Turn Your WordPress Blog into a Social Network

WordPress is a CMS that was built for blogging but many people have repurposed it for magazines, newspapers, blog networks and all sorts of other goodies! But did you know you can hack your WordPress blog to be a no-cost solution for a social network? Well you can, and here’s fifteen plug-ins that will let you do it.

1. WP-Gravatar
Install WP-Gravatar for adding ‘faces’ to your members and your writers. This plugin lets you use Gravatar, MyBlogLog, OpenAvatar, Wavatar, Identicon, monsterID or Favico.ico files with your comments. Gives you a Widget with your profile info and your gravatar. Let’s you set your own CSS style to use with the Comments section and the author about box.

2. Ajaxed WordPress
A highly customizable plugin to add AJAX to your blog. AWP uses AJAX to load posts inline, paginate posts, load and submit comments, and more. For that Web 2.0 look and feel.

3. Members Only
A WordPress plugin that allows you to make your WordPress blog only viewable to visitors that are logged in. This is good for protecting your user’s data and your blog content.

4. Profiles
Profiles allows the easy display and management of personal profiles / biographies, or any other similarly periodic information. In particular, it adds a “profiles” tab to the management section and allows you to easily edit information about the profiles as well as associate an image (with optional watermark) with each profile.

5. WP Super Cache
A very fast caching engine for WordPress that produces static html files. When your network does start to receive high levels of traffic, you’ll need this to prevent your site from going down.

6. Post-Plugin Library
Makes calling Similar posts, Recent Posts, Random Posts and Recent Comments easier.

7. Exec PHP
This plug-in is a godsend! It allows you to add PHP markup to wordpress pages and posts. This will give you even greater control over how wordpress looks and acts, allowing you customize with no restriction.

8. Quick SMS
This will allow visitors to send SMS messages to blog owners. It would be ideal for a WordPressMU network as it would allow everyone to stay in constant contact with each other. Could also be hacked to create a “twitter”-like service for all members.

9. UMapper
UMapper plugin is universal mapping platform, which makes it a snap to create engaging maps and add them to your blog posts. Microsoft Virtual Earth, Google Maps, OpenStreet – all are supported by this truly universal (hence the name UMapper – Universal Mapper) plugin.

10. Invite Friends
This plugins main goal was to provide the ability to any of your registered users, to invite more people to the community.

11. NextGen Gallery
Very customizable Gallery option for WordPress. Turn your blog into a mini ‘Flickr’!

12. Popup Scheduler
If used correctly, a popup is always the best way to achieve great results (be it in sales or subscription rate). It is also the best tool to grab your readers attention. This plugin allow you to customize and schedule a popup to show according to various situation. 1) You can schedule a popup to show a welcome message whenever a new visitor arrives at your site 2) You can schedule a popup to show on the readers returned visit to thank them for reading your blog and invite them to subscribe to your feed/email update. 3) If there is any major changes to your website, you can show a popup to inform your readers of the changes 4) If you are selling products on your blog, you can schedule a popup whenever you have a new product launch 5) During a campaign (such as charity donation drive, blogathon etc), you can schedule a popup to show for a number of days to increase the awareness of the campaign. and many more…

Sabre is an acronym for Simple Anti Bot Registration Engine. It’s a set of counter measures against spam registration on your blog.

14. Dashboard Editor
This plugin allows you to add whatever you want to the WordPress dashboard through PHP and HTML even Sidebar Widgets. You can also wipe the entire dashboard or individually remove some of the more irritating sections like the Dev news, Planet WordPress and the getting started section. This allows for the creation of custom designs for the back end to hide the fact that you’re even using WordPress!

15. SezWho
SezWho is a distributed context, rating and reputation system for social media sites like blogs, forums, wikis, video/picture sharing sites, discussion boards and anywhere else where people collaborate on the web.

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