Mini social network faceoff: BuddyPress vs. Ning

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Photo courtesy Bien Stephenson via Flickr

Photo courtesy Bien Stephenson via Flickr

We all know by now that if you haven’t taken part in online communities relevant to your brand, your first step should be to listen on blogs and social networks for a while before starting your own. But if you’ve done that and you’re at the stage where you’re starting to consider launching your own community, your options are growing.

BuddyPress, first released in beta in December with a stable 1.0 release following a couple of weeks ago, is an open source project designed to transform the WordPress Multi-User platform into a social network. Led by developer Andy Peatling in Vancouver, it offers everything you might expect: profiles, blogs, groups, forums, private messaging, friends, Twitter/Facebook style activity streams and other features. It even has plug-ins such as one called Twitter to Wire, which helps you push your tweets directly to your profile. Some bloggers have noted that BuddyPress may be about to give Ning a run for its money.

We’ve covered Ning here before. It’s a platform for creating social networks with similar functionality. But most reviews comparing Ning and BuddyPress find the look and feel is more customizable in BuddyPress. That’s because it also allows you to skin your network with a custom design much like you would with a WordPress blog. Ning has some design options built in but they are not as flexible. However, it has been pointed out that Ning does not require installation the way BuddyPress does.

Thanks to the folks at liQuidprint, a Web design firm in the Chicago area, for their help with my review here. Here’s a quick digest of other blog posts covering BuddyPress or comparing community building options.

BuddyPress to help Automattic and WordPress go social

BuddyPress Launches: May a Thousand Social Networks Bloom (Someday)

Roll your own social network using WordPress

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