How to add a social media component to your WordPress site with BuddyPress

If you’re looking to add a social component to your WordPress site, Jack Wallen is confident BuddyPress is the solution for you.

New York, USA - 9 April 2020: WordPress website on laptop screen close up. Man using service on display, blurry background, Illustrative Editorial
Image: Postmodern Studio/Adobe Stock

WordPress is used for a massive 43% of all websites on the planet. That’s a significant figure and one that most likely won’t budge for some time. Why? Because WordPress is not only incredibly easy to use but also very flexible. What was once nothing more than a blogging platform has become a framework to help you build just about any kind of site — from eCommerce to blogging to — well, you name it, and WordPress can do it.

SEE: 20 good habits network administrators need–and 10 habits to break (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Case in point: BuddyPress is a WordPress plugin that adds social media features to your site. This single, free plugin adds:

  • User profiles
  • Friending
  • Groups
  • Private messages
  • Activity streams
  • User blogs
  • Forum discussions

If you’re a business, BuddyPress could effectively turn a WordPress site into an internal social media platform that would allow team members to enjoy a place to connect, communicate and even collaborate. If you’re not within a business, BuddyPress could help you create your own social media site for fans of your work, friends or family.

So how do you get BuddyPress? I’m going to show you.

What you’ll need to install BuddyPress

The only things you’ll need to make this work is an updated, running instance of WordPress and an admin user for the site. That’s it: Let’s get to work.

How to install the BuddyPress plugin

Log in to your WordPress site as an admin user. Most likely the URL for the admin page is http://DOMAIN/wp-admin, where DOMAIN is either the DOMAIN or IP address of the hosting server.

Once you’ve logged in, click Plugins in the left navigation to expand the menu entry. You should then see Add New (Figure A).

Figure A

The expanded Plugins menu for WordPress.

Click Add New and, in the resulting window (Figure B), type BuddyPress in the search field.

Figure B

Searching for the BuddyPress plugin.

When the BuddyPress plugin appears, click Install Now (Figure C).

Figure C

Getting ready to install the BuddyPress plugin.

After the installation completes, click Activate Now to finish up.

How to configure BuddyPress

Click Plugins in the left navigation, locate the BuddyPress entry and click Settings to open the BuddyPress Settings page (Figure D).

Figure D

The BuddyPress Settings page.

Go through each tab and make any changes you want to BuddyPress. One thing to keep in mind is if you make any change within a tab, you must click Save Settings before moving on to another tab — otherwise your changes to the previous tab will be lost.

How to add BuddyPress elements to your site

Now that BuddyPress is installed, you then have to add widgets from the plugin to your site. Understand that how these widgets will look and function will depend on the theme you’ve chosen. If you find BuddyPress doesn’t work well with the theme you’ve applied, you might have to either find another or have one designed specifically for you.

With that said, expand the Appearance menu in the left navigation and click Widgets (Figure E).

Figure E

The Appearance menu expanded to reveal the Widgets entry.

Click + to the right of Widgets in the upper left corner and then scroll down until you see the BuddyPress entry (Figure F).

Figure F

The BuddyPress widget set.

Drag any of the widgets to any of the sections in the middle pane to add them to your site. Choose the widgets and their placement carefully. Once you’ve taken care of that, click Update in the upper right corner to save your changes.

If you find BuddyPress doesn’t seem to function as expected, that could be because of the theme you’ve chosen for your site. This may require you to search for a theme that is 100% compatible with the plugin. I’ve found some themes, such as Customizr, are not quite as compatible as they need to be. That means it’ll require a bit of trial and error to get it right.

This also means the bulk of your time spent setting up BuddyPress will be in the form of adding Widgets to your site and figuring out in which section they best fit and where they actually can function within your theme. However, if you’re looking to add a social media component to your WordPress site, BuddyPress is definitely worth the time you’ll invest.

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