WordPress serves as a platform for many different kinds of websites, including social networking sites. A good number of these social networking websites rely on BuddyPress for building their community platform. This plugin adds a whole basket of features necessary for social networking capabilities like user registration, creation of profiles and groups. Over and above these features, you’ll find that there are a whole lot of BuddyPress plugins that add functionality to your networking sites.
If you get these tools in place – WordPress Installation, BuddyPress, quality BuddyPress themes, and suitable BuddyPress plugins – you can get started on your social networking site. Or else, you can add a social group to an existing site, for instance, a study group on an educational institution’s website. Or, even a dating website with help from some neat dating themes.
As always, with WordPress, you’re almost certain to find a plugin for any function that you need. These free plugins from the WordPress plugin directory can enhance user experience on your networking site.
rtMedia for WordPress, BuddyPress and bbPress
rtMedia for BuddyPress can elevate your BuddyPress community experience to a whole new level. On a social networking site, media elements play an important part and rtMedia can handle these elements efficiently.
There’s not much you have to do by way of configuration with this plugin. The BuddyPress related settings in the plugin will be turned on automatically once the plugin is in active mode. You’ll not have to worry about compatibility with smaller devices as this plugin adopts a mobile first approach.
When clicked, the media tab that appears on every profile page opens up a number of media options – albums, photos, videos, music, playlist, documents. Here you can upload media, add comments, and create albums and slideshows. Upload to BuddyPress Groups is also possible, if the Groups are enabled on your BuddyPress.
With the plugin active on your WordPress, it’s possible to attach all kinds of media to any activity on the site. All a user needs to do is attach a file, select appropriate privacy settings, select the group or profile to post to, and then update the post.
In addition, rtMedia offers 35+ premium add-ons for uploading, editing and managing media on BuddyPress. They include a shortcode generator, sidebar widgets for uploaders and galleries, an extension for Instagram effects, view counter, and custom thumbnail for audio/video.
BuddyPress Group Email Subscription
Whenever there is any activity in the group, all the group members will come to know about it with the help of this plugin. The plugin keeps all Group members in the loop by sending out emails, whenever any activity occurs within the group.
The emails will go out automatically to group members at a frequency of their choice. Users can choose from 5 subscription levels – daily, weekly, as soon as there is any activity or whenever there is a new topic. Of course, they can also choose not to receive any email at all. When it comes to new members, Group Admins can select any one of the 5 options and apply it group wide.
The daily mail will be a digest of all the emails from the group that the user is subscribed to. The emails will go out each morning, along with a helpful summary for each topic. The summary and the timing of the mail can be managed from the backend. Users can also choose to follow or to mute any discussion.
Group Admin has overriding powers and can send out emails to all subscribers, irrespective of their subscription status. All these features make BuddyPress Group Email Subscription a convenient option to keep all Group members up to speed with group activities.
WordPress Social Login
All social networks need you to fill out registration forms and submit personal details. Networks and groups using BuddyPress have a similar requirement. When you install WordPress Social Login, it automatically pulls details from the users’ social network profiles to complete their BuddyPress user profiles. All you need to do is visit Components under WordPress Social Login and enable Profile Mapping under the BuddyPress tab. Users will not have to bother with filling registration forms, or remembering usernames and passwords.
Not only will the plugin pull in the user profiles, WP Social Login also imports their contact list from Gmail, LinkedIn, Windows Live and Facebook. The plugin integrates fully with BuddyPress and on activation you’ll find that user avatars also display right away.
What good is a social network without a chat room? Users or group members ought to be able to enter into a discussion in which other members can participate. iFlyChat is a free plugin that’s perfect for group discussions and chat rooms on a community or social networking site. Further, it allows any two members in the group to enter into a private conversation with each other. Using a shortcode, you can call up the records of a conversation.
Dating sites, online courses, fan clubs and similar groups will find this plugin useful. Not only that, you can configure the plugin to provide online support for any product or service.
Moreover, you need have no fear that a heavy volume of chat traffic may slow down your site. All chats are routed through cloud based servers and therefore, the response time is fast. By adjusting the settings, you can set up moderation for chat rooms as well as allow participants to chat anonymously. Participants can attach files, share pictures, videos and URLs and use customizable emoticons.
If security is your concern, you’ll be happy that chats are automatically encrypted for SSL secured sites. Logged in users are spared the bother of signing into chat. Most importantly, the plugin automatically integrates with BuddyPress, and users’ avatars and profile links show up in a chat. It can also access the BuddyPress friends list.
For removal of branding, unlimited chat rooms and longer retention of chat records, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid plans.
BP Social Connect
If you’re looking to increase user engagement and social activity among your BuddyPress community, BP Social Connect is the plugin you need. It connects your BuddyPress site to both Facebook and Google.
The plugin accesses social network data for BuddyPress purposes, and displays the social profile avatar in the slot for BuddyPress avatar. It connects existing users as well as new users with their social profiles. It works with most WordPress themes as well as with multisites.
Wanguard is a security plugin that steps up the safety of your WordPress website by blocking undesirable users. It’s totally free for personal use at present, but that’s likely to change soon. The main function of this plugin is to protect your registration page from sploggers and other unwelcome users. The unique feature of this plugin is that it even rids your database of these unauthorized users. However, it doesn’t stop spam, but you can always fall back on the free Akismet plugin for that.
This plugin is perfect for use when you include a sign in option on a multisite, BuddyPress, WordPress, bbPress or “My Profile” in WooCommerce. For Wanguard to be compatible with W3 Total Cache, you need to disable the minify option. Likewise, you’ll need to test the plugin compatibility before use with custom registration pages in BuddyPress.
The protection offered by Wanguard is somewhat personalized, as its efficiency improves each time it scans your website. It collects the information submitted by site Admins to be able to identify sploggers more efficiently. It largely dispenses with the need for any additional protection of the login page, meaning you don’t have to enable captcha and similar plugins. If you insist on another layer of protection, Wanguard offers the display of a security question.
BuddyForms is a drag and drop form builder that comes with ready-to-use templates. It automates the process of generating content within a community or a network. The plugin is compatible with BuddyPress and gives you control over user generated content. Besides the usual forms like contact forms and registration forms, it also supports collaborative efforts. For instance, you can build a showcase where users can submit their products as well, or create comprehensive articles with content contribution from many users.
BuddyForms offers a user friendly interface that helps to build contact forms or any other advanced form without any coding skills. Users can submit content from the frontend, and site admins get to moderate submitted content in a streamlined fashion.
BuddyForms is a great option for social marketplaces as it combines well with BuddyPress, WooCommerce and Ultimate Member and WooCommerce Vendors. The form supports multiple field types and allows admins to set validation rules. Forms can be embedded anywhere on the site using shortcodes.
You do not have to restrict your search for BuddyPress plugins to the WordPress plugin directory. A number of third party, premium plugins are also available that can add specific functions to extend your BuddyPress capabilities. There are plugins that filter bad language, plugins that play nice with both WooCommerce and BuddyPress to enhance online shopping experience within communities and many more plugins. Three plugins are featured here.
WP Content Filter
On any social network, you’re sure to run into all kinds of users. While some add value to the site with interesting profiles and discussions, there are others who spam and use swear words. It’s best to catch unwanted and indecent language even before it hits your discussion pages. This kind of language merely brings disrepute to your website.
WP Content Filter is effective in cutting down profanity on your WordPress website. While the plugin can be downloaded for free from the WordPress repository, to filter BuddyPress content you’ll have to choose one of their paid plans. It also comes with a built-in scanner that sweeps the entire content and makes out a report of matching items.
To block select content on your network, you’ll need to make out a list of the words to filter. That’s all you need to do by way of configuration. However, there’s a whole lot options that you can alter to control how unwanted content displays on your site. You can apply strict or liberal filtering. Strict filtering will blank out the words you specify, even if they form part of a bigger word. You can choose the sections of the website that you want to filter. If you wish to blank out words leaving the first letter visible, that’s possible as well.
The database content does not change change at all, the content merely passes through the filter before display on screen. It’s also possible to exclude specific pages and posts from filtering.
WooCommerce BuddyPress Integration
To know about the shopping habits of community members, you should try WooCommerce BuddyPress Integration. All the shop data from WooCommerce is integrated into the BuddyPress member profiles. With so much information about each member, you can attempt to personalize their shopping experience. The plugin is easy to use, requiring no configuration.
It encourages members to talk to one another about your products or brand, and syncs all WooCommerce data with BuddyPress data. All customer reviews find place in the activity stream. Users can edit their shipping and billing address via their member profile, and access all personal information on one screen. Even checkout is possible via the shopping cart on the profile page. And with the order id received in a confirmation email, the member can track the order status on their profile.
BuddyPress Featured Members
If some members are active on your networking site or if you want to showcase any outstanding member, you can mark them out as featured members and display them prominently on the site. This serves as an incentive to other members to be more active on the site. BuddyPress Featured Members allows site admins to mark profiles as featured and displays them on a list or on a slider.
Multiple members can be marked and they can be featured with the help of shortcode or widget. The members list can be customized as well.
BuddyPress is a versatile, totally reliable, time tested plugin that can serve as a secure platform for your community network. It’s compatible with WordPress and has an active community supporting it. While the plugin works just great out of the box, the plugins in this list can improve user experience and help you build a vibrant and active community.