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How to Build a Social Network Using a Free WP Plugin

Did you know that it’s possible to create a social network on your WordPress site? Well… it is! You can literally turn your WordPress into a social networking platform by using the free WordPress plugin, BuddyPress! 

Why would you want such a plugin on your website? The better question is, why would you not want to install this plugin? If you would like to turn your site into a community of users, add social media features, or attempt to build an entire social media platform with WordPress, then this is the plugin for you!

BuddyPress will allow you to take your site beyond the typical blog or business page. In recent years, BuddyPress has been used as a campus-wide social networking platform for universities, as an internal communication tool for companies, as a niche social networking for very specific interest groups, and for focused communities for products and services. It is also integrated with bbPress to enhance community forms. 

By following just a few easy steps, you can gain all the social media features that you have come to know and love from your favorite social media platforms. BuddyPress comes with multiple social media elements that can integrate directly into your site. Some of those elements include detailed user profiles, published updates, the opportunity to join groups, private messaging, group messaging and so much more. It allows website visitors to network with each other, stay updated on new information, and stay in touch with things going on in the community. This social networking plugin allows you to build your own online platform for any online or offline community!

One of the coolest things about BuddyPress is that there are over 500 plugins available to help you add unique features to your site. But, you do not have to use them! If you only want to use a select few, BuddyPress will adapt to that and only show the menu items and pages for the features you have enabled. Did we mention it is FREE?

This multi-feature packed plugin is easy to integrate into your website and it is very easy to get started! BuddyPress can be installed on your site directly from the WordPress plugin directory.  Are you ready to Install?

  1. To begin, log in to your WordPress website’s admin area and find Plugins on the left-hand panel on your screen. Hover your mouse over Plugins. You will see that you have a choice between Installed Plugins or Add New. Press Add New. On the right-hand side, you’ll see a search bar that will allow you to search for options. In that bar, search for BuddyPress. 

2. You will see that BuddyPress shows up on the left-hand side of the screen. In the BuddyPress box, press Install Now. BuddyPress then installs into your system and you will see the option to activate. Press Activate

3. After you have pressed activate, you will see this popup. 

4. The picture above is basically welcoming you to the newly activated plugin and letting you know about the recently updated version of BuddyPress. From there, you can click the X in the top right-hand corner and mess with the settings on the newly installed BuddyPress menu, located under the settings sidebar menu. 

5. You can individually activate or disable any component. This makes BuddyPress extremely beneficial for those who only want to add a few of the many social networking elements to their website.

6. Under Components, check any element that you think would fit nicely into your site. You can also uncheck elements that you do not think would look good on your site. This is really where you can add all of your social networking elements.  As you can see, the tabs next to components are Options, Pages, and Credits. The Options button allows you to access the toolbar. The Pages tab allows you to configure the pages that are using the BuddyPress plugin to show member information and their activity. You can also set up the registration and activation Pages in the Pages tab as well.  

This is what your page will look like if you do not yet have any members on your site. The down arrow next to members will allow you to associate a WordPress page with each BuddyPress component directory. Use the down arrow to view the list and choose. The options range from live web chat, to blog, to test page, to set an appointment, and much more.

From there, you can begin adding people to your social network! In addition, the visitors to your site can register to become members! Feel free to play with the different features available to see what you like the best!

Wasn’t this process easier than you anticipated? Are you ready to start your own social network? Go get ’em!