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So, your BP site is up! Now, how to bring the people in and start using it?

  • Gianfranco


    This topic is not about solving a code-related issue.

    It’s about the marketing behind the website you’ve just built, or are building up.

    Getting things to work is one thing, and we dig deep into designing and coding and fixing and adding features and, yeah, fixing some more, for so long.

    But we all use BuddyPress to activate a community, and after all the hard work (fixing stuff, fixing stuff), we just want to see people using what we’ve made, right?

    So, are there any tips you’d like to share, or personal experience with making your community site work from a marketing point of view?

    How soon should you start to promote the website?

    When everything is perfectly functioning and tested?

    Or it is better to start to get the people in when the main features are ok, even if a few things are not working as they should or you would like them to?

    And how to deal with the initial absence of activity when you just start off?

    When you publish a fresh application, there are no groups, forums, and stuff, beside the one yourself create.

    Can this initial lack of activity refrain a new visitor to become a user and register an acount?

    Well, it may be interesting to share our mind on this.

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 26 total)

  • Xevo


    I personally always take a group of beta testers, let them test it, if it’s all okay, then I let the crowd in.

    At the moment I’m working on a community and the advertisement has been done almost 2 months ago, with a dissapointing outcome that people visited but no one was able to use the website. Probably has the same effect if you make a website and there’s still a lot of bugs, people will leave.

    At the beginning of a community make some interesting topics, talk with people yourself and if your community is interesting enough, people will stay.



    When you launch your community, it’s advisable to make sure that all features available to your users are working as they should. Otherwise, you’ll be devoting a large percentage of time responding to queries from users and fixing their problems; time that could otherwise be better invested in developing the features that you wish to add to your site at a later date.



    Get your beta people to test it fully then open it to public!



    I think that the tool doesn’t make the community. BP is just a tool, not a passport for have anything…

    If you know your community, the people who make it, their needs in matter of communication , you can choose a tool; Maybe BP, maybe another system…

    Don’t think that if you invest a lot of your time and efforts into the tool settings, that you receive immediate feedback from anybody. As a BP user, you’re only the tool builder, a part, a little part of a fresh borned community or an old one, with many subscribers and perhaps plenty years of experience and several internal usage.

    Depends also of the age of the public you accept. Sharing with “internet generation” people is not the same as sharing with seniors… Sharing with sport clubs is not the same as sharing in a business company.

    I’m always affraid when reading here on the forum, people who ask for enhancement a la facebook ! This is only trend, not long term usage… It’s now, not tomorrow. And maintaining a community or simply a group is not only manage today, it’s essentially manage tomorrow, but also next mounth or more better, next year.

    BP didn’t this. And never will do i guess ;-)

    BP can be a trap if you don’t take care of what people are. Bp certainly brings you some satisfaction if you give people what they want, but this doesn’t give you any waranty that you are right by deciding “now i have my BP community”, because the second question who follows immediatly after is: “where are the people ?”.

    Your question above is the evidence of that.

    Wow, great topic. Looking forward to see where the discussion goes!



    @Chouf1Very constructive arguments!



    I have the best community on the web! (don’t you?)

    It is a Genealogy community and that puts me going head to head with sites like So, why should anyone use my site?

    I think I have to find that “Little difference” that makes a “BIG” difference. Exactly what that is, I don’t know yet. But one thing I do know, CONTENT! CONTENT! If I don’t find some usable content on your site I will leave and will not bookmark it for a return.

    This is where I am struggling at present.


    @Chouf1 has some great points – anyone has access to the same tools when creating a community site. BUT – it takes a ringleader upstart and keep a community going. For that, I’d say treat a community idea like a business plan. It will take time to foster growth, activity and membership – (catch-22 of a void site with no activity and members and who will join to start in)

    One of the online communities that I’m apart of grew from a local hangout of car geeks (few dozen people) back in the mid-90s now to the largest automotive discussion forums (500k+ users and some 60,285,241 posts later) – all it took was a span of 13 years :-P Frankly the site still operates and grows on outdated forum software, no frills, no social aspect, no mobile, web 0.5 basically. Now it could be better – and that has lead to other small niche community from this (20-30k users on better tools) but the point is; you have to be passionate about your community and provide the value-added benefits that your users seek.

    How soon should you start to promote the website?

    When everything is perfectly functioning and tested?

    Or it is better to start to get the people in when the main features are ok, even if a few things are not working as they should or you would like them to?

    I’m a K.I.S.S. advocate – if a site is too complex or overwhelming that may drive users away. Sometimes it works out for the best to keep it low on the extra features and listen to the community as it grows – then customize and add things in that will make it easier for them to use the site. The web is saturated with communities and users have a lot of choices (though i find the tool being used one of the lower deciding factors)



    while the BP Beta was in development last summer, we started a Facebook Group and a Twitter account – by the time we launched the site in September 2009, the FB group had over 2000 members, and 700+/- twitter followers whom we could then push toward the membership sign-up.

    Chouf1 your point regarding Facebook cloning and trending is well made and perhaps ought to be stressed from time to time I’m less interested in seeing BP and it’s child plugins attempt to simply ape Facebook in every way possible than in seeing it identify and establish simply what social networking is about.

    The essence of a community – especially at the outset – is about a great deal of care and nurturing, somewhat less about features than about a place for interaction between members, of good quality content and discussion and that has to be helped along initially and does require a lot of commitment on the part of the site operators.

    It is therefore entirely correct to assert that the tool doesn’t make a community and to bear that in mind. BP is a great tool or potentially a great tool, but it is a tool, something that facilitates communities, growing that community into something vibrant with a soul and longevity is where the work begins.



    Nobody wants to sign up to another site. If you do not have facebook and twitter connect you are loosing members. Content is everything. If there is no value to your network people will not stay. Sites need to offer easy ways to share valuable content with their friends. RT buttons, share on FB, digg buttons are a must if you want your users to spread the word about your site for you.

    I wouldn’t even worry about members until you have a solid foundation of valuable content. Blog Blog Blog. Post forum topics till your fingers bleed. Add youtube videos and pics.

    David Bisset


    General Site Tips:

    1. Try private testing with a focus group (not your designers or developers).

    2. Don’t add too many features, determine the level of request and see if they fit with the spirit of the site.

    3. Don’t be afraid to make the site live. Just get the site out there and let users provide you feedback. I know clients that test, refine, etc. and it never makes it out the door.

    Social Network Tips:

    1. Facebook, Twitter, and social networking integration is important. Please love to login with other accounts.

    2. Create a way for users or even visitors to easily locate interesting people straight from the homepage.

    3. Make sure search is simple, easy to use, and as powerful as possible. Finding connections should be a no-brainer.

    4. Social networks grow the best when people can invite other non-users into the network.

    5. Social networks also grow quickly when members can share links, media, etc. with those within and outside the network.

    6. Give incentives for people to come back to the network. Awarding users for actions (like Foursquare) is an interesting way to do this, although there are plenty of other examples that can fit your particular network.

    7. Avoid long registration forms at all costs.




    unfortunately, point number 4. is missing within BuddyPress.

    It is not possible to invite outside people to join your Group.



    @erich73: did you hear about email ? ;-)


    i want to come back to your first question around the “marketing point of view”. I recently searched about “community manager” and found a lot of answers in the marketing sector. Not what i expected, but suddenly i realised that while we’re playing with BP, some marketers with long teeth are building complicated strategies to conquest markets with social tools. To make it brief, for these marketers, a community manager is a kind of “propaganda staffel” leader, if you understand this expression.

    If not and to be clear, i asked holly Google and here is what the algorythm god said to me:

    marketing & social networks 119 000 000 -> results

    marketing & strategy 89 100 000

    marketing & experts 74 800 000

    marketing & teacher 48 800 000

    marketing & mass media 41 000 000

    marketing & professor 33 900 000

    marketing & humor 16 300 000

    and the best for the end:

    marketing usability 5 640 000

    and now let us compare with:

    buddypress 2 680 000

    buddypress and marketing 601 000

    so we can finally enlarge to a more generic request as:

    marketing & open source 64 400 000

    which lies somewhere between “teachers” and “experts”.

    This are funny examples to illustrate what you can expect for your question “in terms of marketing”.

    View a brief resume here:

    (not intended to offend anybody here)

    A community is a group of people, unified around a project, a personnality, ideas and a RICH CONTENT. But it is also a forum (in sense of forum romanum) and naturally a politic placeholder, as a process by which groups of people make collective decisions.

    So you don’t need our opinion about why and how to build a community. This is your intimate affair. You have the choice and what you decide, you have to assume.

    Requesting the recipe does not cook the potatoes. Giving the recipe either.

    Andrea Rennick


    “Requesting the recipe does not cook the potatoes. “

    Love this. :)

    This whole thread should be stickied and required reading.



    @gian-ava Perfect timing. I’m in the process of finishing up a BP site and was thinking about this very topic. Definitely appreciate @Dimensionmedia comments. Right now I’m focused on how I’ll be promoting the site and how I can get others involved in spreading the word.



    Excellent topic!

    I had it a bit differently when I started my first wpmu bp site. I was active on one of my country’s leading social networks when it was starting to fall apart. People were leaving everyday because the system was built on old software and no one seemed to care about support, etc. I then decided to create my own social network (similar to the popular one) and created my bp network taking 20 of the top networkers on the other site with me. The network has grown quite bigger than the first 20 members but I must admit it’s a slow process as others first wants to see what is in it for them.

    To get back to the topic. Be active on the network and show your starting members how to use the network and all the benefits of your network. Also be sure to write “help” files as you won’t be around to answer everyones questions all the time. I’ve added a “feedback” floating bar button on the network where members can submit feedback /queries regarding the network to me.

    I would like to add the Twitter and Facebook connection settings to the network but it doesn’t make sense as this network is country specific and on the registration page there’s a couple of fields that must be completed.



    @Erich73 You need to look at the “Invite Anyone by Email too” Plugin: That satisfies the #4 and actually was going to be my comment about bringing people in.

    This plugin is fully functional and if done right can be a great way to grow a BP site. Although, I think the plugin is still in it’s relative infancy and as it grows will become one of the invaluable plugins for those using BP.



    @Anton So how did you incentivize your initial group of 20 members?



    One word of caution using Facebook and Twitter to promote your page. Make sure you have some sort of related posts or links to other content on your site very prominently displayed or else your bounce rate will be off the charts! People will click and sample, but to hook them you will have to be a bit more clever. Making some content hidden is a good idea but it has a tremendous downsides in terms of SEO.

    The Facebook/Twitter connect options are vital for growth because as previously stated no one wants to sign up for yet another website.



    Recommend watching Kevin Rose’s presentation. Lots a great tips from someone who’s had a fair amount of success.

    9 Ways to Take Your Site from One to One Million Users:




    Honestly, it is quite hard to get a new website off the ground if new members create a Group and actually are not able to invite people to join their group – because they do have literally no friends at that website.

    How should somebody already have friends at a website which just started off ?

    So the possibility of inviting external people to your Group is quite essential to get a new BP-website started and off the ground.

    Not sure how difficult it is to code 5 e-mail-fields in order to give the Group-creator the chance to invite his external friends to join his group ?

    Andy ?

    Erich, it can be done as is discussed on the invite-anyone thread, at the moment the best approach is create the group, then when created go to your profile from where you can then begin to send your email invites, or finish the group creation , click the send invites tab, on that screen use the link to your profile > send invites.

    So Users CAN send email invites, What may be a help as I mentioned is that there is more detailed terxt guides on creation screens explaining what and how to do things.

    Not sure how difficult it is to code 5 e-mail-fields

    Actually very easy especially if you don’t mind all sorts of potential nasties happening, on the other hand look at the testing that went on for this plugin as an example of even with what appears a trivial matter or function just how much in reality needs to be thought about and tested, the work Boone did to get to the stage he has with the plugin cost a lot in terms of time and time translates to an implicit cost that in the case of these developers is seldom recuperated.



    @Dimensionmedia Nice and valuable list of tips, thanks.

    I’m glad that my topic have generated such interesting discussions.

    The community website I build up is for Cure fans (you know The Cure, right?), and since they all are already active on Facebook, MySpace and other existing (traditional) forums, it is quiet a bit of a challenge to bring them over to my site and actually use it.

    The motivation that made me wanna do Cureuphoria ( is that I felt that althought many places already exist for Cure fans to interact, there isn’t a real Social Network with features “à la Facebook/MySpace” that is specifically built with that particular community in mind.

    I feel that the major value of using BuddyPress, and the main difference with the above mentioned social networks is that you can offer basicly the same feautures, BUT in an environement created and adapted around a specific community, which is the strongest point to my opinion.

    From look and feel, to functionalities, you can build something up that is indeed unique to a given community.

    Something that a rather impersonal environement such as Facebook, is not able to offer.

    For example, I used custom profile fields to build a Cure-oriented member profiles, because it is about The Cure, right?

    You can check an example here:, which is my profile, but you can go and see others too.

    Also, because I believe the register page is a key page of the site, I designed a very simple, basic form with a prominent call to action button, and argued some benefits about registering and using the site, that would accompany the registration form.

    And, because during the intial lunch phase you don’t see many members profile avatars active, I decides to design a visual graphic with different avatars in order to give the potential subscriber a feeling of community. To do so, I asked permissions to Facebook users (within the Cure fans community) to use their avatars, and they all agreed. That gave me already the possibility to communicate the existence of the new site to some.

    By the way, this is the register page:

    At the moment I did get quiet a few registrations in a week time period, but unfortunately, users don’t turn out to be as active as I expect them to be. So, beside the first point of bringing people in and register, the following point would be, how to make them use the website and be active? Maybe it takes time to achive that.

    Maybe their passivity is due to the fact of being troubled by the slight diffrences with (again) Facebook, or other traditional forums structure.

    I mean, the majority of other Cure forums out are built with calssical bulletin board systems, such as phpBB or vBulletin and are (sorry, but I need to say it) quiet ugly. Still they are widely populated with topics.

    My users, I feel, are probably troubled by the Groups/Forums relation. Some posted on the Group homepage activity, thinking that it was answearing to a topic in the forum for that Group.

    I mean, I do think that the Group/Forum as a value and I totally understand the principle behind it. But do my users?

    In order to push them to post Topics that are not necessarily associated with a Group, I did create a Group called Open Topics, that would act as a general topic forum.

    And, I wrote a sticky topic on “How to use Cureuphoria”, which you can find here, even if not finished yet at the moment of this writing:

    I would like to have them create their own groups, write topics, invite their friends over and all that, instead of coming to the site, putting up a video form YouTube, add a friend and then leave to just check if something more exciting is happening after a day, and since it’s not the case, leave again.

    Anyway, I don’t think there is a magic formula to make your BuddyPress site have the success you expect, but it is probably a lot of little things that need to be manged toghether, from design, to functionalities, to constant marketing (social public relationship). Or… something I am just missing.

    I want to thank all of you who contributed to the topic. Keep it going: advices, ideas and thoughts about this are never enough.

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 26 total)
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