20 Effortless Ways to Build a Sharing and Caring WordPress Multisite Community

Sharing is caring, as they say, and this especially rings true if you run a community of users on a Multisite network.

Adding the capability for users to share posts, images, links, site activity and more can help your users connect with each other and build a sense of, well, connectedness. What better way to bond than through the sharing of funny cat memes in status updates and private messages about cats (of course)?

Helping like-minded members of your site to make friends and share what they care about isn’t just heartwarming, it makes good business sense – it will help drive genuine user engagement and create a strong emotional connection with your site that your competition won’t be able to match.

For this Weekend WordPress Project I’ve put together a collection of our best plugins that you can activate right away to add sharing capabilities to your site, from sharing blog posts to displaying the most recent comments across your network and sending friend requests.

  • Recent Global Posts Feed

    Recent Global Posts Feed plugin

    Recent Global Posts Feed works win tandem with our Post Indexer plugin to create an RSS feed of all the blogs in your network. It also comes with a widget to display the posts prominently in your sidebar while also including an option to place a subscribe button on your site as well.

    It’s easy to install and configure and displays the feed on the main site by default. If you would like it to appear on all sites in your network, there’s an easy-peasy line of code you can add and voilà, you’re done.

    If you want your recent posts list to appear anywhere on your site, take a look at our Custom Sidebars Pro plugin to do the job.

  • Recent Network Posts

    Recent Network Posts plugin

    With the help of our Post Indexer plugin, you can forget about showing a list of your network’s recent posts only in your sidebar. The Recent Network Posts plugin lets you display them anywhere on your main site, whether on pages, posts, sidebar, footer or anywhere else you would like.

    It’s easy to install and displays a nice list with different parameters using a shortcode. You can choose to display user avatars, post titles and excerpts in any combination and with a little CSS magic, you can style the list to fit your theme perfectly.

  • Recent Global Posts

    Recent Global Posts Widget

    If you’re much happier with the idea of displaying your network’s recent posts in your sidebar, but need more flexibility, the Recent Global Posts widget is a great option to check out. It also uses our Post Indexer plugin as the framework to display the posts list on your site with a widget.

    It’s easy to install and customize. This widget makes it easy to display post titles, excerpts and avatars in any combination while being able to adjust their sizes or character limits.

    You’re also not limited to displaying the posts feed on your main site. With a simple addition of one line to your wp-config.php file, the feed will be displayed on all sites across your network. It’s easy as pie and displays posts elegantly with its simple and efficient styling.

    If you’re eager to expand to other parts of your site outside your sidebar, we won’t disappoint you. With our Custom Sidebars Pro plugin, you’ll be able to add this widget just about anywhere on your site. It’s as easy as dragging and dropping the widget into the new sections you can create on your site in just a few clicks.

  • Recent Custom Posts

    Recent Custom Posts widget

    If you’re thinking: “But wait! I have custom post types that I want to display in the list of my network’s recent posts. What do I do?”

    Have no fear, the Recent Custom Posts widget is here. Once you complete the piece of cake installation, you can display your custom posts in style.

    The are many configurable options from choosing the post types, even including core posts, page and attachment types and also the option to display thumbnails as well. You can also choose the order you would like posts to appear, and omit or display the post dates if you would like.

    You aren’t limited to how the list appears on the page, either. There is a field in the widget to add classes if you would like to customize the plugin further with your own CSS.

    If you add our Custom Sidebars Pro plugin into the mix, you can also add your widget anywhere on your site such as in posts, pages the footer or virtually anywhere else.

  • Live Stream Widget

    Live Stream Widget

    If you want to stay current with the latest trends while showing a list of the most recent posts in your network, then it’s worth checking out the Live Stream Widget. It displays recent posts with CSS animations to display posts live as your users roll them out.

    That’s not all, though. You can also display recent activity including comments and BuddyPress activity. You can choose the width and height of the live stream along the height, width, title and how many posts or activity to display at one time.

    You can even choose whether to display content from your main site, your network or both. If you pair it with the Custom Sidebars plugin, you can display your live stream just about anywhere on your site as well.

    It’s an easy widget to install, set up and configure. To run this widget, you also need to install the Post Indexer and Comment Indexer plugins for Multisite installations.

  • Global Author Posts Feed

    Global Author Posts Feed plugin

    If you need to create a simple RSS feed of a single user with all their activity across their entire network, this plugin can make it happen.

    It works best when paired with another plugin such as an RSS feed reader or widget that displays feeds. It may also be important for you to note that in order for Global Author Posts Feed to work, you also need to install the Post Indexer plugin. The good news is that both of these are super easy to install.

  • Global Site Search

    Global Site Search plugin

    This plugin adds a power search feature to your site. No, it doesn’t only work on your main site. Instead, it works across your entire network for all public sites.

    It also finds results incredibly quickly thanks to the Post Indexer plugin that works together with Global Site Search. Installation and setup are easy and search results are shown superbly with no extra CSS styling adjustments needed.

  • Global Site Tags

    Global Site Tags plugin

    This plugin shows a tag cloud of the most popular tags being used by your entire network with the help of the Post Indexer plugin.

    The more popular a tag is, the larger the font appears in order to show what’s trending in an eye-catching manner. When a tag is clicked, a list of the posts using the selected tag in your network appears with splendid styling.

    It’s easy to install and is highly customizable. It works with your site’s stylesheet to create a tag cloud that matches your design and can be further customized in the settings if you feel it needs a little boost.

  • Recent Comments

    Recent Comments plugin

    Once you install Recent Comments after adding the base Comment Indexer plugin, you can display comments from your entire network on your main site.

    The plugin installs like most others, but requires you to add one line of PHP code to any of the files where you would like the stream to be displayed. You can add it to your sidebar, any page, your footer, to posts or where ever else you would prefer.

    It’s a great option for enticing your user to engage in your site and discover content and authors across your network without infringing on the creativity and design of your users’ own sites.

  • Recent Comments Widget

    Recent Comments Widget

    Speaking of which, if you would prefer to help connect your entire network, there’s an option for that, too. The Recent Comment Widget works by displaying a list of your network’s most recent comments across every site in your community with a teeny-tiny edit to one of the plugin’s files.

    You can also leave the plugin as is to show the comments on just your main site. Either way, this widget makes it easy to add a comments stream to your main site or across all the sites in your network.

    All it takes is dragging and dropping the widget to the location you would like it to appear under Appearance > Widgets in your admin dashboard. You can also use the Custom Sidebars Pro plugin to increase the functionality of this widget, helping you to add the comments feed to any page, post or area of your site.

    Besides the minor edit to increase the flexibility of this plugin, it’s otherwise easy to install and the widget’s settings are straight forward and quick to set up. It also uses the Comment Indexer plugin as a foundation to make for a powerful widget.

  • Friends

    Friends plugin

    If you are keen to add some social media-like features to your network, the Friends plugin can help with that. It adds the functionality of letting your users send each other friend requests that can be approved or rejected.

    It can also add a friends list to your users sidebars and includes a search feature to make it easier for your members to find each other. You won’t even need BuddyPress to get all these cool features.

    It’s a piece of cake to install and works straight out of the box. It also works really well with many of our other plugins coming up on this list such as the Avatars, Private Messaging, Members Directory, Status and Reader plugins.

  • Members Directory

    Members Directory plugin

    Members Directory displays a list of all the members of your Multisite network which can help your users stay connected, especially when paired with other plugins on this list. It also has the added functionality of showing a member’s complete profile when their username is selected from the list.

    Detailed information can also be added to the profiles including their friends from your network and a list of their posts, and comments. If these features interest you, installing the Friends, Post Indexer and Comment Indexer plugins, respectively, will help you achieve this setup.

    Once you install this plugin, it works straight out of the box and doesn’t need any additional configuration unless you would like to make some optional customizations. You can change the settings to suit your needs by visiting the Network Admin > Network Settings page once the plugin is installed.

  • Status

    Status plugin

    The Status plugin adds the functionality of sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Once installed, users can create quick posts in the front or backend and post images, text, links and videos.

    It’s a highly customizable plugin that also gives your users the option to edit the title and descriptions of the links they wish to post since a preview is instantly generated before the publish their status update. The settings can be configured to adjust the styling of statuses so they all fit with your network’s look and feel.

    Better yet, you don’t even need BuddyPress installed. The Status plugin is also as easy to install and activate as most other plugins so you can quickly add this feature and help boost user engagement in just a few clicks.

  • Mass Email Sender

    Mass Email Sender plugin

    This is a handy plugin many Multisites can benefit from since it enables the network admin to send emails to all registered users. You can update your users, send them reminders, announcements and just about anything else you would like.

    It’s super easy to install and requires zero configuration. Just write your email and click send. It really is that easy.

  • Avatars

    Avatars plugin

    Yes, you guess it – this plugin gives your users the options to add their own avatars right on your site. It’s amazing how images can help create a real connection among members without have to go anywhere and the Avatars plugin helps make that happen.

    It’s a piece of cake to install and doesn’t require any extra configuring. Once it’s activated, you’re good to go. Your users will be able to seamlessly upload and crop their avatars without disrupting the natural flow of WordPress.

    You can also pair this plugin with others on this list such as Members Directory, Friends, Status, Recent Comments WidgetGlobal Recent Posts and many others to really get the most use out user profile images.

  • Blogs Directory

    Blogs Directory plugin

    Blogs Directory adds a great looking list of all the sites in your network making it a great addition to other plugins on this list like Friends and Avatars and Members Directory – to name only a few.

    It’s simple and quick to install and the many settings are completely optional since this plugin runs well right out of the box. This is especially true when you consider how it works together with your theme to fit the style and design of your blog.

  • Users Widget

    Users Widget

    This widget lists the users in your network in your main site’s sidebar. That doesn’t mean you can’t add this to all the sites in your network, though, since editing a single line of code will include this feature.

    It’s otherwise as easy to install and use as most other widgets. You can also choose to display user profile images which means this widget works great with our Avatars plugin. You can also configure other options such as the number of users to list, the size of the avatars, the title and which users to display including the most recent users or random ones.

    You can use this widget with and of the other widgets or plugins on this list for even more features. If you also add the Custom Sidebar Pro plugin, you can add this widget to any part of your site including posts and pages.

  • Site Categories

    Site Categories plugin

    With the Site Categories plugin, you can easily organize all the sites in your network into categories just like you would for posts. In fact, it integrates seamlessly with the WordPress core to provide you the same easy setup and configuration you know and love.

    It also makes this a wonderful plugin to use with Blogs Directory and any of the other plugins and widgets on this list while we’re at it. It has a quick and easy installation process and no settings to worry about.

    You can start organizing your network right away. Your users can search for and discover new sites easily, too, which is an added bonus.

  • Private Messaging

    Private Messaging plugin

    This plugin is easily one of my most favorite in this list because it builds upon the Messaging plugin. Instead of only letting network users privately message each other internally through the back end of their site, Private Messaging lets you move this feature to the front end.

    Your members will be able to send email-like messages through your site and you won’t even have to install BuddyPress. How awesome is that?

    With this plugin, you can even display inline pop-ups with new incoming messages as they are sent to help your members stay in touch that much easier. It’s also fully responsive so you don’t have to worry about editing anything to work across all devices.

    Users can also send files and start group conversations or broadcast messages to the entire network. It’s all configurable so you can easily pick and choose the features you would like to use as they relate to your specific needs.

    There are also privacy settings so users can create a list of other users to block so that they can stop receiving new messages from them. Your Multisite will really start feeling like a social network once you add this to your list of activated plugins.

  • Reader

    Reader plugin

    This plugin is another one of my clear favorites because Reader lets your users follow other sites in your network. Your users won’t have a need for RSS feed readers since this plugin builds it right into your site.

    Whether you’re a network of blogs, a social networking site, an online shop like Etsy or an eclectic mix of these, most communities can benefit from this feature. If you’re a web designer with many clients’ sites that you manage with Multisite, this is also a great feature to let your clients choose for their site.

    This plugin also creates an elegant and gorgeous feed in your users’ back end filled with the latest posts of the other sites they follow. It’s an easy plugin to install and comes with a whole host of customization options to adjust this plugin to your specific needs.

    There’s also a search feature included along with the ability to set featured posts, display additional user information and a lot more. It’s certainly a great plugin to increase the connectedness of your online network and community.

Conclusion

You’re all set and ready to get started with beefing up your network.

Use one of these plugins or use them all. Either way you can add a huge boost to your network and help your users better connect with you, your business and each other.

It doesn’t have to stop here, either. We have a large selection of over 140 plugins and themes to help you meet even your most ambitious goals. They’re all packed with features, expertly coded, consistently updated, guaranteed to work and come with top-notch support in case you run into problems.

What are your favorite features you want to achieve? Did I miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.