BuddyPress: The Social Media Game Changer

BuddyPress is a new social networking plug in that allows you to create your own social network on a WordPress site.  Considering that 17% of all time spent on the internet is on social networking sites, you could create a miniature version of the giant Facebook and tap into the power of the social networking phenomenon.

This plug in is also ideal for businesses, schools and colleges.  Anyone with limited technical knowledge can quickly and easily set up an internal social or corporate network and communication tool, using a website builder, WordPress and the BuddyPress plug in.  BuddyPress is also great for adding social networking features to an existing blog, or creating a niche social network to publicize your product or further monetize your content.

Here’s an introduction to BuddyPress, how to use it and increase traffic to your blog:

What Are the Features of BuddyPress?

BuddyPress comes with 8 separate arms to the plug in, which you can install individually, in combination or as an entire package.  This allows you to install only the elements you need, depending on whether you want a fully functional social networking platform or simply the ability to extend the capability of your WordPress site.

Once you’ve created your site using the website builder, choose which elements of the BuddyPress plug in you’d like to install:

  1. Extended Profiles: site members can create their own profiles and fill in specific profile information as specified by the site administrator
  2. Private Messaging:  great for internal communication
  3. Friends:  members can become friends by inviting and accepting invitations
  4. Groups:  groups can be formed by members, posts and forum topics
  5. Activity Streams: all activity across the site can be streamed together
  6. Blog Tracking: in the same way as WordPress MU, BuddyPress allows multiple blogs and multiple users per blog.
  7. Forums: groups can create and manage their own forum, posting and replying to topics within the group.
  8. The Wire: just like The Wall in Facebook where users can post public comments

BuddyPress Plug Ins:

As well as the basic plug in, there are also hundreds of plug ins and themes to customize BuddyPress in order to build on your basic website builder.  Here are 5 essential BuddyPress plug ins to gives your social networking site the edge:

  1. BuddyPress Import Blog Activity: if you already have a WordPress site, you can install  BuddyPress and then use this extra plug to allow existing blog comments and posts to be integrated into the activity stream.
  2. Welcome Pack: when a new user joins your site you can set up an automatic welcome message and invite them to become a friend or part of a group.  Great for making a new user feel welcome and encouraging them to become a member.
  3. BP Rate Forum Posts: really good for engaging your network, getting them involved in the site and highlighting your great content.  Users can rate forum posts in the same way as they would on Digg and Stumbleupon, with good posts being highlighted and poor posts diminishing.  Karma points are also given to each user based on their posting history.
  4. Twitter to Wire: automatically adds tweets directly to your Wire, the public message board your network of friends can see that’s similar to Facebook’s Wall.  This is great for increasing your traffic by adding external links to your sites and helping to publicize your blog and social network.
  5. Invite Friends: allows you to add friends from other social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and Gmail.  Ideal for boosting your friends network on your new site.

There are also some really great BuddyPress themes which are available for free on our WordPress themes pageBuddymatic Theme FrameworkEarly Morning and Cosmic Buddy are some of the most popular.  The new version of BuddyPress 1.2 has also recently been released and is available to download through our resources page, as well as all the other BuddyPress plug ins.

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About the Author

Melanie Citron

Melanie Citron is a freelance writer and self proclaimed “techie” who lives in Denver with her husband, Glenn, and their three dogs Ralph, Sam and Billy. Melanie has become the “go to person” for creating online businesses for her friends and family. “I do it every day so I may as well write about it” Her knowledge has appeared on websites, in local newspapers and in person as a public speaker. In her spare time Melanie loves the outdoors and hikes and cross country skis.