We live in an ever expanding world thanks to the glorious place we call the Internet, but there is one aspect of the web that has altered the playing field with how we share information and communicate with one another: Social Media.
The social media concept, or web 2.0, revolutionized how businesses and people convey information.
With the addition of smart devices, we can now use these services even faster. In the last decade, more people than ever before have integrated their business and personal profiles into the social media network, leading to a fast rate of discovery of information and being able to make your voice heard across the entire world.
Social media is a rather powerful tool to use in the arsenal of WordPress and its growing database of WordPress Plugins. Built into the core of WordPress.com, and as a functionality of the Jetpack Plugin, it will provide you with what you need and much more to integrate social media into your WordPress site.
In this case, social media can be used to make your WordPress site more interactive and be able to reach a greater audience.
There are many ways to incorporate social media into WordPress. This article will focus on two of the most powerful WordPress Plugins for social media for the self-hosted version of WordPress: Jetpack and BuddyPress WordPress Plugins.
Jetpack WordPress Plugin
Perhaps the most well recommended and “must have” Plugin for any self-hosted WordPress user, is indeed the Jetpack WordPress Plugin. It adds all of the functionality of a WordPress.com site without its limitations. All of your favorite basic and necessary features across the board in search engine optimization, social media integration, code management, and enhanced core functionality, all rolled into one robust Plugin.
Jetpack’s primary social media features include:
- Subscriptions: Jetpack offers email subscriptions for blog’s posts to let your readers subscribe easily. When a new post is published, an email is sent to the subscriber alerting them to new content on the site.
- Link Shortner: WP.me is a URL shortener similar to the bookmarking/URL shortener called Bit.ly. Its primary function is to make links customizable and easy to remember.
- Likes: Likes allow your viewers to present simple feedback of disliking or liking content with a simple thumb up or down button.
- Commenting System Integrated with Facebook: The Social networking enabled commenting system allows you to use your Facebook account for making comments and linking your name to the site.
- Gravatars: Hovercard popups for your commenters via Gravatar, display a miniturized version of your profile, much like a business card.
- Publicize: Social media integration and auto-posting functionality with all the popular social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and LinkedIn, allow you to easily connect.
- Mobile-friendly: A mobile theme that automatically streamlines your site for visitors on mobile devices; more platforms, bigger audience.
- Mobile App Notifications: Mobile push notifications for new comments via WordPress mobile apps, grant added functionality to the mobile platform, allowing you instant notification of any comments or social activity on your site.
- Google+ Author: Link Jetpack and your Google+ Profile to add multiple Google-powered features to your site.
With Jetpack’s Publicize and comment feature, integrating with the social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Path, and Google+ is incredibly simple, as it can now serve as your online identity when commenting on WordPress posts or sharing its content through social media.
If you go to Settings> Sharing on the WordPress.com Admin panels, you can view and edit the permissions for the social media entities.
BuddyPress WordPress Plugin is a multi-use, adaptable social media enhancing WordPress Plugin that takes your self-hosted site beyond the average site or blog with social-network features such as activity streams, user profiles, groups, and more. Think of it as a way to create a miniaturized social networking system confined to a corporate environment, a school campus, a niche fan-base of users, or even online subcultures.
The Plugins contained in BuddyPress are interchangeable with one another as well as your site theme and any other Plugins that are enabled. The webmaster is in total control of what features are used, or they can be filtered automatically.
BuddyPress features include the following:
- Customizable Member Account Settings:The features can be activated or disabled depending on your site’s objective.
- Extended Profiles: Add profiles for members of your site that are customized for your site.
- Friend Network Connections: create friends lists with other site members to share profile information and track information from each others’ profiles.
- Internal Messaging System: Members can message one another privately through the private message panel. New messages are alerted in the notifications panel.
- User Groups: create a cohesive environment and group your friends together by creating a public, private or hidden group channels. The admin has the ability to add or remove members.
- Notifications: the notifications panel shows new information updates and @mentions from other members.
- Blogs: A blog platform grants members the ability to have their own manageable blog. Members can track the activity of sitewide bloggers.
- Activity Stream: collect and record numerous activities with an RSS feed for either personal, group, or sitewide information. A threaded commenting and favoriting system adds to its functionality.
- Discussion Forums: with the bbPress plugin added, you can now create full-powered site or group Forums in your BuddyPress installation. The main admin can set up general site-wide forums and group admins can create their own group forums. Members have the ability to create new topics and post comments or questions to any public and group forums created.
Overall, BuddyPress can add the infrastructure of a social media network directly to your WordPress self-hosted site, without actually having to rely on the social media giants themselves. Whether managing an online subculture, or niche of passionate people, BuddyPress adds a whole new dimension to the list of social network tools in your WP arsenal.
What’s in Your WordPress Social Media Arsenal?
WordPress.com members and many self-hosted WordPress users have access to Jetpack features, but few take advantage of all of them, often overwhelmed by all the options. Take time today to set up your social media integration and features in Jetpack, and consider adding BuddyPress to your highly social site to turn it into a community.