Create a social media website with WordPress and build a thriving niche community.
Have you ever wanted to make your own social network? If you’re ambitious and creative, this has probably crossed your mind once or twice…
Sadly, most of us picture social networks as some huge project that consists of countless man hours and millions of dollars invested.
What if I told you that all you ever needed was a WordPress blog, a great plugin, and some dedication on your part?
Granted, you probably won’t be able to create the next big thing in social media. But you can certainly build a smaller, highly dedicated community that revolves around a popular subject or industry.
Let’s look into the best way to create a social network for WordPress!
Why Create a WordPress Social Network?
Does the internet need more social media sources? Why would anyone build a community when there are so many ways for people to interact already?
The above questions largely depend on your overall goals and ambition.
Personally, if you ask me whether this endeavor is worth it, my answer would be ‘Yes’…. but with one major condition: It needs to be a niche community.
A niche community allows for greater control and makes your social network much easier to grow. For example, think of a small network dedicated to multiplayer video game discussion where everyone shares tips, images, video, news, and general updates…
Likewise, imagine a tight network where financial newbies can learn all about investing or travel enthusiasts can discuss different places around the world…
In contrast, an all-purpose medium similar to Facebook or Twitter is just not realistic for the average blogger. So again, niche down and thrive within one specific category.
Benefits and Drawbacks
- Create a thriving source where like-minded individuals hang and exchange ideas
- Control everything without fear of getting your account restricted or banned
- Unlimited room for growth and potential income
The above sounds great and everything, but it may require considerable time and attention as your community grows…
Some users may email you about specific technical issues or questions that may or may not pertain to the general community. This is really no different than managing an old-fashioned forum.
Thus, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into before investing so much time and energy into creating a social network on WordPress.
WordPress Social Network Plugins
Let’s explore the three best plugins to get the ball rolling, as any of these are more than enough to create a social media empire within WordPress.
Peepso is known for its ease of use and wide range of features, as it works right out of the box without the need to modify many settings:
- Supports front-end user profiles packed with images, avatars, and descriptions
- Front-end user registration and login
- Real-time activity streams similar to Facebook and other modern networks
- Customize privacy settings to show or hide whatever is shared on the front-end
- User directory and advanced filtering options
- Ability to create custom user roles
- Ability to show who’s online in real-time
- Hashtags to help find user profiles or other specific features
- An accurate view counter on user-generated submissions
- Support for various reactions on user-submissions
- On-site and email notifications for various actions and warnings
BuddyPress is probably the most popular social media plugin for WP users, as it’s become the face of social communities within WordPress. It is simple, yet advanced enough for those who are serious about their social network – including small business startups!
- Fully customizable user profiles and custom fields
- Real-time activity streams similar to modern social networks
- Supports private messaging among users
- Users can create their own groups
- Extensive third-party plugin support
- Multisite support
- Includes most features that are already available for Peepso
In addition to containing most of the aforementioned benefits, WP Symposium also comes with some of the following:
- Shortcode support allows you to insert any given feature anywhere on your site
- Login redirection options
- Customizable email notifications
- Ability to embed YouTube videos
- Like or dislike activity posts from users
- Create forums in addition to modern activity streams
Building traffic is not rocket science; it just takes dedication and basic know-how. For example, bringing new members could consist of any of the following:
First, create incentives such as WordPress gamification tactics to increase the chances of retaining new visitors
Publish keyword-researched articles and/or guest blog on other websites
Connect with like-minded bloggers and collaborate; help each other by promoting your resources with your respective audiences
Embrace paid advertising on sources like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and through Google Ads. You can stick to a low, flexible amount such as $10 per month, so don’t be afraid of ever going broke
Invite like-minded users on communities like Reddit and other forums (don’t spam and read each website’s specific rules)
We could talk about traffic tactics until the cows come home, but the above scenarios typically cover the gist of it. Refer to this list of articles to learn more about increasing blog traffic.
Tips / Recommendations
Customize a menu bar with frequently-used links for easy access, such as ‘Profile, Inbox, Groups, Friends, Leaderboards’ and other menu items depending on your setup.
How to: Visit your WordPress back-end screen, then click Appearance>Menus to get started.
Add widgets that users might find useful. These may show your social website’s top comments, newly-registered users, different user stats, and many other features.
How to: Click Appearance>Widgets from the WordPress back-end to add any desired widgets.
The cleaner your website looks, the better. Many social networks suffer from a cluttered interface; if your website is full of features, place them inside different pages as opposed to showing too much on the homepage.
Stick to lightweight themes that don’t rely heavily on scripts and fancy animations, as these can gradually slow down your website. Examples of lightweight WordPress themes include:
Let’s Get Social
While your social network won’t necessarily become a million-dollar venture, you can most definitely start a thriving community with the above plugins, the right strategies, and dedication.
This can practically guarantee a hugely successful (albeit niche) network of your own, which you can then monetize and scale over time. Best of luck!