In this article, you are going to learn about the ten best tools to grow an online community with WordPress. These are the perfect plugins to create an engaging forum where you can connect deeper with your customers.
Why You Need to Create an Online Community
Sometimes, having amazing content and a beautiful website is not enough to keep readers coming every day. Therefore, you need to engage them better so they are willing to spend more hours on your page.
One of the best ways to do that is to create an online community. By providing visitors with a place to give feedback and discuss with each other, they will feel cared for and listened to. That way, people will be more likely to return and trust you more.
That being said, there are other advantages of building an online community that you might not be aware of.
- It is profitable — you can sell your product to the online community or set up a paid membership program. Speaking of which, HostingWiki has a great article that specifically explains 7 best membership plugins for WordPress.
- It gives valuable insights — users’ opinions will help you improve your products and content. In fact, a recent study reports that 67% of surveyed companies create a branded community to gather new ideas and features.
- It improves brand image — By providing an online forum where customers can talk about your business, you will have better brand awareness and credibility.
With the tools that I am going to show you, growing an online community will be easy and fun!
Best WordPress Online Community Tools
Here is the list of WordPress online community plugins with great sets of features and ease of use.
BuddyPress is a widely used WordPress online community plugin that’s free and open source. It’s reliable and provides high-level customizations to create an amazing forum experience.
You can change many fields on the user profile, activity streams, and groups to make it suitable for your niche. What’s more, there are many extensions that you can use to complete the tool, like location sharing, social media integration, and so on.
To top it all off, BuddyPress also has an active discussion forum, where people can find information about third-party plugins and troubleshooting.
ARMember is the perfect tool if you want to make money out of your online community. It has many features to help you maintain a premium membership program, including multiple-payment cycles and methods, invoicing facility, and others.
Owners can also benefit from social media integration, free/trial options, and coupons.
ARMember has a free and a premium version for $43. The paid version gets you 6 months of customer support and plenty of extra features.
bbPress is a lightweight and fast WordPress online community plugin. It will be your best choice to build a simple forum that should be easy to moderate. That being said, you can still extend it via additional plugins and themes.
Furthermore, bbPress works really well with WordPress multisite. This allows you to run several forums — private or public — in a larger interconnected network. This plugin, along with most of the addons, is free.
4. Member Chimp
Member Chimp is an awesome community tool that’s popular because of its modern design and sophisticated features. You can start creating a web forum in a few clicks and edit some elements with its drag-and-drop capability.
With Member Chimp, you won’t disappoint your loyal customers. The user profile, dashboard, and member directories are sleek and customizable. Moreover, you also have the power to assign different roles to users, which gives them greater permission on the forum.
This tool costs $59 and $99 per year for single and unlimited sites respectively. However, there is a free version if you care to try Member Chimp minus some features.
Do you need a lightweight tool to establish a membership site? Simple Membership is the one to go for. There are not a lot of settings and all you need to do is configure the subscription levels and user permission.
The plugin supports several payment gateways, such as PayPal, Stripe, and Braintree. Also, you are able to send email activation to your free customers. What’s great, you don’t have to pay anything to use this plugin.
Mongoose Page Plugin is the most suitable tool for those who already have a strong Facebook community. It lets you integrate the existing page to your own website so you don’t need to start all over again. Sounds very convenient, right?
The members can upload normally on Facebook but the difference is, the feed will be displayed on either a post, a text widget or a page on your site. Best of all, you can download the Mongoose Page Plugin for free!
User Submitted Post enables you to turn your WordPress site into a community-driven platform. With this tool installed, users will have permission to post and upload pictures for everyone to see. But of course, you can evaluate the content first to see if it’s appropriate.
Furthermore, you are allowed to ask for some information from users before publishing the article, like email, name, post category, etc. This plugin will also use Google Captcha to prevent you from getting spam.
User Submitted Post is simple, easy to install, and most importantly, free.
9. Wise Chat
Wise Chat is a handy plugin for setting up a live chat on your site. It can be a standalone feature or a great addition to your blooming online community. Users can post real-time, candid feedback that makes your forum more active and engaging.
The chatroom itself is mobile responsive, spam-protected, and customizable. It supports file attachments, auto cleanup, and even YouTube Videos. For a free plugin, all the features really go beyond our expectations.
However, there is a $40 premium version which provides more exciting functions, like private one-on-one chat, custom emoticons, Facebook mode, avatars, and many more.
An online community can be beneficial for your business. Besides providing a place to engage with customers, it can also increase your profit and improve your brand image.
Thankfully, creating an online forum with WordPress is not that hard, given that there are many useful tools to help you with that.
So, let’s pick up one plugin and start growing your own branded community!