Whenever anyone hears the term ‘social network’, the name that invariably comes to mind is ‘Facebook’. Valued at $104 billion and with 1.23 billion active users, Facebook is a household name around the world. We depend on it heavily for our personal as well as professional lives. In fact, Facebook is even overpowering email. With smartphones, we carry Facebook around with us all day, staying connected with friends, colleagues etc. However, social media does not begin or end with Facebook – there is Twitter, Instagram etc.
While looking at Facebook, one might wonder ‘Is it possible for me to start my own social network?’ The answer is ‘Yes!’ And the good news is that you can do it quite easily with just WordPress, without needing to possess any special technical skills. In fact, WordPress is so easy to use, that even high school students can use it quite easily. With WordPress, creating your own social network with the features that you see on popular social media sites is a breeze. For creating your own social network, you just need to look at four WordPress plugins – BuddyPress, WP Symposium, WP Mingle and BB Press.
Using BuddyPress, you can build many core features into your WordPress social networking website which can be turned on or off whenever required, granting you complete control. With BuddyPress, profiles can be created by users, friendships can be initiated by users with other users, groups can be formed, private messaging between users can be enabled etc.
With BuddyPress, users will get regular updates in addition to being able to contact and network with other users. Site tracking is among the WordPress plugins that BuddyPress can work with. BuddyPress is indeed a complete package, and it is a free plugin. You can easily clear any doubts regarding this plugin as there are many BuddyPress users – all you need to post your doubt in the BuddyPress community.
A good alternative to BuddyPress is WP Symposium. With this plugin, building forums is an option. Creating widgets by adding shortcodes, and changing the layout are other options. WP Symposium is great if you are looking at building a multi-lingual social networking website. WP Symposium works well with the WPML (WordPress Multilingual) plugin. With WP Symposium, customization is very easy.
By using WP Mingle, the admin portion of the WordPress login will not be seen by users – in fact, the appearance will be that of a social networking website that is non-WordPress. With WP Mingle, there is an option for premium membership. BBPress is a plugin that helps you add forums to your existing website without giving you a complete social networking website. This plugin is suitable for those with websites which already enjoy a large viewership.
The reasons for setting up your own social network could be various. Whatever your reasons may be, the fact remains that you do not need to be a genius to set up a social network. With very easy-to-use WordPress and any of the above plugins (chosen after looking at your requirements and preferences), you could easily build your own social network.