Building a site with WordPress may seem like a piece of cake, but it takes a lot of time effort, research, planning and work to develop a community website. Many people have a misconception that installing a WP plugin to their existing site can create a social platform for audiences, but it is not that easy.
WordPress is no doubt the best way to start your social community, but you will have to be ready for a lot of brainstorming. You can build your public forum, a community to post blogs or a social networking site with in-built profile creation and communication features.
Various Types of Community Websites
Before you start building your social community website, it is important to know what exactly you are looking for. Focus on creating an online environment where the users can easily connect to each other, seamlessly and efficiently. However, keep in mind the user’s privacy and security.
The idea of creating a community site should be clear in your mind. Your site should be able to simplify the reason of its existence and the process of connectivity. Users should be clear on what they want from the site and why they should sign up. You need to focus on data security also.
Choose the type of site you want to develop from the list of community types.
The forum is the most popular and preferred among community sites. Mostly a panel is built to serve a good reason and develop awareness in the society. However, it can also fulfill multiple objectives depending on what your site is created for and what your brand is all about.
For instance, if you have a product related to your forum, your consumers can post their issues on the forum and other members can help each other in finding a solution. Over an online discussion, the members can resolve their problems, instead of waiting for the company support team to respond.
Even if you are a service provider, a forum can be very beneficial for you. For example, if you provide healthcare services, a forum related to that can let individuals discuss the health issues and related treatments online.
Community blogs are somewhat similar to forums, but certain specific features make community blog site different from forums. The forum is no doubt the best way of social communication, but community blogs have their quality and capability. Forums allow live individual and group discussions, but community blogs give your viewers a better chance to pitch their opinion and get heard by the world.
Community blogs give space to users, to upload and publish the content on your site. A content rich site always tops the chart of search engine ranking. If you are busy with your business, a community blog is your ultimate way of generating content through your audience.
It will not only bring a huge amount of content to the site, but it will also develop high audience engagement, quickly enhance search engine ranking, build strong audience base and save a lot of time.
Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites are quite different from a forum and a community blog. They not only allow your site visitors to discuss issues and resolutions individually but let them create their social profiles, generate friend lists and send private messages.
Under a social networking site, your members are also free to create sub-communities within the central community and various user groups.
How useful can be a plugin for creating a social community site using WordPress?
Plugins always work like a magic wand when building sites with WordPress. If you are confused about all the coding you need to do to start a social community site, you should select a good plugin, who can do the work for you.
With plenty of amazing plugins, compatible with WordPress, you can attract more and more visitors and engage them in your blog.
Most Popular Plugins for Social Community Websites
Although BuddyPress and bbPress are the kings of community plugins, there are many other useful plugins available to build your community website. Some of the powerful plugins and their advantages are mentioned below.
bbPress is the best plugin for developing a forum. This plugin is WordPress’s in-house plugin developed by team “Automattic”. With bbPress you can quickly add a forum presence to your website by a new WordPress user role as “participant”. The members, who will be designated to this role can generate interesting topics for your forum. This plugin gives you unlimited extensions to add multiple features to your forum.
The members, who will be designated to this role can generate interesting topics for your forum. This plugin gives you unlimited extensions to add multiple features to your forum.
You will need bbPress compatible WordPress themes to make this plugin work perfectly.
For more information and to download bbPress click here.
BuddyPress is ideal for all social networking websites. Earlier, BuddyPress was famous for its contribution to forums, but recently it has captured the market with its commendable performance in developing social networking sites. For forums, you would now require adding BuddyPress as a subsidiary plugin along with bbPress.
With BuddyPress as your primary plugin installed on a social networking site, you can setup your profile, send personal messages to your friends and other members of the community, create groups and talk to each other on a professional or personal level. BuddyPress is both robust and sophisticated social network software with focused ease of use.
Like bbPress, you will need BuddyPress compatible WordPress themes to make this plugin work perfectly. We have listed the best BuddyPress themes here; you can go for any of these themes are start your community site.
To try or download BuddyPress click here.
User Submitted Posts
User Submitted Posts is one of the most popular plugins for community blogs. It has a simple interface that makes it easy for the user to understand the features. This powerful plugin is best for integrating useful forms to pages and posts in your community blog. With the help of User Submitted Posts, your community members can easily post their content through the website frontend.
This plugin adds a shortcode which develops a form for submitting posts. Users can also add their name, URL, post category, image, post title, useful tags, email and content through the same platform.
If you need more options, we have listed the top front-end posting plugins here in this post.
For detailed information and plugin download click here.
WP Symposium Pro Social Network Plugin
WP Symposium Pro is good for both social networks and forums. This powerful plugin gives you the freedom to develop their community and add social profiles, create a friends list, send private messages and much more.
It also allows forum attachments like multiple attractive layouts and helpful YouTube videos. WP Symposium Pro is compatible with every theme and plugin. With its integration to beautiful activity wall and email alerts, it is perfect for schools, support sites, clubs, dating sites, customer support and dating sites.
To know more about WP Symposium Pro and its reliability click here.
PeepSo is one of the newest social network plugins with multiple distinct features to give you a fantastic community or social network website. This plugin also provides an option to create beautiful user profiles and exchange private messages. PeepSo is a lightweight, user-friendly and focused plugin to give you a stylish, attractive and decorated social media website.
Some of the exciting features of PeepSo are coherent configuration, nested comments, activity stream, pinned posts, avatar creation, image upload and customisable user profile. This plugin comes with compatibility with other useful plugins like GIPHY, gadgets and myCRED.
For more information on PeepSo click here
What else to do after installing the plugin?
Plugins are created to make your work easier; however, just installing a plugin is not enough. You need to manually set up few things to create a moving social network platform for your users.
Firstly, decide what type of forum you want to create and how many parent and child forum you want to add. Then, plan the topics, and you want to introduce to your forum and designate them to the parent forum. This will make the discussions on your forum interesting and attract users. If you want to go a little further, you can also create sub categories and sub topics to your site as child forums.
To build a successful community website through WordPress, you need proper research on what is trending, strategic planning about the site structure and usage, and your brand needs.
Once you complete the setup and put your site active, it is your responsibility to maintain the community integrity and keep it active.