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As a flexible content management system, WordPress is a great tool for building your online community. However, you may be used to using the platform for blogging and not knowing how to best adapt it for a community website.
Fortunately, you can build any type of online community you can imagine, thanks to the variety of relevant plugins that integrate seamlessly with WordPress. There are tools that will help you build fan sites, support networks, interest-based groups, and more.
In this list we will talk about why you might want to create an online community in the first place. Then we will highlight some of the best plugins to do it, and present their main features.
Why create an online community?
An online community - such as a forum, social media network, webpage, or membership site - is a platform where like-minded people can join. These communities can be intended for support, networking, or even fun.
There are a number of benefits of starting your own community, whether it's a business owner, a blogger, or just someone looking for a place to get by online. For example:
If you are a business owner, it can help you stand out among your competition and engage your target audience more.
If you are a blogger or influencer, you have the opportunity to reach a specific audience and create a dedicated readership.
Whatever the purpose of your community site, you can control its content and design, unlike a restrictive platform such as Facebook.
Of course, each community site has its own goals. Fortunately, WordPress allows you to design your own to meet the needs of your community with a number of useful plugins.
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How to develop your online community
We've chosen the five tools below, focusing on Ratings, Reviews, and Top Features. While this isn't an all-inclusive list, we believe these are the best choices to get you started on the right foot or help you expand your existing site. Let's go!
1 - BuddyPress
BuddyPress allows you to create a social media network for your colleagues, special interest group, family or anyone else. It offers a simple yet customizable platform to create and interact with your community.
With BuddyPress, members of your network can create personal profiles, connect with other users, and even create and interact in their own groups. You get all the benefits of your own social media platform, with no coding required.
The great thing about BuddyPress is that it's free, and there are plenty of other plugins that expand its functionality. for example User Blog gives members of the network the opportunity to contribute to blog posts, while Member Type give you control over the different groups and their abilities.
2 - User Submitted Posts
User Submitted Post allows you to turn your WordPress site into a multi-author blog. This is BuddyPress's similar User Blog, but with more features.
As a standalone plugin, User Submitted Articles are a great option for sites with content focus. Whether it's a hobby group, industry community, or special interest website, your users can be part of the community by offering their own vision and experience. Of course, this plugin gives you full control over approved posts. To activate these posts, simply copy and paste a shortcode on a page, post or widget.
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The plugin is free and includes a basic submission form and limited support. However, you can upgrade to 40 $, to have full support and additional options for customizing the submission form.
3 - Facebook Plugin Page
Facebook Page Plugin is a lightweight plugin that allows you to bring your active Facebook community - and all of its followers - to your WordPress site.
With the addition of a shortcode on a page, post, or widget, you can add your Facebook feed directly to your website. Even better, users can interact with your feed - like, share, and comment - all without leaving your site!
The simplicity and clean design of this plugin make it a great addition to any site. Plus, its easy-to-use dashboard makes customization easy. As with the other plugins mentioned on our list, Facebook Page Plugin is absolutely free.
4 - Simple MemberShip
Simple MemberShip is a plugin to create a member area on your website. You can easily create a member area for your community.
Whether you want to create a private site (allowing only authorized users to participate), or allow a variety of permissions at different levels of users, this plugin will allow you to get there. Simple MemberShip allows you to create paid and free subscriptions. With paid subscriptions, you will have the benefit of accepting recurring payments.
This plugin is free and based on the simplicity that also offers its various extensions.
5 - bbPress
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bbPress is a forum plugin that allows you to build a full forum on your WordPress site, and it's a great way to start a community on your blog. Since forums are an easy way to connect with like-minded people, it's a great plugin choice if you want your online community to get started quickly.
Moreover, this plugin is well designed for beginners and experienced forum moderators. With bbPress, you can configure and moderate your forums easily. Additionally, you can divide your site into sections, and even accept user-created content.
As open source software, bbPress is free to download and use. Additionally, there are many bbPress compatible plugins - such as Private Replies and Reviews (without spam) - which extend the functionality of the tool and improve its user experience.
That's it for this list of WordPress plugins that will allow you to create a community on WordPress.