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To once again demonstrate the versatility of WordPress, this post will be showing you how to create a social networking site using WordPress and the BuddyPress plugin. This is what the BuddyPress site has to say :

Social networking in a box. Build a social network for your company, school, sports team or niche community all based on the power and flexibility of WordPress. BuddyPress is completely free and open source. Unlike hosted services, BuddyPress allows you to stay in control of your site and create a totally customized, unique experience.

BuddyPress adds a lot of new features to your site that you will find at most social networking sites:

  • Activity Streams: Global, personal and group activity streams with threaded commenting, direct posting, favoriting and @mentions. All with full RSS feed and email notification support.
  • Extended Profiles: Fully editable profile fields allow you to define the fields users can fill in to describe themselves. Tailor profile fields to suit your audience.
  • Friend Connections: Let your users make connections so they can track the activity of others, or filter on only those users they care about the most.
  • Private Messaging: Private messaging will allow your users to talk to each other directly, and in private. Not just limited to one on one discussions, your users can send messages to multiple recipients.
  • Blogging: Start a blog built on the best blogging software in the world. Even allow each of your users to start their own full powered WordPress blog. Track new posts and comments across your site.
  • Extensible Groups: Powerful public, private or hidden groups allow your users to break the discussion down into specific topics. Extend groups with your own custom features using the group extension API.
  • Discussion Forums: Full powered discussion forums built directly into groups allow for more conventional in-depth conversations.

View a working demo of the plugin here.

Installing the Plugin

The easiest way to install BuddyPress is to start with a fresh installation of WordPress and use the base theme that comes with the plugin and customise it by adding a child theme. You can however, add BuddyPress to an existing site with your own theme by using the BuddyPress template pack. This guide will cover setting it up with a fresh installation of WordPress.

Once you have installed WordPress, login to the admin panel and go to “Plugins” > “Add New”, enter “BuddyPress” in the search box and click “Search Plugins”. Click “Install Now” next to the BuddyPress plugin.

On the next screen, enter your FTP details and click “Proceed” and the plugin will begin to download the plugin, once its done click link “Activate Plugin”.

The next thing to do is activate the default theme, go to “Appearance” > “Themes” and activate the BuddyPress default theme.

Configuring the Plugin

After the plugin and theme are activated, you will  now see a new menu option in your WordPress admin, called “BuddyPress” it contains 4 options: General Settings, Component Setup, Forums Setup and Profile Field Setup. I will now guide you through these options.

General Settings

This is where you can configure the main settings for your site, you dont have to change anything here, I left everything as the defaults.

  • Base profile group name: This used to be displayed on member profiles but is now hidden, can leave this as is.
  • Full Name field name: The member’s full name is displayed with this label.
  • Disable BuddyPress to WordPress profile syncing?: Leave this as no, it will synch profiles between the BuddyPress plugin and WordPress members.
  • Hide admin bar for logged out users?: Leave this as yes, no need to show the top admin bar for guests.
  • Disable avatar uploads? (Gravatars will still work): Leave this as no unless you dont want people to be able to upload their own avatars.
  • Disable user account deletion?: Allow users to delete their own accounts.
  • Disable global forum directory?: Decide whether to show a forum directory on your site.
  • Disable activity stream commenting on blog and forum posts?: Choose whether to let people comment on forum and blog posts directly from the activity stream.
  • Default User Avatar: Choose which style of gravatars you would like as a default for your site.

Component Setup

The next section is “Component Setup”, this is where you can choose which parts of the BuddyPress plugin you’d like to use on your site. You can enable or disable the following:

  • Activity Streams: Allow users to post activity updates and track all activity across the entire site.
  • bbPress Forums: Activates bbPress forum support within BuddyPress groups or any other custom component.
  • Friends: Allows the creation of friend connections between users.
  • Groups: Let users create, join and participate in groups.
  • Private Messaging: Let users send private messages to one another. Site admins can also send site-wide notices.
  • Extended Profiles: Activates customizable profiles and avatars for site users.

Forums Setup

If you want enabled the forums component in the previous settings, then you will need to set it up here. Click “Setup a new bbPress Installation”. Depending on your installations file permissions, you may get the following screen :

If you do, just copy and paste all the text shown into a new text file and save as bb-config.php, then upload this to the root of your WordPress installation via FTP. Your forums will now be installed.

Profile Field Setup

This section will be unique for your site, depending on what niche it is in or who you are targetting with your social network. It allows you to add as many custom fields for your member’s profile page. For example, if your network is aimed at web designers you could enter custom fields for: Job Title, Porfolio URL, About Me, Favourite Websites, Linkedin URL etc.

By default, BuddyPress only one profile field for “Name” in the top group – anything in the top group are added to the signup page.

Click on “Add New Field” and we will setup a custom profile field. For this guide, Ihave chosen to enter a field for a Linkedin profile, you could also use a Facebook url, Twitter url and so on. Enter a title for this field and a short description. Then choose if this should be a required field or not and finally choose which format that field should be. I have chosen text box as it is a one line url. You have the choice here to use a multi-line text box, drop down, check boxes etc.

Repeat this step and add it as many extra fields as you think your site requires.


You now have a working installation of BuddyPress, if you head over to the site you will find a number of themes and plugins made specially for BuddyPress. I will go into these in detail in future posts.

I really like BuddyPress, its really easy to install and configure and provides a social network with all the main features required and is easily extendable because its based on WordPress you have all the plugins for WordPress available to you, to add on to your site.

If you create a BuddyPress site or have any questions about this plugin, please leave your comments below …

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Oliver Dale is the founder of Kooc Media, a small internet company based in the UK. Kooc Media runs several high-profile websites including WPLift, ThemeFurnace and DesignersTalk.

Leave Yours +


  1. Jan_11

    Thanks for this, BuddyPress looks like an amazing plugin to create a Social Network

  2. Yoda

    I want the biographical info to be synced. I enter the same heading under the buddypress profile but it doesn’t get synced with the wordpress profile. The username, password, email, etc do get synced.

  3. maskedmagic.com

    I have just started with Buddypress so my site is still empty but hopefully I will get along well with it.

  4. Hassan

    buddy press is gr8 work in the world of wordpress

  5. Jelle

    Is it also possible to import the linkedin profile to buddypress?

  6. G_zab_g

    my name zohaib . my site is http://www.dailytime.info 
    i like is wordprees .

  7. How you added  to posts to header search bar??:/:/ I couldn’t..

  8. unirvrsl

    when users create a profile, can the profile be found from a search of a specific field of data from their profile, for example lets say high schools in 60647 zip code?  Will it find all profiles within that search?  TY

  9. Jbdurand

    I’m a Buddypress user and I am waiting to see if BP 1.5 is going to solve the VERY IMPORTANT PROBLEM of PRIVACY that I have.
    I want the members of my BP site (The Club) to each have a (uniform themed) private blog that could be read only by the people they accept.
    private blog readers should be following these requirements:
    - facebook friend or member of a facebook group of friend or google plus specific circle member
    - any user invited or accepted by request by the bloggerPLUS Each posts from different blogs should be readable ONLY by users if they have been previously selected to access specific post categoriesexemple:
    I have a baby and I want to show the photos to my family and my very close friends only
    I write a blog post on my personal blog
    I select the post categories : “family only” + “personal life”
    people that are :
    a) allowed to access my blog
    b) allowed to access my categorised posts ( “family only” + “personal life”) will see it.I will end up telling you that all this should be done in the front end (dashboard is not for grandmothers),
    I currently generate the blogs post by gravity forms (dashboard is not for parents writing posts about their baby)
    goal: 3 clics and no spam.Maybe you have some clues for this… BP Plugins, BP special Child themes?Thanks by advance

  10. Thera are not photo/video galleries?

  11. Tomcat_meow

    I’ve been using bp for a few months now and find one problem I’m having is people joining up and creating a group with info and links just to get links to promote their own site.  Is there a way of having to approve via administrator a group before it can go live?

  12.  This is an excellent information over here. You have provided very valuable and useful information in this post.

  13. Chiragkalani

    Thanks a lot..for this post……nice information

  14. Great post. I found what I was looking for. Do you mind if I post this on my website and give you credit? If not, it’s ok.

  15. Jay13213

    yea really good article
    here’s few other tools if you interested in social network engines

  16. Info

    Hi I have a problem, after install don´t shows buddypress adminbar on site (option is checked in user profile)
    Somebody can help me, please?
    Many thanks

  17. Aberlebass

     Nice job, it’s a great post. The info is good to know!

  18. Anonymous

    Really!! This is excellent information….I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work.

  19. I am trying to setup BuddyPress on my site but it is hard. I cannot get it to work properly & help & support are limited (through http://buddypress.org/community/groups/how-to-and-troubleshooting/forum/topic/feedback-and-help-on-my-bp-site/ support forums & elsewhere).

  20. 1dubsteppin4

    has anyone found a solution as to why new users are not getting a confirmation link in their email after signing up? I havent found it anywhere please help!

  21. Thank you, this is a nice and detailed guide.

  22. BuddyPress and Mingle both are great for work.

  23. Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I’d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

  24. que bien articulo, visita Wanvy! para mas sobre redes sociales.

  25. Great wordpress plugin, thank you

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