Add Social Networking Features to Your Blog With BuddyPress

The latest release of BuddyPress 1.2 now supports installation on single-user WordPress (version 2.9.x) (please see disclosure at bottom) blogs, which is exciting news as it means that millions of sites can now add social networking/community features to their existing blogs.

I’ve added social networking features with BuddyPress 1.2 to a couple of my WordPress blogs without any problems. I can safely state that this new version is going to be very popular with bloggers all over the globe. Within minutes your blog will have Twitter-like status updates for your blog readers and writers (called the “activity stream”), who all now become members of your new social network. Also included out of the box are easy to use message boards and groups. Members can either join existing forums and groups or create new ones about any subject matter they’re interested in. They can communicate in the public stream or via private messaging with one another or via their own groups they establish on your social network. There’s also a useful Member Directory that allows members to communicate with other other. Every member has an extended profile they can fill out any way they want.

Here’s a sample of what a BuddyPress install looks like:

One of the things that I like is the option to make your home page either your blog posts or the activity stream. The choice is up to you: do you want to keep your blog as the focal point of your site or do you want the social network to take center stage? If you choose to make the activity stream your home page, then a new tab called “Blog” is added, which is where all blog posts will be available.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that BuddyPress — like WordPress itself — is extensible, which means you can add many new features and functionality via plugins and widgets.You can also change the look and feel of your new social network with themes customized for BuddyPress features.

I’ve been a BuddyPress user since its early beta and release candidate releases. While those early iterations had some minor bugs as you might expect, the BuddyPress support community was extremely helpful and swift with suggestions for fixes or workarounds. I expect the community to continue to be so supportive with this official release of BuddyPress 1.2.

Important: Just in case, it’s always smart to perform a full backup of your WordPress blog and database before experimenting with anything that integrates with your infrastructure, as BuddyPress does. There are many excellent backup plugins you can use. It’s better safe than sorry.

Disclosure: Automattic, maker of WordPress.com, is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

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