Social community sites come in all shapes and sizes. They can be public or private, based around a membership or just open for everyone. And the focus can range from crazy golf to professional networking and everything in-between!
WordPress is the ideal choice for building your own social network website or app.
It’s an extremely versatile Content Management System (CMS) - making up more than 60% of the overall CMS market share. WordPress offers a variety of powerful plugins and themes from companies all over the world, free and paid.
These plugins and themes are key in letting you create your very own social network or community website on WordPress.
Ready to start creating your social community? We've curated a list of the top 11 WordPress social community plugins and themes that you can use to help grow your website and engage with your users.
The Best WordPress Social Plugins
Because social networks have such a heavy communication component to them, you're going to need a community website platform that not only allows your users to login, but provides functionality for community members to talk with each other, to engage with various types of content, to join groups, and much more.
Luckily, there are a host of community plugins that you can install on your WordPress site to save you time and money developing the functionality yourself.
Let's take a look at some of the top community and social plugins for WordPress:
BuddyPress is the first of the WordPress community plugins that we need to address.
The cornerstone of community websites and social networks built with WordPress is BuddyPress. It's the ideal foundation for any kind of online community website you’d like to build.
You can think of BuddyPress as the most efficient way to build a social networking website, and it comes complete with an administration area that will let you manage your community website.
It includes tools for profile management, activity streams, post reactions and engagement, internal communication, and more.
There are 500+ plugins and themes that are built to work with BuddyPress. Start with this and you'll have lots of options for integrations and the ability to use complimentary plugins and themes along the way, which can help you continually improve your website.
When you want to open discussions between members in your network, a forum is the perfect place for them to make connections, seek support, and generally get involved with your business. bbPress is one of the most popular social plugins available for your WordPress site.
bbPress helps you create a WordPress forum or bulletin board to encourage discussion and communication between users on your website.
It's designed to run fast and be easy to use for site owners, which makes it an ideal plugin for quickly creating your forum.
If you want to ensure that your discussion board seamlessly fits into whichever theme you’ve chosen as well as the plugins you’re using to power the features of your site, you can feel confident that it'll be compatible with bbPress too, as it's compatible with over 200+ add-ons.
If you're looking for a powerful, all-in-one plugin to help you manage subscriptions for your membership website, MemberPress is for you.
MemberPress is ideal WordPress membership plugin if you want to sell online courses, create a members-only forum, and more. It will be suitable for websites that are just getting started and still figuring out exactly what features they need to include, and powerful enough for businesses that are further along. It's powerful and feature-rich.
It combines rich features such as the ability to accept payments, control which users see content, sell digital downloads, and more, with an easy to use user-interface and robust support system.
"MemberPress handles subscription payments, has a User Account Dashboard and a complete REST API -- plus it leverages the power & flexibility of WordPress.
MemberPress comes with all of this out of the box. That's why it's quite useful to those wanting to write an app but don't want to worry about re-inventing the wheel when implementing the payment and account pieces.
So, MemberPress is great for testing new businesses, MVP's and more. We have a growing number of customers who are using MemberPress in this way and are having great success."
- Blair Williams, MemberPress
MemberPress will work well with almost any WordPress theme too, so you can style your website however you want!
Price: Plans start at $129/year
Further reading: how to convert a MemberPress site to a native WordPress Membership App
JetEngine is an advanced solution to help you build a membership website from scratch. It's a great option to lay the foundation for multiple types of membership site.
You can set up multiple memberships, configure membership plans, create user profiles and edit their pages. Then, restrict access to the pages based on user role, add front-end forms for different purposes (submitting content, feedback, etc.), set up payment configurations, and manage content visibility.
This membership plugin for developers has full customization so that you can create a membership website using basic (custom post types, custom content types, taxonomies, etc.) and advanced features (dynamic visibility, REST API, Profile Builder, Query Builder, etc.
For example, SheSapiens created her membership and community website with the JetEngine plugin.
The JetEngine plugin works with the WordPress Gutenberg editor and Elementor page builder. Furthermore, a Bricks builder integration is on the way.
To sum up, this membership plugin is perfect for WordPress developers who want to create clients’ websites from scratch.
Price: Plans start at $43/year.
Nextend Social Login
There are many social media sharing plugins that also include WordPress social login capabilities. However, you might only need a plugin to manage this login component on its own.
If that’s the case, then Nextend Social Login and Registration is a beautiful choice.
This WordPress social login plugin gives your users the choice of logging in through Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. It's a lightweight plugin that keeps configuration simple, meaning you can spend more time on actually running your business.
“It's not easy to get more visitors and potential customers for your website, so I believe it's important to let them become a member of your website as fast as possible. Nextend Social Login is the easiest and simplest way to convert these visitors to members of your website.”
- Ramona, Nextend Social Login
Want to get started with it? Here’s what their team recommend:
“If you're still not convinced you need a social login plugin for your WordPress site, I recommend reading this blog post, which lists several reasons why having social login options for your users is essential for your website.
Price: Starting from $50
Another plugin that you might need for your WordPress community or forum is Content Censor. It's easy to set up and works out-of-the-box.
Depending on the type of website and user base you have, you might want to restrict certain content such as profanity from being posted in the forums. Having this automatically moderated is likely going to save you lots of time in the long run.
Price: $39 for a single site, other plans available.
If you want your community to grow quickly, friend referrals are one of the best marketing channels available to you.
Invite Anyone is a friend referral plugin that's ideal for your social network built with BuddyPress.
Social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more have had their growth heavily driven by friend referrals in this way. If you want your user base to grow organically without spending money on advertising, take their lead and lean on referrals.
The Best WordPress Community Themes
Your website will need a community theme that not only matches your brand, but that lets your users navigate and use your community website with ease.
Here are some of the best WordPress community themes you can use for your website:
BuddyApp by SeventhQueen is a flexible intranet/extranet theme for community websites.
With a mobile-first approach, this theme is an incredibly helpful tool when it comes time to turn your WordPress site into a mobile app too. It's optimized to function on all devices - which is important considering mobile apps account for 70% of social media usage time - which makes BuddyApp a great theme choice if you expect your users to access your site from their smartphones.
As well as this, you'll be able to manage your community site from both your desktop or mobile!
“BuddyApp theme brings a bold design to the table. You can easily create your intranet site and allow only registered users to access site content. It also allows you to have an open community or an awesome shop.”
- Gabriel, SeventhQueen
You can easily get started with BuddyApp documentation here.
Price: Starting from $39
KLEO is a WordPress theme that was built with BuddyPress communities in mind.
In 2018 it's the best-selling BuddyPress community theme, thanks to it's flexibility, great designs, and ease of use. It also works with bbPress forums and integrates with lots of other WordPress plugins!
In addition to including social networking, forum, and other community features, it also comes with functionality other business concepts would find useful.
You can easily enable features that will let you include features related fto eLearning, eCommerce, and business directory websites.
"KLEO incorporates all the tools you need to build a community, portfolio or shop. You can install a demo you like with a click of a button. Another great thing in KLEO is that it will work nicely with other Wordpress plugins you might need for your business. With over four years of existence, KLEO keeps getting better and better each day."
- Gabriel from SeventhQueen
Want to get started with KLEO? Check out their dedicated resources here.
Price: Starting from $59
Woffice is another of our recommended WordPress community themes. For those of you building an community website for professional purposes or educational environments, this is the theme to use. The reason for which is because of the features included in Woffice: project management, event scheduling, Slack integration, etc.
But, you don’t just want to hear it from me.
Baptiste Debever, Co-Founder of Alka-Web, the company behind Woffice explained why it’s an ideal theme for your new WordPress community website:
“Starting up a business is tough, and Woffice can help! Woffice offers the ability to create and host a community online in less than 10 minutes, completely personalized, self-hosted and branded."
And, he recommends reading this documentation when getting started with Woffice.
Price: Starting from $75
Socialize is a multipurpose theme that integrates both with BuddyPress and bbPress--two plugins essential to building out online communities.
What’s great about the Socialize plugin is the special attention paid to social integration. It has its very own social login feature, so it’s one less thing you have to worry about creating or installing for your social network.
Price: Starting from $59
Wrapping Up - The Best WordPress Community Plugins/Themes
A social community website can be a great addition to your existing brand's presence, or a great way to start a revenue generating online business.
One of the big reasons that WordPress is the most popular CMS worldwide is the selection of powerful plugins and themes on offer. And these WordPress community plugins and themes are perfectly suited to take your website to the next level in terms of both functionality and design.
Use these tools to build the foundation for your membership or community site. Then, when you want to take the next step, start looking at how you can build a membership app for your site.
A WordPress membership app will help you provide a superior user experience for your mobile users, who likely make up the majority of your user base today. Launching an app is much cheaper, faster and easier than you'd expect, too, when you use a service like MobiLoud Canvas.
Take our tips and recommendations on board and grow your community site into a thriving business.