You’ve provided all the infrastructure for your WPMU or BuddyPress community, and now you want to generate interest and participation. The key to organically growing online communities is to enhance relationships. We’ve compiled a list of tips and tools to help you create the best environment for your WPMU community to thrive and multiply. All of the plugins featured in this post are fully WPMU compatible. If your community is lame, boring or failing to thrive, take a bit of medicine provided here and you’ll be off the ground in no time.
1. Feature Users and Their Work
Lend the spotlight to some of the best, most interactive members of your community. You might be surprised how much good press your community will receive from a featured user who is excited to spread the word about your site, simple because he is valued there. Other members will be inspired to beef up their participation to get noticed also.
Featured Member(s) Widget:
This is a BuddyPress plugin that will allow you to select members you’d like to feature. It’s easy to implement and customize with CSS.
Vote It Up:
Get users interacting and voting on each other’s posts. This tool helps if you are holding a contest or simply want to display the most voted for posts based on user interaction.
GD Star Rating:
This plugin allows you to implement star or thumb ratings on your pages, posts, and comments. It also comes with widgets for displaying the data.
2. Test the User Experience
It is virtually impossible to grow a strong community if the user experience is not smooth. Make sure your navigation is intuitive and that it’s easy to sign up and log in. Provide a quick, simple way for users to report bugs so that you can keep improving your community’s development.
WordPress MU Demo Data Creator
This plugin is extremely helpful for testing the user experience before launching your site. It allows you to create random demo data for users, blogs, categories, pages, comments, buddypress groups, friends, links, etc. , which would ordinarily eat up a lot of time with manual creation. You can quickly delete it all with one click when you’re finished. This plugin is a guaranteed time saver.
3. Find More Ways for Members to Connect
One great way to get the word spread about your community is to allow members to connect to their other social networks to share information they find on your WPMU site, as well as display information from their other networks with an API. Enhancing the avenues through which members can communicate will get them to connect more on your site. Provide ways for them to interact, such as group blogging or chatting with others online.
This plugin allows you to include Twitter in your BuddyPress wire.
BuddyPress Group Blog Plugin
his is an excellent way to get members of a group interacting with each other. The plugin extends the group function to include a single blog of which all of the group members are automatically added as authors.
Visitor Maps and Who’s Online Plugin
This sweet plugin works with WP, WPMU, and BuddyPress. It displays visitor maps with pinpointed locations of city and country so that your users can see the locations of people with whom they are interacting as well as who is presently online.
4. Personalize the Experience and Specialize the Content
Welcome Pack gets your users plugged in right away by sending them invitations to a specific group as well as friending them to a specific member. You can also personalize a custom welcome message for them.
Broadcast a post to one or more blogs on your WPMU installation. You can select which blogs you want to broadcast to based on which users you think would be most likely to be interested in your topic. This can be enabled on an individual blog basis or site-wide.
5. Stay in Touch
Stay in touch with your user base with tools that make it easy. Let them know what exciting things are happening on your site and make it easy to log in from both their computer and from their mobile device.
WordPress Courier makes it easy to customize email templates and send emails to your subscribers using the [courier] shortcode on your page. You may even import subscribers from College Publisher or Feedburner.
Wapple Architect Mobile Plugin for WordPress
This plugin gives you a mobile site that is tailored to any visiting mobile device with features such as dynamic image resizing, fully retained SEO, commenting, and much more. Wapple Architect is just one more way to keep your members interacting even while they’re away from their computers.
If you have a plugin that accomplishes any of these things, please link it in the comments. The ones listed here are all WPMU compatible and have been updated relatively recently. If your WPMU site is gathering dust, get some plugins today and start building a community that people love to belong to.