November 1, 2014

9 Ways to Build Your Own Social Networking Site

Much of the content on this blog involves information on marketing your site through social media and social networking sites. However, maybe you want to create your own networking site to fill an existing void or rather than using some of those that already exist. If you are interested in building a networking site, you could of course have the site built from scratch, or you could use some type of existing platform to handle the back end of the site.

In this post we’ll look at 9 options for creating your own social network. Some are free options, and others are paid options that may be more appealing depending on your situation.

Ning

With Ning you can create your own social network very quickly for free. If you’re serious about building the site into something significant you can upgrade to a paid version with more features.

Ning

BuddyPress

For WordPress users, BuddyPress may be an attractive option. With BuddyPress you can turn a WordPress MU installation into a social networking site.

BuddyPress

Pligg

Pligg is a common choice (open source)  for social news sites, such as Sphinn and Design Float. Pligg gets criticized frequently for the poor security at Design Float, but the site doesn’t show any signs of being actively managed, so it’s hard to blame Pligg for that.

Pligg

KickApps

KickApps is a paid option that will allow you to build a social network with a lot of features. Pricing starts at $39.95 per month for the smallest plan.

KickApps

CrowdVine

CrowdVine allows you to create a simple networking site for your group or organization. There are both free and paid options available.

CrowdVine

CollectiveX

CollectiveX will allow you to create a social site for your group, organization or association. There are several different packages available including a free plan. Paid plans start at $9 per month and there are several premium features that you can add on for an additional fee.

CollectiveX

Drupal

Drupal is a popular open source content management system that can be used to create social networking and social media sites. Design Bump, a social news site for the design community, is built on Drupal. There are a number of modules that can be used for building a social networking site with Drupal, here is a list.

Drupal

Elgg

Elgg is an open source option that was created specifically to power social networking sites.

Elgg

Dolphin

Dolphin is another free, open source option. It includes features like photo sharing and video sharing, among others.

Dolphin

What’s Your Experience?

If you have any experience working with any of these options, please share by leaving a comment.

About Steven Snell

Steven is a web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.

38 comments

  1. You have write about some sites that can provide us a social networking site . you have write about almost every site . But I think you have dropped a very important site in your writing that is socialgo . It is site that could provide you a social networking site for FREE which will contain all important item of a social networking site such as chatting , bloging , fourm , both video and picture upload . Though it give you a social networking site for FREE , you should upgrade it to premiur if you want to customize it in you own way and want to keep your own ad and earn money . If you are thinking of making a site with socialgo , please use the following link :
    http://www.socialgo.com/

  2. I built a site for a friend using NING (http://www.ourfilmspace.com/). He’s upgraded to the premium version so we can have a custom URL. I’d strongly recommend doing that. Otherwise you end up with yourname.ning.com.

    It was incredibly easy to set up and maintain.
    The site has grown to about 2000 members and is very active. So far NING has been great. I’d say it did the trick.

    I’m currently experimenting with BuddyPress for some other projects. So far I like what I see but haven’t built anything that’s public yet.

  3. I’ve tried Dolphin several times and its to buggy at the moment. It has lots of features, but the old features should be improved instead of implementing more and more features.

    For a free social network cms its great, but I wont use it for big projects at the moment.

  4. dolphin and elgg are good for the networking open source and well designed.

  5. I am familiar with drupal and have done a social networking project using this open source CMS. It has lots of social networking modules which can be easily used. You are the guys also can try this to get done your social networking project ;)

  6. I recently visited a site that was built on kickapps. It was very slow.

  7. Thats a great list! Regarding Pligg – I agree with the security flaws as I have experienced it personally.

  8. at last the information i needed thank you.

  9. I like Ning and I have seen many Ning powered social networking sites that work out excellently.

  10. I have used Drupal and it’s ok but can be difficult for a complete beginner but it has a great community that can help you. I’ve also used Dolphin which is hard to customize, and has some bugs to work out. The only other one I have used is Buddypress. I love it. It’s easy to customize and is full of features. It is also updated regularly & fully backed by the WordPress community. My site is http://www.bubblia.com which is a social network for nightlife enthusiasts & fun things to do.

  11. I work most of time with Joomla! so my experience is with a Joomla Extension called JomSocial. It’s really good and easy to manage and best of all it’s expandable.

    Also I have seen guys on Rmd Studio working on a social networking engine called Anahita . You can check it out here : http://vimeo.com/5091589

  12. I have attempted to use Ning, it can be clunky however is a very scalable platform.

    I have also used Crowdvine. The feel is similar to Ning however we used it for the UX Australia 2009 conference and it was AMAZING to interact with. Had great promotion of other people values (very social, I know). I think you can customise Crowdvine greatly for more social interaction.

    For the UX Australia conference there was a ‘want to meet’ feature which you could then go back to later and tick them off.

  13. Could you please tell me whichi one can use in China?
    Thank you very much.

  14. Thanks man. I’ve been wanting to move away from the forum thing to the social networking one for some time now. Thanks a million. I don’t recall you stating which one is your favorite though. So, which is it?

  15. I can’t really say that I have a favorite because my experience is more as a user of social networking sites as opposed to developing them. If I was planning to develop a social news (voting) site I would look into Drupal first.

  16. We used Joomla and the JomSocial extension to build our site, http://www.esljobsconnect.com

    We chose Joomla because of its flexibility with various module extensions that can integrated with the base Joomla engine.

  17. This article is really informative. It is amazing how rapidly companies are becoming increasingly involved with social media sites. I read recently that Dell have made $3million from Twitter alone, $2million of which is from direct sales through the Twitter page. Another interesting set of stats is that there are over 300 million active accounts on Facebook, and approximately 70% of these interact with companies through the social medium resulting in a significant effect on buying intention and satisfaction.

    Take my company Fatsoma, an online promotion platform, for example. One of their key selling points is that their promotional websites for nightlife promoters come fully integrated with Facebook for viral marketing and even online ticket sales. Also, many clients are made through interacting and networking with promoters through social media, and in particular Myspace.

    Basically the point I am trying to make is that social media is vitally important in the modern Web 2.0, new media era for all companies as it is no longer acceptable to talk at consumers, we all must now talk with them.

  18. Ning is da best

  19. Very well written article and you have several sites listed that I hadn’t heard of before. Thank you!

  20. Another great script to check out is SocialEngine (http://www.socialengine.net).

  21. I have built several social websites with Jomsocial, based on Joomla.
    Paired with some other Open Source and commercial extensions for Joomla it can be very powerful. It’s fairly easy to manage but I wouldn’t suggest for a newbie to build their own site.
    Ning is phasing out their free service (expect a dramatic drop of their user base) so it’s no longer a choice for free social sites but it’s a pretty good choice for low cost.

    I have also tried some stand alone scripts and the old Community Builder for Joomla. Some are old (CB) but still valid for some uses. Some are just too clunky and support is minimal.

    If I had to build my own right now I’d use Jomsocial. The price is right, not to difficult to implement (takes me an afternoon to build a site, but I had a steep learning curve – some of the features need to be tweaked a bit to work) and it’s very powerful.

  22. Thanks for this list! I have the paid version of Ning, and its amazing – lots of features and tools. i will be taking a look at the other ones you listed which I have not heard before.

    Nikki May

  23. I’ve been playing with BuddyPress the past few days but don’t feel the maturity in it yet. I bet in a couple years time there will be some kick ass social networking platforms, plug-ins, and themes available for the non-programmer. I am surprised by this lag time.

  24. is it actually that simple?

    i think for a person skillful that can be the truth

    although I don’t know that everybody will think that way

  25. based on my experience, I think drupal is the best, actually we need skill to make it great

  26. Welcome to Taiwan ^___^y

  27. Social Niche builds community engagement software as well which has been built on the basic principle of enabling organizations and brands to engage with people on their own fully branded social networking platform. Create your own social network using Social Niche or visit our site to find out more: http://www.socialniche.co.uk

  28. Very good post. I absolutely appreciate this site. Keep writing!

  29. Greetings! Very useful advice within this
    article! It is the little changes that make the largest changes.

    Thanks a lot for sharing!

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