Social Networks can be very powerful. For those who know how to tap into them effectively, social media websites are are greatly accelerating businessesby expanding their reach and influence in a cost effective way.
There are even tons of options for those who want to create their own networking groups. If you want an all-in-one solution you might look at Ning or CollectiveX. To add social modules to an existing web site, KickApps is an option. Or if you just want some basic message board like communication you can look at a free Google Group or Yahoo Group.
But what if you want more control than any of those options offer?
Up to now your only option would be to spend a huge pile of cash hiring a crew of programmers to develop a custom solution. That’s out of reach of most small business owners.
Open Source to the Rescue
Leave it to the good folks at Automattic to come up with a solution. They are backing BuddyPress which builds on their WordPress MU (multi-user) platform to create full blown social media sites. For those who are familiar and comfortable working in the WPMU environment, BuddyPress is a very cost effective way to get a new niche social media site up and running relatively quickly.
And BuddyPress moved one step closer to being ready for prime time today with the release of Release Candidate 1, which means it is getting more stable and most of the bugs have been worked out of it.
This is really good news. Having an open source option for creating social media sites really opens the doors for organizations that can really benefit from providing a way for their communites to better connect.
I’ve been working with BuddyPress for a couple months now and I’m impressed. Something tells me once word gets out about this project we’re going to see BuddyPress sites all over the place.
Update: Here is a video intro to BuddyPress so you can see what all it can do.