5 Drupal Tools That Help Build a Social Community
Volacci loves everything about Drupal – from the community to the functionality – but we don’t specialize in all the different disciplines required for firing Drupal on all cylinders. It is true that there was a time when we dabbled in development and design, but found that our strengths lied in optimizing websites for higher search engine results. So Volacci now specializes on one thing: Drupal SEO.
For most people not intimate with SEO and design and development, this may seem like a gray area. Mostly because it is critical for all three disciplines to work closely together in order to have a fine-tuned, well-oiled website blazing a trail up the rankings. Volacci doesn’t build the sites, we work with our client’s design and development companies (usually the webmaster) to search engine-optimize the site. To butcher an old BASF ad campaign: “Volacci doesn’t make the websites, we make them rank better.”
One of the many advantages of the Drupal platform is the deep resource of tools that is available for fine-tuning and customizing a website. The tools and modules are free for download and usage, and allow for nearly endless ways to tinker with your Drupal site.
Today I am featuring five great Drupal “community-focused” tools that address the growing needs of this crazy Web 2.0 world we live in. Each one of them can be easily implemented into your website, and allows you to build a community while leveraging your business, brand, and content in a variety of social channels.
Join me after the jump for 5 Drupal community tools that will help you build a social community.
1. RSS Enhanced
“It doesn’t give you an RSS feed, it makes your RSS feed.. better.”
The Drupal RSS Enhanced module is a simple module you need to have if your website supports any type of interactivity. This isn’t an RSS feed, but a module that gives your feed a boost. An enhancement, per say. You should already have an active blog with an RSS feed and a comments field.
This module helps improve the quality of your RSS feeds and drives traffic to your site by injecting social links, Tweetmeme, comment counts, related posts and taxonomy into your RSS feeds. When people see your content in their feeds, it is more interactive, and more likely to be shared with an extended community. Check out this sample screen shot I pulled from drupal.org:
This module can be used as it comes, but it is intended to be a launching point for further customization of outgoing content and supports third-party integration. The module is maintained by New Eon Media and is sponsored by Mother Jones Magazine and Uptown Almanac.
2. ShareThis Module
The ShareThis Drupal module allows you to implement the ShareThis bookmarking utility on selected node types. Visitors who enjoy a piece of your content can easily share it on a variety of different social sites like Facebook, Digg, Reddit, Del.icio.us, Myspace, Technorati and Stumbleupon.
You can select the node types you wish to display ShareThis module on or place a ShareThis block if you wish to keep the content from going viral. The ShareThis module provides a great tool for building your brand community by giving your visitors an easy method to spread your word for you.
3. Drupal for Facebook
Drupal for Facebook is a set of modules and themes that gives you the power to create an application for Facebook. You can embed your content and features within Facebook, or open the door for Facebook users to come onto your site via Facebook Connect.
There are two basic types of Facebook applications:
• Canvas Page apps are run on Facebook and appear in the app.facebook.com domain. Pages are either FBML, or FBML with iframes embedded.
Developing a Facebook app may not be as difficult as it first seems. I can't speak from experience, but some of the resources I turned to for this post made it seem like the learning curve wasn't too steep.
Check out http://www.drupalforfacebook.org where Drupal for Facebook lives and breathes:
For additional resources, check out Drupal for Facebook on Drupal.org.
4. Twitter Module
Drupal's Twitter module provides API integration with Twitter and API-compatible alternatives like Identi.ca.
This module automatically empowers users to:
• Link multiple Twitter accounts with their Drupal user account.
• Display their tweets in a sidebar block on their user profile, and
• Post to their own Twitter account whenever they create new content
This module has full Views integration support, which allows administrators to customize their listings based on time, date, author, etc. and theme their blocks and profile page. The module will automatically turn @username references and #hashtags into links.
Because it's one less window or tab open on your browser to shuffle through when you get the itch to tweet or retweet.
5. Track ‘n’ Stack
The Track ‘n’ Stack module may be the most highly focused customization you can make for your website’s community on this list. This module allows you to build a music community. Musicians will find it useful who want to compose together freely without any set schedule. There is no special software to install and very little technical savvy needed.
Here is a screenshot of one a Track 'n' Stack-powered music player:
Use this module to:
• Create collaborative audio nodes
• Submit new files to collaborative nodes
• Track all file submissions
• Cancel a wrong submission
• Approve or delete files submitted to your own nodes
• Download submitted files
Whether you are in a band whose members have drastically different recording schedules, you collaborate with musicians who live far away, or you are just wanting to have fun with a community of musicians, this module allows you the flexibility to share music with each other through an easy-to-share music portal.
This will drastically help a music project, as a drummer can come in sometime in the morning and lay down the drum line. Meanwhile, the bassist comes in at night and lays down a killer bass line, saves down on the node and submits for further work with the vocalist and guitarist.
An ongoing project example of this module is Freaky Waves. Check them out if you are a collaborating musician or just love music in general.
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