If you’re into Star Wars, one thing everyone can probably agree on is that The Force is pretty dang important. Not only does it serve as the means through which Luke saves the day, but it also acts as the underlying theme of the entire franchise. Which, yeah, is pretty important.
Now, if WordPress were to have a force behind it, I’d have to say it’s the social element. Sure, the backend code is important, as is the easy-to-use dashboard. But when you get right down to it, the thing that serves to benefit WordPress users the most is ability to interact socially.
That’s why we’re going to spend some time today talking all about the social components of WordPress and why, if you want to run a successful site on this CMS, you had better use the Social Force.
“Use the force, Luke”
Iconic words, they are. But what do they mean, exactly? In Star Wars, the Force is the life force. It’s the energy that runs through every living thing and in the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, ” …binds the galaxy together.” You can think of it as an individual’s ability to live up to his or her greatest potential, too. That’s what the Force is all about. (Seriously, you’re not going to throw any of that Midichlorians nonsense at me, canon or not.)
When applied to the realm of WordPress and social media, the Force is a way to take advantage of the power possessed by a network of likeminded people. When you use the Social Force, you tap into an energy resource (people!) and align them with your overarching business goals. You take advantage of the very connected nature of the modern world. Honestly, you can’t afford not to do that these days.
How to use the social force
Now that you have a good grasp of what the Social Force is, you can get down to using it. This goes beyond just WordPress here, people. This applies to any company or brand doing business online. Before you can confidently say “May the Force be with you,” to your followers and customers, you need to have the right underlying systems in place.
To take advantage of the social force, you need to take the follow steps:
Add social outreach to the WordPress dashboard
WordPress, being the flexible platform that it is, allows you to add social media tools to your dashboard. This can certainly make your life easier when trying to juggle all the responsibilities involved with running a business online.
One way to add an element of social outreach to your WordPress dashboard is to use a plugin like Jetpack. It has a built-in module called Publicize that allows you to automatically share your latest blog posts on the likes of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so forth. But this is really just a way to promote your latest content, and doesn’t really tap into the Social Force. To do that, you need to get interactive, which leads us to my next point…
Build a community
WordPress can be harnessed as a social tool if you know how to leverage it. For instance, did you know you can build a community right from within the dashboard? Creating your own community is one of the best ways to to know the true power of the Social Force—not the dark side. And it’s made possible all thanks to a few simple solutions:
- BuddyPress is a really good way to create a community using WordPress. This plugin helps you to actually create a dedicated social network for your website that includes member profiles, activity streams, private messaging, and so much more. It’s full-featured and infinitely useful in its ability to foster and facilitate conversation around your brand.
- bbPress is another simple yet powerful solution for building WordPress-based communities. It’s actually a forum software that integrates seamlessly into WordPress and allows your users to chat, discuss, and opine about anything and everything related to your niche.
- Finally, Users Ultra is an excellent (and easy) way to build communities and social networks with just a few clicks. It integrates into any WordPress theme and can be customized to include as many input fields as you need.
Beyond building social communities that are self-contained within your website, you need to think about engaging with the Social Force present beyond the boundaries of your site’s galaxy and reaching out into galaxies far, far away. Or, you know, social networks located off-site.
Comprehensive plugin solutions
To extend your brand’s reach to the farthest edges of the known universe, you really need to interact on broader social networks as well. Sharing your content via the Publicize module in Jetpack is just step one. It enables you to share with your network of followers (your galaxy), but that’s definitely not enough. You need to give your site visitors the means to share your content with their followers, too. These additional networks extend your reach to “galaxies” at a distance from your own, which gives you even more opportunities to impact a broader audience.
A great way to bolster your outreach efforts and become strong with the Social Force is to use a plugin-based solution that’s designed to make your site as socially connected as possible. A few of the best options out there right now include:
- Disqus is actually a commenting system for WordPress but it takes the blog comment to new heights, making it relevant here. This plugin allows users to comment on your blog and carry on the conversation across multiple websites. That means interesting discussions can cross multiple sites, giving you the potential of reigning in new traffic.
- Monarch Social Sharing Plugin makes sharing content across the popular social networks a stylish endeavor. This plugin will not only make your social media efforts stronger, but it’ll also show your site visitors that you care about presentation. This plugin is lightweight, fast, and offers sharing locations in a floating sidebar, above and below content, on images and videos, in a popup, or as a fly-in.
- ShareThis offers a set of nice-to-look-at share buttons and social analytics so you never have to wonder about how your site is performing on the social media front again. It supports 120 social networks and includes small and large buttons to suit your preferences.
There are more options available, of course, but the plugins and services listed here will give you plenty to work with to get started.
Remember: The Social Force is about more than sharing your content on social networks. It’s about engaging in lively discussion. It’s about contributing to your niche. And most importantly, it’s about showing your brand, business, or just you as an individual as it’s own force to be reckoned with.