Many large websites today, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit are examples of a community website. Ideating, creating, setting up, marketing, and monitoring a community website is a herculean task, and you will need a team to manage all its aspects. However, if you’re just starting out, you can use the WordPress CMS to create a community website with a lot of pre-planning, effort and hard work.
Getting started with a community website and engaging with your target audience is not a part-time job. The advantages of building a community site can only be enjoyed with the passive engagement of both the user and the admin.
Before we start digging into the method for creating a successful community site, let’s understand why having a community website is beneficial.
Why build a community website?
Unlike other informational websites like a blog, a business site or an e-commerce site, community sites provide conversational information to its users. It allows visitors or users to communicate with each other and gain access to information and knowledge.
Community sites integrate many methods of user interaction and knowledge sharing. From private chats to content forums and from comments to inbound links, these sites incorporate everything that helps to build a strong user base. If you are a company or an organization, you can easily manage your customers, partners and employees by creating a community website.
Community sites help to target your members with relevant information that they are trying to find through your site. With the help of community sites, you can maintain a contact with your members, customers and partners via regular updates.
Why build a community site with WordPress?
WordPress is truly the globally favourite CMS to build websites. Around 25% of the Internet websites are powered by WordPress. Any site you would like to create is possible with WordPress. As such, it is also a preferred choice for a community website.
Using WordPress to build your community site is the easiest way possible. WordPress has quick and easy commenting and posting mechanism, with integrated safe and modern management technology for user accounts. WordPress also offers you multiple latest community plugins to add significant and complex functionalities to your community site.
Which community website type is the best for you?
The main reason for creating a community site is to develop a space for your users where they can connect easily and share knowledge. Before building a community site, it is important to know what type of community site will be beneficial for you. Mainly, there are three different types of community sites, and all of these can be created with WordPress. They are:
- Community Blogs
- Social networks
Each type of community has its purpose to serve, but eventually, they are all similar. The fundamental objective for all these community sites is to encourage interaction between users and eventually interact with your brand.
Every community has its way of generating interaction with your brand. Therefore, it is important to select the type of community carefully.
Here is a detailed description of each type of community site.
Being the most popular community site type, a forum serves multiple purposes at the same time. Whether you are a seller or a producer, the forum helps your members discuss anything and everything related to your product and services. This way your consumers and members do not have to rely on company support team to resolve petty issues.
Another interesting way of connecting users through an online platform is community blogs. Creating a blog requires a lot of work, time and effort, as you need to publish blog posts regularly. However, with community blogs, you can fill this gap through your users. Community blogs allow users to fill content and keep other users engaged with the site.
Social networks enable users to create their social profiles, develop friend lists and interact with each other via individual discussions or personal messages. Members of your social networking community can also build separate groups under the central community.
Best WordPress Plugins to Build a Community Website
The best way of creating powerful community sites on WordPress is by using a top-rated community plugin. Here are the top three plugins to build a community blog, forum or social networking site with WordPress:
bbPress is ideal for building forum community sites. This plugin is developed by WordPress’s in-house team “Automattic”. With bbPress, you can easily add a forum to your existing website by adding “participant” as WordPress’s new user role. Once you are done with “participant” addition, assign the members to the role to start topics on the forum.
BuddyPress is ideal for developing social networking sites. However, if you want to use this plugin as a forum software, you will have to add bbPress besides BuddyPress. With BuddyPress, your users can easily create their social profiles, build friend lists, form private groups and send private messages.
User Submitted Posts is one of the most powerful plugins created for community blogs. It allows the users of your community to post their blogs on your site via frontend. You just need to add shortcodes for forms to separate pages and post, which your members will use to post content.
What to do after installing a plugin?
Even after adding plugins to your site, there are a lot of things that you need to do manually to run a successful community site. If you are planning to start a forum site, you will have to choose which type of parent forums and child forums your site will have. Also, decide which niche, topics and categories you would like to introduce to your community site and assign them as a parent forum. If your forum is connected to a particular niche, your users will find it quite easy to indulge in the discussions they are interested in.
Create a sub topic or sub category for each main topic and category respectively. Assign these sub categories and topics as child forums for the parent forums and make sure all child forums are relevant to your primary niche.
Some of the most popular forum topics that you can add besides your primary niche are general discussions, off-topic, forum rules, forum information and introduce yourself.
Developing a successful community site with WordPress needs complete strategic planning. All of this start with understanding the need of the community for your brand or blog and the type of community. If you already have a running website with a good fan following, discuss with your site members how they want to interact with the brand or the site.