As a flexible content management system, WordPress is an excellent place to build online communities. However, you may only be accustomed to using the platform for blogging and not sure how to best adapt it to a community website.

Fortunately, you can create almost any type of online community, thanks to various related plugins that seamlessly integrate with WordPress. There are some tools that can help you build fan sites, support networks, interest-based groups, and more.

In this article, we will first discuss why you might want to create an online community. Then we will focus on some of the best plugins and introduce their main functions. let’s start!

Why create an online community

Envato Forum

A forum is a good example of a community website, which enables users to gather together to discuss a niche topic.

Online communities (such as forums, social media networks, web pages, or membership sites) are platforms where like-minded individuals can gather together. These communities can be used for support, networking, or even just for fun.

There are many benefits to creating your own community, whether you are a business owner, a blogger, or just someone looking for a place to hang out online. E.g:

  • If you are a business owner, it can help you stand out from your competitors and attract your target audience more deeply.
  • If you are a blogger or influencer, you have the ability to reach a specific niche audience and build a dedicated readership.
  • No matter what the purpose of your community website is, you can control its content and design, which is different from restrictive platforms such as Facebook.

Of course, each community website has its own unique purpose and goals. Fortunately, WordPress can design your plugins to meet the needs of the community through many useful plugins.

We carefully selected the following five tools, focusing on ratings, reviews, and main features. Although it is not an all-encompassing list, we believe these are the best options to get you started right or to help you expand your existing website. Let’s jump in!

1. Buddy Publishing

Friends Publishing

BuddyPress enables you to create social media networks for your colleagues, special interest groups, family, or anyone else. It provides a simple but customizable platform for building and participating in your community.

Using BuddyPress, your network members can create personal profiles, connect with other users, and even create and interact in their own groups. You don’t need any coding to get all the benefits of your own dedicated social media platform.

The best thing about BuddyPress is that it is free, just like WordPress, you can download or purchase a large number of BuddyPress plugins for free to extend its core functions.

2. Posts submitted by users

User-submitted post plugin

User-submitted posts enable you to turn your WordPress site into a multi-author blog. This is similar to the BuddyPress compatible plugin user blog, but with more features.

As a standalone plugin, user-submitted posts are a good choice for content-focused websites. Whether you are running an interest group, industry community, or special interest website, your users can become part of the community by providing their own insights and experience. Of course, this plugin gives you full control over approved posts. To enable these posts, you just need to copy and paste the shortcode onto the page, post or widget.

The plugin is free and includes a basic submission form and limited support. However, you can upgrade to the premium version and get lifetime updates, full support, and other submission form customization options.

3. Mongoose page plugin

Mongoose page plugin

Mongoose Page Plugin is a lightweight feed plugin that allows you to bring an active Facebook community and all its followers to your WordPress site.

By adding a shortcode on a page, post, or widget, you can add your Facebook feed directly to your WordPress community website. Even better, users can interact with your feed without leaving your website-like, share, and comment!

The simple and clean design of this plugin makes it a great addition to any website. In addition, its easy-to-use dashboard makes customization easy. Like the other plugins mentioned in our list, Facebook Page Plugin is completely free to use.

4. Simple Membership

Simple membership plugin

Simple Membership is a lightweight, user-friendly and customizable website membership plugin. After installing this plugin, you can easily create a membership site for your online community.

Whether you want to build a more private website-allowing only approved members to participate-or provide different permissions for different membership levels, this plugin can do the job. Simple membership allows you to create unlimited subscription levels, including free and paid. With a paid subscription, you can get the additional benefit of accepting secure payments via PayPal.

This plug-in is free, because it focuses on simplicity, so no additional plug-ins or add-ons are provided. It is fully functional by itself, allowing you to get up and running immediately.

5. bbPress

bbPress plugin

The bbPress forum plugin enables you to create a fully functional forum on your WordPress site, which is a great way to start a conversation on your blog. Since forums are an easy way to connect with like-minded people, this is a great plugin choice if you want to quickly start your online community.

More importantly, this plugin is carefully designed for beginners and experienced forum moderators. With bbPress, you can easily set up and manage your forum. In addition, you can divide the site into multiple sections and even allow users to create content.

As open source software, bbPress can be downloaded and used for free.In addition, there are many plug-ins compatible with bbPress-for example Notification (no spam) – Extend the functionality of the tool and improve its user experience.

Whether you want to provide support, build a fan base, or provide a place for like-minded people to hang out, WordPress is a great platform for creating online communities. In fact, there are many plugins available for this purpose.

In this article, we introduced you to five community building plugins we recommend. Which of these community building plugins are you most interested in and why? Or if you have anything that should be added to the list, please let us know in the comments section below!