BuddyPress: Adding Social Media to STandard WordPress Installs
It seems like everyone and their mother is trying to integrate social media into their solutions, and WordPress (news, site) is no exception.

BuddyPress, a package of social tools initially designed to add networking to sites based on WordPress MU, can now be used with standard installs. 
 

Meet BuddyPress

The WordPress team describes BuddyPress as “social networking in a box” because of the range of included features, but like the rest of the WordPress fam, it’s open source and free. This equals a virtual ton of glitzy add-ons from the community, no doubt.

The basic features that work to bring people together include:

  • Activity Streams: Global, personal and group activity streams with threaded commenting, direct posting, favoriting and @mentions. All with full RSS feed and email notification support.
  • Extended Profiles: Editable profile fields allow you to define the fields users can fill in to describe themselves. 
  • Extensible Groups: Public, private or hidden groups allow users to break the discussion down into specific topics. Extend groups with your own custom features using the group extension API.
  • Friend Connections: Users can make connections to track the activity of others, or filter on only those users they care about the most.
  • Private Messaging: Private messaging will allow users to talk to each other directly, and in private. Not just limited to one-on-one discussions, users can send messages to multiple recipients.

Additionally, features can be turned off, so if there's something that doesn't strike your fancy -- like private messaging or group discussions -- getting rid of them isn't that difficult.

Meet BuddyPress 1.2

The new release of BuddyPress brings all that social goodness to standard WordPress installs (or WordPress MU 2.9.1 and up) in “six minutes flat.” That’s assuming you don’t yet have WordPress anyway, which has a famous installation time of 5 minutes. So really, adding a social media package to your Web CMS only takes a minute.

If you’ve already got a WordPress install up and running, head over to your Plugins page and select Add New from the menu. There you can find and auto-install BuddyPress. Note: There may still be some customization required, particularly within standard WordPress themes. Or, WordPress offers a stock BuddyPress theme that works nicely.

Moreover, WordPress.com's newly boosted VIP hosting and developer-to-developer support program for their elite users offers additional support for BuddyPress (because it's becoming kind of a big deal).  

Check it out.