When you think of WordPress and social networking, your mind probably jumps straight to BuddyPress. But, as my PeepSo review will show, BuddyPress is far from your only option.
PeepSo is a feature-rich and open source social networking plugin for WordPress that comes in a free core version with premium extensions.
Oli actually already took a look at PeepSo a couple of years ago. But now, PeepSo is under semi-new management and also has two more years of development under its belt.
A lot has changed since 2015, so I invite you to join me as I put a fresh pair of eyes on this WordPress social networking plugin.
PeepSo Review: What All Does It Do?
As I mentioned in the intro, PeepSo comes as a free core version with a huge number of premium add-ons that tack on additional functionality.
In the free core version, you get the ability to set up a basic social networking community with features like:
- Activity stream
- Users can share their own posts with privacy settings
- More detailed and customizable profiles
- Members lists, including search and filtering
- Backend dashboard for community management
- Lots of other smaller features to help grow your community
If you want to add more features, which you probably will, you can find a variety of premium extensions for:
- User groups
- User photo uploads and albums
- Extended profiles
- Private messages and live chat between users
- Reactions to posts
- Other smaller add-ons for things like word filters, newsletters, and more
And beyond that, you can also find extensions to integrate PeepSo with other plugins, most notably revenue generating plugins like:
- Advanced Ads
- Paid Memberships Pro
Hands-on With PeepSo
Now’s the part where I dig into my test site and actually go hands-on with PeepSo. PeepSo gave me an already-setup test site, so I can’t touch on the full installation and setup process.
Also, because Oli already gave you a basic overview of the plugin, I’m going to focus more on some of the newer features like monetization methods anyway. But I will still give you a quick overview of PeepSo proper – just don’t expect me to cover everything.
A Look At the PeepSo Dashboard
When you go to the PeepSo tab in your WordPress dashboard, the first thing that you’ll see is an overview of everything that’s happening in your community:
You can quickly see activity, engagement, demographics, and more to get an easy understanding of the health of your community.
Configuring the PeepSo Plugin
In the Configuration tab of PeepSo, you can configure everything about how the plugin functions. There is a lot here.
Seriously – look at all of those tabs:
Of course, my test site has pretty much every single add-on enabled, so your’s might not have quite the same level of detail. But the point remains that you have a ton of control over how to set up your social network.
Again, I’m not going to cover every single setting because that would take forever, but one thing I do specifically like about the configuration options is how the developers used microcopy to make it clear what each option does:
A Look at the Front-End of PeepSo
On the front-end of the site, users can see their profile tabs as well as feeds for both their own profile and the entire community:
If you’re familiar with BuddyPress already, I’d say the basic layout concept is the same, though the little details aren’t.
You can see a few different interface options (again, these depend on the specific add-ons that you’re using).
With the right set of add-ons, users will be able to see friend requests and private messages, hop into their groups, edit their profile, post classified ads, and more.
For example, if users click on the friend request icons, they’ll be able to approve or deny friend requests without leaving the interface just like on Facebook:
Monetizing Your Social Network With PeepSo
One thing that PeepSo has been working hard on is offering new methods for you to monetize your community site. To that end, they currently offer three integrations with popular monetization plugins.
As I teased in the intro, those plugins are:
- Advanced Ads
- Paid Memberships Pro
You can use them to generate income in a few different ways. You will, of course, need the original plugin to use in conjunction with the PeepSo integration, though.
Advanced Ads is, in my opinion, the neatest integration because it lets you create advanced targeting for your ads. While you might not have quite the full depth of data as Facebook when it comes to retargeting and other advanced features, you can conceivably target users by all of the same fields as Facebook if you set up your profiles the same way:
- Any other profile fields that you create
Once you have the integration, you can create a new ad in Advanced Ads.
Only now, you’ll get a new ad type called “PeepSo Stream Ad” in addition to all of the other ads offered by Advanced Ads. PeepSo Stream Ad is specifically formatted to look like a post on the activity stream so the ad doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb but rather blends in with the activity feed. With Extended Profiles plugin you can create additional profile fields and use them in your ad targeting:
You can also configure some more settings about how your ads function inside the PeepSo settings page:
Like I said, it’s not 100% as detailed as Facebook ads (that’s not a criticism- I would never expect it to be)…but it’s still pretty dang cool given that even basic functionality like this is beyond most WordPress installs.
Paid Memberships Pro
PeepSo’s Paid Memberships Pro integration syncs up the Paid Memberships Pro interface with the PeepSo signup process to help you sell paid membership access to your community.
With the integration, you can create membership levels using Paid Memberships Pro like normal.
Then, if you enable it, users can see a Memberships tab in their user profile to manage their subscription straight from the PeepSo interface:
WPAdverts is the third payment integration that PeepSo offers.
It lets you integrate classified ads into your community in some really neat ways.
You can either allow free ads, charge for ads, or both. And the neat part is that it’s all happening inside the same PeepSo interface as the rest of your social networking site.
- Ads show up in the user/community feed when posted, and go away when inactivated
- Users can access the classifieds section from their profile
I went through the classified ad creation process and enjoyed how well integrated it was into the PeepSo interface. If I didn’t know how it was working on the backend, I would just assume it’s a standard PeepSo feature, rather than a separate plugin.
How Much Does PeepSo Cost?
The core PeepSo plugin is 100% free as well as Tags, Moods and Location plugins.
From there, all the add-ons, of which there are a number, cost either $19 or $29 each, with the exception of the Advanced Ads and WPAdverts integrations which cost $99 each.
Final Thoughts on PeepSo
From playing around with my test site, I think PeepSo is a viable BuddyPress alternative for creating a community site or social network with WordPress.
Like Oli said in his original review, you will need to pay for some premium add-ons that handle features that come for free in BuddyPress, notably friendships, photos, private messages, and a couple more.
But at the same time, I couldn’t find anything for BuddyPress to match the level of ad targeting offered by the Advanced Ads integration for PeepSo (if there is something, please correct me in the comments). So for that reason, I don’t think it’s a huge deal because the core bundle at PeepSo is still fairly affordable.
All in all, I can tell that PeepSo has come a long way from when Oli reviewed it back in 2015.
So if you’re looking to create a social network with WordPress, you should definitely give it a look.
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