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How to Turn Your WordPress Site Into a Social Network

Do you want to turn your WordPress site into a social network?

A WordPress social network allows users to sign up, connect with each other, post messages, and more. These features can create a sense of community and turn one-time visitors into loyal long-term users.

In this article, we will show you how to turn your WordPress site into a social network.

Create a Social Network with BuddyPress

Why Turn Your WordPress Site Into a Social Network?

Social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter are some of the most popular websites in the world, and most people have multiple social networks.

In fact, according to our marketing research, the average social media user has accounts on more than 8 social media platforms.

With that in mind, you may want to start your own social networking website.

Social features can help build a sense of community and keep people coming back to your website. For example, you might add a social network to your film review blog so movie fans can connect with other film lovers.

You might even create a private social network. For example, if you sell online courses then social features allow students to connect with their classmates. This can improve their experience, which will encourage them to buy more courses from you in the future.

With that being said, let’s see how you can turn your WordPress website into a social network.

How to Turn Your WordPress Site Into a Social Network?

The easiest way to add social features to WordPress, is by using BuddyPress. This free plugin has everything you need to build an online community including allowing visitors to register with your website and create a detailed user profile.

Once they’re signed up, users will be able to send messages, add other people as friends, create specialist online groups, and more.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the BuddyPress plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, go to Settings » BuddyPress to configure the plugin settings.

BuddyPress Settings

The settings page is divided into different tabs. The first tab is ‘Components,’ which shows all the BuddyPress components that are currently active on your site.

The default components should work well for most websites and WordPress blogs. However, you can activate or deactivate any component by clicking its checkbox.

If you make any changes to the default components, then don’t forget to click on ‘Save Settings’ to store your changes.

Next, switch to the ‘Options’ tab.

Creating a social media network using the BuddyPress Options tab

Here are all the different settings that you can turn on and off in BuddyPress. For example, you can allow users to set a custom avatar, invite other people to join the network, and more.

The default settings will work for most websites, but you can look through them and make any changes you want.

When you’re happy with these settings, click on the ‘Pages’ tab.

The BuddyPress social network plugin settings

Here you can link a page to each active component, so BuddyPress knows to show its content and features on that specific page.

By default, the plugin will automatically create a Members page, where it wil show all the people who are registered with your website.

The BuddyPress Members page, on a social network site

It will also create an Activity Streams page, which displays all the activity across the BuddyPress components.

This is similar to the home feed on a site like Facebook or Twitter.

Activity page

The default settings should work for most websites. However, if you want to use a different page then simply open a dropdown and then choose that page from the list.

If you don’t see Register and Activate settings on this page, then you’ll need to enable user registration on your WordPress site.

When you’re happy with how BuddyPress is set up, don’t forget to click on ‘Save Settings.’

Displaying BuddyPress Pages on Your Website

If you visit your website now, then you won’t see any new social features. To change this, you need to add the BuddyPress pages to your WordPress navigation menu.

Simply go to the Appearance » Menus page.

Adding the BuddyPress social pages to a WordPress menu

You can then open the ‘Select a menu to edit dropdown’ and choose the menu where you want to add the BuddyPress pages. This will usually be the primary menu, but you can use any menu you want. After that, click on the ‘Select’ button.

In the left-hand menu, check the box next to each BuddyPress page such as ‘Groups’ and ‘Members.’ You can then click the ‘Add to Menu’ button.

BuddyPress navigation

After that, you can rearrange the pages in your menu using drag and drop.

When you’re happy with how the menu is set up, click on the ‘Save Menu’ button. With that done, you can visit your website to see the updated menu in action.

BuddyPress links

BuddyPress works with all the best WordPress themes. It also has its own templates that you can use, in case your theme doesn’t come with any built-in BuddyPress templates.

If your theme doesn’t work well with BuddyPress, then you can check out our list of the best WordPress themes for BuddyPress.

Managing Your WordPress Social Network in BuddyPress

Building an online community can take a lot of time and effort. Thankfully, there are tools that can help you reduce the workload especially when it comes to moderating user generated content and combating spam.

If you’ve already installed Akismet, then BuddyPress will use it to block spam. However, some unwanted content may still get through.

This is where BuddyPress’ built-in tools come with.

To take a look at these tools, go to Activity in the WordPress dashboard. Here, you’ll see all the actions that visitors have taken on your website.

Managing user activity in BuddyPress

If you find a suspicious or unwanted action then you can mark it as spam, or delete it.

Similarly, you mark suspicious accounts as spam, or remove them completely by going to the Users page. Here, simply hover over any user and then select ‘Delete’ or ‘Spam.’

Managing user accounts

You can also manage new users by going to Users » Manage Signups.

Here, you can activate new users, resend the activation email, or delete user accounts.

Manage new signups

Creating and Managing Groups in BuddyPress

BuddyPress allows you and your users to create groups, which act as sub-communities on your website. Each group has its own members and activity streams. Users can join these groups, invite other people, post messages, and more.

To create a new group, select Groups from the left-hand menu and then click on the ‘Add New’ button.

Add new group

Tip: If you don’t see a Groups option, then go to Settings » BuddyPress and activate the ‘User Groups’ component following the same process described above.

After clicking on the ‘Add New’ button, BuddyPress will take you to the ‘Enter Group Name & Description’ page.

First you need to type in a name and description for the group. After that, click on the ‘Create group and continue’ button.

Creating a new group in BuddyPress

On the next page, you can choose between public, private, and hidden privacy settings.

Anyone can join a public group and make posts. Meanwhile, private groups appear in the BuddyPress groups directory, but users have to send a request to join. Only approved users can see the group’s contents.

Group privacy settings

Finally, hidden groups are only visible to members. These groups won’t appear in the BuddyPress groups directory, or in search results.

After setting up the privacy options, click on the ‘Next’ button to continue. On this screen, you can choose a photo to use as the group’s profile picture.

Profile photo for the group

After that, choose a cover photo for the group and click on the ‘Next’ button.

Finally, you may want to invite some people to join the new group, so that it isn’t completely empty. Just be aware that you can only invite users who you’ve added as friends.

Invite users to join group

When you’re happy with how the group is set up, click on the ‘Finish’ button to go ahead and create the group.

Now, users can simply visit the BuddyPress Groups page to see all the different communities they can join.

Groups directory

Clicking on a group name will show a page where users can join, post updates, and follow the group activity.

Pro Tip: Make sure you add the Groups page to your WordPress navigation menu, following the same process described above.

Group page

Managing Email Notifications

BuddyPress will automatically email users about new activity in their social stream. This encourages people to visit your website, and can re-engage members who were losing interest in your social networking site.

That being said, it’s a good idea to modify the email notifications to better match your site’s branding and tone.

To see all the default BuddyPress emails, select Emails from the left-hand menu. On this screen, you’ll see the email title and some information about when each message will be sent to the user.

Creating email notifications for your WordPress social network site

You can modify any of the default emails by hovering your mouse over it and then selecting the ‘Edit’ link when it appears.

This opens an email editor where you can change the message’s text and the action that will trigger the notification.

Editing email notifications

If you want to change the email colors, header, and footer areas then go to the Emails » Customize page.

This opens a visual editor where you can change how the email looks, similar to how you edit a theme using the WordPress Theme Customizer.

Customize emails

After setting up these emails, you’ll want to make sure they land in the user’s inbox and not in the spam folder. With that in mind, we recommend using a SMTP service provider to improve your email deliverability rates.

For more information, please see our guide on how to fix WordPress not sending email issue.

We hope this article helped you turn your WordPress site into a social network using BuddyPress. You may also want to see our ultimate step on how to increase your blog traffic, or see our expert pick of the best social media plugins for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

20 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Hi,
    is it possible to change the background colour to a picture/image pattern? The greyish background looks kinda boring for a social platform.

    • IT would depend on the pattern you are using for the method but most if not all patterns should be able to be edited to fit your site’s design or your preferences.


  2. How do I remover the wordpress bar up the website where is written “Login and Register”? Please?

    • Unless BuddyPress changes its interface, you should be able to go under Settings>BuddyPress and uncheck the “Show the Toolbar for logged out users”.


    • MemberPress would be for membership sites and things like courses while BuddyPress would be for creating a social network as we show in this post :)


  3. Would BuddyPress be a good choice if I wanted to build a social media that also required users to be able to upload audio and video files as part of their profiles?

    Thank you!

  4. As a Web Designer, am currently building a social networking site for a client of mine and we were initially using Buddypress..

    However along the line, we discover the profile photo part seems like an issue as people would have to crop their photo (which is a pain) before it works

    Any code on how to skip the cropping photo part?

  5. Some times its a pain to read what blog owners wrote but this web site is real user pleasant!

  6. Hi am from nigeria and I want to build a social network for farmers how do I go is buddypress great which other plug ins do u recommend for bp

  7. I’m no expert, but I try to dig as deep as I can when using WordPRess and plugins… HAving said so, BP is great and has a lot of functionlaity extended with plugins… Perhaps too much?

    I am in the (nightmarish) process of researching options to create a social network, and I can say that I ended up letting go BP to favor a little awesome one who’s giving me some pretty good results in terms of flexibility and ease of use: Ultimate Member… Maybe less extended / less features than BP (not than core BP) but it’s such a pleasure to work with!

  8. This is really great. With this plugin, I can create a successful group channel for my website. Does it comes with a pay version or free?

  9. Hi,

    BuddyPress is a good solution for a social community but we have recently had problems when expanding its capabilities because you need so many extra feature plugins from different authors and hence conflicts and bugs arise.

    We hare just in the process of moving our community over to Peepso and when you add the power of all the addon plugins it is way more powerful than BP.

    If you would like us to write about our experience then let us know.


    • Hi Dale. Visited your website and it’s really cool.would love to know the plug in you ended up using.Thank you

    • Good day, Im based in South Africa, and in process of building a classified social media website, what will you recommend to use buddypress or Peepso.


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