These days, the power of SEO, building brand recognition and increasing marketing effectiveness depends in a large part on community. Businesses of any size need their targeted consumer base and members of the public to interact with them, believe in them and get active in writing reviews and referring friends. One excellent way to encourage this interaction is by building a community website on the WordPress (WP) platform. With quality WordPress website hosting, the right plugins and site structure, it is possible to gather motivated fans and buyers together to build a true beneficial community.
What Type of Community Should You Build?
Just as there are many different types of companies and marketing strategies, there are many different type of online communities as well. The most basic is probably a blog with commenting capabilities, which is the basis for many WP sites. People can interact with site owners and each other on a limited basis but have no real control over these interactions.
When web developers or marketers speak about community building, they frequently mean forums, message boards, public chat rooms or social media style pages. Any of these can be public or private depending on the company’s particular goals.
Why Choose WordPress for a Community Site
WordPress is by far the most popular content management system (CMS) and website builder on the Internet today. With its security features, user-friendly interface and nearly 45,000 plugins, it provides an excellent platform for all types of websites both private and professional.
When it comes to building an online community, WordPress straight out of the box may not be the best choice. It has blog and comment capabilities, of course, but no built-in option for social media or message boards.
The plugins is where WordPress rises above other options. Nothing integrates a community page with an entire multi-feature business website better than WordPress.
Use Proper PlugIns to Make Community Building Easier
The plugins you use depend on what type of community you want to build. There are so many available for both free and at premium prices that the final decision may take considerable research if your company needs something very specific. If a message board, social media page or private membership site is your goal, the web is full of recommendations.
Message Boards and Forums for WordPress
One of the simplest ways to build a community website is through the formation of a forum or message board. On these, people post topics or questions to discuss and other people can comment, reply and answer as they see fit. These are usually moderated to prevent spam and other problems.
Popular WordPress plug-ins for message boards and forums include: BBPress, BuddyPress and Groups Forum Plugin.
Public or Private Chat Rooms for WordPress
Active chat rooms can be a great way to build a community on your WordPress site, but they do require moderation to make sure it doesn’t turn into an off-topic free-for-all. Holding scheduled and structure online discussions or classes with a chat plug-in can be a great way to encourage community building.
Popular WordPress plug-ins for chat room capabilities include: Chat by Flyzoo, iFlyChat and Wise Chat.
WordPress Social Media Pages
Internal social media pages for a particular WordPress site allows members who sign up to post their own thoughts, “like” others’ posts and engage in comment conversations. They are structured in much the same way as Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, but focus primarily on the particular company, niche or industry at hand.
Popular WordPress plugins for social media pages include: BuddyPress, WP Mingle and WP Symposium.
Private Membership Communities
Operating a private membership section of a WordPress website requires databases to securely manage user information, payment processing if you wish to charge money for it and also the development of private content pages.
Popular WordPress plug-ins for private free or paid membership sites include: Paid Membership Pro, Simple Membership and Users Ultra Membership Plug-in.
Professional WordPress website hosting allows businesses of any size to create a community of people interested about their niche or industry. Not only does this help the company market more efficiently to an existing, highly-targeted consumer base, but it also increases the perceived expertise and trustworthiness of the company and its owners in general. When it comes to building profits or expanding reach, nothing beats direct interaction with people who you can forge a mutually-beneficial, long-term relationship with on a WordPress community site.