Picture this: The average Facebook user shares around 70 pieces of content each month. While this sort of content creation for your blog or website may seem unmanageable, turning your site into a community of sharing, a forum where your “brand ambassadors” can post their stories, pictures or ideas, is a participatory way to consistently generate new content for your site.
In the past, doing this meant a lot of custom coding. But this is one of the many reasons we love Drupal. With the slew of Drupal modules in existence today, you can “socialize” your site with minimal hard coding.
Here are 7 modules that’ll take your site to the next level, starting with the one we feel is the most important:
1. Organic Groups
With the organic groups module, users can create and manage their own “groups” (much like the new Facebook groups pages). Each groups has a homepage that provides a place for subscribers to post and share (by posting blogs, stories, pages, etc.) and a block that provides basic information about the group. Users can also enable additional features in groups, like deciding whether the group should be selective or not (selective groups require admin approval in order to become a member). With OG on your site, the possibilities are endless - you can configure the layout, administer memberships, configure access restrictions and much more. The latest version of OG has been rewritten from the ground up and while the learning curve is steeper, the rewards are significant.
2. User Relationships
This module allows site administrators to create and define user types (friend, family, coworker) and relationship types (one-way, mutual). This module is also bundled with a group of submodules that allow admin to set up engagements like email notifications, invites, and private messaging.
Encouraging current users to invite their friends, family and coworkers to join in on your social site is important. The invite module works with the User Relationships module above to provide an “Invite a friend.”
4. User Points
With newer social networks, sometimes users need a little bit of incentive to participate with the group. Enter, the user points module. This module (in conjunction with one of the many other contributed modules) allows users to accumulate points for actions such as posting nodes, commenting, moderating or adding a picture. Site administrators can use these points to upgrade roles or exchange them for goods or incentives on your site.
5. Embedded Media Field
With many modules that extend the capabilities of the Emfield module, this module provides users the ability to display and share video, audio, image and other media files.
7. Flag (with the Flag Friend submodule)
Utilizing the Flag API, Flag Friend provides a single, two-way relationship type (friend) that can send messages and email notifications to the recipient of the friend request providing further information on accepting the request.
The Heartbeat module can be used to display user activity on a website. Like the Activity module, Heartbeat is an API to log activity that can be structured to display into customizable activity streams
Have we utilized these tools to create social sites before? So glad you asked! Many times. When we were approached by Sally Beauty Supply and asked to create a highly-interactive, easy-to-navigate social site for their network of retail stores and sale consultants, we turned to the Drupal platform to help solve some of their most complex roadblocks. Using a collection of the modules above as well as some custom features, we developed a new site that received a standing ovation when it was first presented at the company’s 2009 President’s Meeting.
So what are you waiting for?