Using WordPress To Turn Your Website Into A Social Network

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When we talk about social networking, there is always one social network that gets left off the list. With one of the largest networks in the world, and with over 20% of all websites run on this gigantic social network we need to change that.

The social network in question is WordPress. For those familiar with WordPress, this is not a stretch. As a blogging platform, comment threads, user roles, and content are at the core of WordPress. However, with some of the amazing plugins and themes that we will be discussing here, WordPress can be a much more dynamic social network than most people give it credit for.

Let’s change that today. Below you will find tips to help you better understand how to use WordPress as a social network. Also you will learn how to create your own social network through the amazing array of tools available at your disposal.

WordPress Social Networking Tools

BuddyPress

What Does It Do?

BuddyPress is the standard-bearer for using WordPress as a social network. This plugin is amazing in how many ways you can use it to create a dynamic social network out of WordPress.  With over 330 plugins designed specifically for BuddyPress, you really can do anything – from creating groups and profiles to creating connections with other users on the site.

EasyOutsource BuddyPressBuddyPress turns WordPress into a full featured social networking platform.

How to Use This Plugin?

If you have a niche topic, using BuddyPress to create a social network for like-minded people would be a great application.

For example, EasyOutsource.Com uses BuddyPress to help Filipino Virtual Assistant’s connect with potential employers. The University of British Columbia uses BuddyPress, so their students can create blogs through the college.  WebCuties.Me is like a Hot or Not social networking site. TastyKitchen.Com is a place for women (owned by Blog Her) to share and discuss recipes.

Using BuddyPress allows you to create a community of like-minded individuals who can share in their triumphs and defeats. It’s great for a new site looking to build a growing trove of followers.

BBPress

What Does It Do?

BBPress is more of a forum than a social network, but forums are the predecessors to social networking, so I thought it deserved a place in this list. I would have used the Mingle Forums instead of BBPress, but they took them down recently. So, for the moment BBPress is your best option for starting a forum.

BBPress is a lightweight forum designed to help you create a long-term relationship with your readers.

BBPress WordPress Forums

How to Use This Plugin?

Remember that WordPress.org uses BBPress to run their entire support forum.

Then you also have sites like WeddingBee.Com where brides (and a few grooms) ask questions about anything for their upcoming nuptials. A sort of self-help for the perfect day.

On a grosser level, there is even a BBPress forum used for bed bugs. Yes, the BedBugger forum is there for those with bed bug problems. Check out other BBPress forums here.

WP Symposium

What Does It Do?

WP Symposium is an interesting alternative to BuddyPress, because the site is very simple to install and use. The interface is easy, and many who disliked BuddyPress for its perceived bulk appreciate the two step set up process for WP Symposium.

Rob Zombie WP Symposium

How to Use This Plugin?

RobZombie.Com added WP Symposium to their site, so their fans could interact with the band. Conversely, VNolly.com uses WP Symposium so members can keep up to date on what their favorite Nigerian actors are up to as they gossip about entertainment news.

A Good Social Networking Plugin Is Like an Old Friend

The big question you are now asking is: Great, which plugin should I use? The answer is that you will know which social networking plugin to use, because you feel comfortable in their presence. In the end with all the different features on all of the plugins listed above, you will find that the one that serves your needs best is the right one for your needs.

After all, these are only tools designed to make your life easier. WordPress like the rest of the social networks only exist, because we find them so irresistible to use. They make our lives better when we connect with friends from faraway lands.

WordPress allows you to create communities based around those interests. That is why over the past few years, we have seen a proliferation of social networking plugins. Because the connections are valuable, and people want to do more with the site. Let me know below how you used the social networking tools listed in this article to build professional relationships online.

This is a guest article by Andy Nathan

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Andy Nathan
Andy Nathan is the founder of Smart At The Start and The Startup Gap. The Startup Gap helps leaders understand what happens between dreams and success.
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