One of our top recommended build your own social network CMSs is SocialEngine PHP. It’s a self-hosted solution that you own the source code to and control 100%. This puts it in the WordPress/BuddyPress sphere of scaleability and flexibility, although the learning curve is probably steeper than established hosted solutions like Ning.
Out of the box, here’s what you can expect from SocialEngine:
Complete control and 100% ownership
SocialEngine PHP gives you a simple, unbranded network that you can customize in any way. You have total freedom to alter and maintain all aspects of your site and content as befits the needs of your niche social network or community. This is a compelling reason to use SocialEngine as ownership of data and code is pretty high on most community owners wishlists.
SocialEngine PHP helps you build a community that’s unique to you, with absolutely no “powered by” links or “SocialEngine PHP” branding across the site. This means you look awesome for creating a community and also reduces the risk members of your site starting something similar because they know how simple it is to do. OK, maybe not, but white-label is a comfort blanket for many niche social network owners.
Many social network CMSs claim that you own your data but give you no access to it – yes, Ning, we’re talking about you! On SocialEngine, your social network content is yours to own so you can move your site to another CMS any time you want. Or, any time you can rework the data for easy import into another platform, but that’s an altogether different concern 🙂
Access to source code
You’ll have the complete PHP source code to play with, making it possible to add or integrate your custom features. SocialEngine give us some sample code to take a peek at here.
SocialEngine PHP is hosted on your own servers, or a rented server like GoDaddy. This is actually a pretty cheap way to run a community site in the early stages but when you get to be Facebook size you’re gonna need a bigger boat! Think VPS at least.
Flexibility to build what you want
SocialEngine PHP makes diverse styles of social networking possible. You decide how your community members will connect, share, and interact with each other on your site. For example, you can choose from two-way friendships (e.g. Facebook), one-way followers (e.g. Twitter), verified/unverified friendships, and more.
Drag-and-drop Content Management
Use SocialEngine PHP’s built-in, visual drag-and-drop CMS to arrange content, customize widgets, create whole new pages, and place advertisements. Import new widgets or develop your own with our guides.
Membership levels and moderators
Create multiple levels of membership in your community to give some members access to special content or extra privileges. You can also assign moderators to help you maintain your community and remove unwanted content for you.
Pick out features when you need them.
With a modular approach to plugins, SocialEngine PHP allows you to start as small or large as you need to.
Buy third-party plugins and themes
Explore the plugins and themes being sold by hundreds of third-party developers. SocialEngine PHP benefits from a vibrant community that is very active and can help you enhance your community in many ways. It’s like Ning used to be!