to install that one too. At the moment, people have to right-click to get the free album, and I don’t have a clue how many download it.

  7. One more for you!

    I just updated colortheory.com to be HTML5 compatible, so that audio plays back properly on iPhones and iPads. The old widgets from Soundcloud and Official.fm rely on Flash, so I swapped in widgets from Bandcamp wherever possible, and hosted my own mp3 files using a WordPress plugin called WPaudio. You can see it in action on my site here.

  8. Thanks for suggesting DiggDigg, it works like a charm! so much better than what I had installed before!
    For the mobile plugin, I’m using Wapple Architect, its easy to use and customizable. Im not sure what it looks like on other mobile devices though, but its great on my iTouch.
    Im also using YARPP and so far so good.

    You can check it all out on my blog: http://www.caviarcreme.com

    Do you have a suggestion to automatically feed my Facebook Page and my Twitter?

    1. Glad to hear Digg Digg is working out for you! I see that the share icons don’t quite line up on your site, which is why I stack them on top of each other rather than side-by-side.

      Wapple Architect looks interesting! It may be more powerful than WPtouch, but it looks tougher at first glance. It sounds like you can only set it up on one site for free, so that already rules me out.

      As for automatically feeding your Facebook Page and Twitter, I’m not sure what you’re trying to feed them :). I sometimes use Ping.fm to send out status updates everywhere at once. Lately, I’ve only bothered with Facebook and Twitter, sometimes just one or the other.

  9. I would also suggest a plugin called AddToAny which allows users to click any post and have a short URL sent to Twitter/FaceBook/Digg etc. It’s an easy way to allow individual posts to be ‘buzzed up’!

  10. Greetings, great post, very helpful when wading through the many plugins that wordpress has….just wondering on your color theroy page what is the twiiter conversation plugin that you are using? & the connect widget? They make your site look uncluttered http://yokittyjo.com/.

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