Add a Community to Your Event Website with WordPress
This post looks at how to add a community to a WordPress based event website at no cost.
I talked in the past how WordPress is an excellent solution for event websites. I’ve also presented 20 great options for making it look great.
Now the time to introduce you to an often overlooked hidden gem of WordPress:
BuddyPress is a complete, free and open source WordPress plugin to create a custom community to your Website.
BuddyPress has been around for few years now, precisely since 2008. The community around BuddyPress is extremely vibrant and active. There are a number of BuddyPress extensions developers have created to further customize functions and look of your community.
I’ve used BuddyPress on several projects and its simplicity strikes me.
Why Should You Use BuddyPress?
Standalone communities have been one of the most succulent targets of social media sharks. A number of products have been created that really sell fresh air. Companies and agencies asked for enormous budgets to create what is readily available for free.
Sounds Good but What about Support?
If you are a self learner, entrepreneurial type of planner, you can find most of the answers to your issues on Google and on the official support forums.
If you are prepared to allocate a minimum budget there are great premium solutions such as BuddyDress (affiliate link, I love them), offering Themes and Support and starting from $26 per month.
If you work with a web design agency or better you have a web designer in house, this should not be an issue for them to play with. I would also suggest to select the web design people you work with on the basis of their WordPress portfolio. If in fact they build your event website using WordPress, you will be able to control most of it independently and most of all, you will own your website – the beauty of open source software vs proprietary solutions.
OK Julius, I’m Sold, Where Do I Start?
Well I assume you’ve done your research about WordPress for Events, you picked up a theme and populated the website with great content.
1. Install WordPress and BuddyPress
This is a fantastic tutorial that shows you how to install WordPress first and then activate Buddypress. It is actually a lecture style tutorial with good questions as well. Have a look:
2. Private or Public?
Is your community going to be private or public?
Public communities next to your event help you to further spread content around the event. They also boost search marketing opportunities.
Private communities on the other hand can be offered to attendees as an exclusive club to hang around and network online.
BuddyPress is public by default. To make it private, it is as easy as installing this plugin.
3. Sync with Facebook
One of the most annoying bits for your attendees is to sign up to yet another community. Another profile to complete, another network of contacts to build from scratch. Boring!
I strongly believe every community should be fully integrated with Facebook for 3 main reasons:
- To ease registration process
- To obtain data you will later use in your marketing
- To share activity on your community to the user Facebook wall thus enabling viral opportunities.
There are a number of plugins to enable Facebook on WordPress and Buddypress – here is one that will sync a number of social networks
4. Did Anyone say Forum?
Having a forum may be the easiest way to stimulate conversations. BuddyPress integrates extremely well with phpBB one of the most popular bulletin board solutions.
This is even simpler as it is already built in BuddyPress, no plugins to download. Just activate the component.
BuddyPress works very well with famous WordPress plugins that optimize your content for search. There are also BuddyPress specific SEO plugins to make sure each and every part of your community indexes properly.
Let me know what your experience with BuddyPress has been – if you have any questions, please comment.