Create your own private Twitter site using WordPress

by Jean. 142 Comments -

With the incredible popularity of Twitter theses days, many people are asking themselves how can they create their own Twitter-like network for their family, friends or company. This may be a lot easier than you think. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to do it easily, using WordPress.

Getting ready

Twitter success is the proof, microblogging is definitely something useful and efficient. It can help you staying tuned with friends, family or coworkers.

While Twitter is great, it may not be the best choice if you’re looking for a private network, for example for sharing work tips with colleagues, or notice your familly about what’s up.
As I was searching for an easy and quick way to create a private microblogging website, I stumbled upon an open source app called laconi.ca, which was created to allow people to launch their own private “Twitter like” microblogging sites. I didn’t really liked it and it was a total pain to install.

After this not so good experience, I decided that WordPress should do that job, and do it good as always.
P2 Theme

Let’s doing it

Well, enought talk for now! Let’s create our own, private microblogging website using our beloved WordPress.

1. Installing WordPress

The first thing to do is obviously to install WordPress on your server. Installing WordPress is definitely easy and and I’ll not explain it here due to the incredible amount of tutorials you can find on the internet.
If you need help for installing WordPress, you should read the documentation. Or even better, you can register at WpWebHost, the WordPress hosting experts, and use Fantastico to get your WordPress installed automatically in a minute. Just click here if you want to know more.

2. Get your copy of the P2 theme

The guys from Automattic (The company behing WordPress) released, some time ago, a very cool WordPress theme for social microblogging. The theme is called P2 and you can get it for free here.

After you downloaded P2, simply uncompress the archive and upload it to the wp-content/themes directory of your WordPress install. Once done, login to your WordPress dashboard and go to “Appearance”, “Themes”. Slect the P2 theme and activate it.

P2 Theme
That’s easy as that, you have sucessfully installed P2 and you’re ready for social microblogging.

3. What about a login form?

Althought the P2 theme itself is very good, it is possible to enhance it even more. As P2 allow users to post directly from the frontpage, without visiting WordPress dashboard, a good idea should be to integrate a control panel in the theme sidebar.
Our control panel will do the following:
If the user isn’t logged in or have no account yet: We’ll display a login form as well as a link to register, so the visitor can create his account.
If the user is already logged in: We’ll display a link to logout as well as a link to account options, so the user (Even if (s)he doesn’t know much about WordPress) can easily update his/her profile.

To integrate a login form in your theme sidebar, simply open the sidebar.php file and paste the following code:

<li>
  <?php global $user_ID, $user_identity, $user_level ?>
  <?php if ( $user_ID ) : ?>
    
    <h2>Control panel</h2>
	 <ul>
	   <li>Identified as <strong><?php echo $user_identity ?></strong>.
	   <ul>
		  <li><a href="<?php bloginfo('url') ?>/wp-admin/">Dashboard</a></li>

			<li><a href="<?php bloginfo('url') ?>/wp-admin/profile.php">Profile and personal options</a></li>
			<li><a href="<?php bloginfo('url') ?>/wp-login.php?action=logout&amp;redirect_to=<?php echo urlencode($_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']) ?>">Logout</a></li>

         <?php
         if (is_single()) {?>
           <li><a href="<?php bloginfo('wpurl');?>/wp-admin/edit.php?p=<?php the_ID(); ?>">Edit Post</a>
           </li>
         <?php } ?>

	</ul>
	</li>
	</ul>

  <?php elseif ( get_option('users_can_register') ) : ?>
    <h2>Identification</h2>
    <ul>
      <li>
  
      <form action="<?php bloginfo('url') ?>/wp-login.php" method="post">
      <p>
        <label for="log"><input type="text" name="log" id="log" value="<?php echo wp_specialchars(stripslashes($user_login), 1) ?>" size="22" /> User</label><br />
        <label for="pwd"><input type="password" name="pwd" id="pwd" size="22" /> Password</label><br />
<input type="submit" name="submit" value="Login" class="button" />
        <label for="rememberme"><input name="rememberme" id="rememberme" type="checkbox" checked="checked" value="forever" /> Remember me</label><br />
</p>
        <input type="hidden" name="redirect_to" value="<?php echo $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']; ?>"/>
      </form>
  
      </li>
      <li><a href="<?php bloginfo('url') ?>/wp-register.php">Register</a></li>
      <li><a href="<?php bloginfo('url') ?>/wp-login.php?action=lostpassword">Recover password</a></li>
    </ul>
  
<?php endif; ?>
</li>

 

4. Making your network private

While the login/register form option can be good in some case, it will still allow people to read your discussions and search engines to index your content. If your need is a 100% private website, don’t worry. This is far from being a problem.
To do so, we’ll use a WordPress plugin, named Private WP. Get your copy here. Once you have it, extract the archive on your hard drive and upload the private-wp to the wp-content/plugins directory of your WordPress install. Then, simply login to WordPress, go to the dashboard, then to “Plugins” and activate the plugin.

That’s all you have to do. Now, your website will automatically detect logged in users, who’ll be able to read and post content, and unknown visitors, who’ll be automatically redirected to WordPress loggin panel.

Conclusion

The first thing which have to be said is that, one more time, WordPress show how extensible and powerful it is. If you’re familiar with WP, creating this “Twitter-like” site using the P2 theme should not take you more than 30 minutes. Isn’t that great? I’ll not say that I love WordPress, because all of you already know ;)

This tutorial was focused on making a private microblogging site and used only basic techniques, but there’s a lot of other interresting things that can be done in order to enhance this “Twitter-like” site. For example, you may want to create a page template listing all members, or even better, filtering posts to see only those posted by a selection of members?
Maybe we’ll see that in a future tutorial, if you enjoyed this one.

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  • http://designblurb.com Sumesh

    That’s a good tutorial, I’m sure larger blogs would find this useful for internal communication (one blog I worked for used a 3 tier system – IM, Pownce and Wiki. P2 could’ve replaced the first two (although Wiki is necessary).

  • http://www.wprecipes.com Jean-Baptiste Jung

    @Sumesh: Thanks my friend, glad you enjoyed this tutorial!

  • http://wpmututorials.com Andrea_R

    Now do the same thing, only on WPMU with multiple blogs. :) Presto, your own twitter network.

  • http://nometech.com Alex Denning

    A better way to stop anyone from getting into the system would be to use a .htaccess hack – ‘M’ on this post –> http://wpshout.com/a-to-z-of-wordpress-htaccess-hacks/

  • http://www.wprecipes.com Jean-Baptiste Jung

    @Alex: It is another possibility, but it’s only better if you want to prevent unwanted user registration. Otherwise, both the .htaccess and the plugin (which use PHP redirects) are good.

  • Kyle Ferran

    Nice job! Just finished going thru this and it only took me about 15 minutes while one handed eating a subway sub. :)

    Thanks!

  • flijten

    Wouldn’t it be easier just to use locked twitter accounts and only grant access to the people you want to be able to share this “private twitter”?

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  • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

    Step 3: Why not just use a sidebar login widget?

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sidebar-login/

  • http://wpbloghost.com John Hoff – WpBlogHost

    Nice tutorial. This could maybe come in useful for customer service on our site. Got me thinking….

  • http://www.wprecipes.com Jean-Baptiste Jung

    @flijten: You could do that, but locked Twitter account will never give you the extensibility your own site can give you.

    @Otto: Didn’t know there were a widget to do that. Anyways hacks are good for that kind of simple task in my opinion. Too many plugins installed on your blog isn’t a good thing.

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  • http://wordpark.com chrys

    “Toyed” with the idea of using “Buddy Press” in WordPress MU – Not quite what I wanted. Downloaded laconi.ca and haven’t studied it too much yet. THANKS for the “shorthand” approach. This may be something that my “simple” mind can actually accomplish! Want to build a blog for bezangle.com also. You may have “set me free!”

    Thanks for “Being There” – Found you at Twitter – Will be back.

  • http://www.blakeimeson.com Blake Imeson

    Is there a way to have this on one page of your site and use another theme for the rest of the site? -So it could share the same user database.

  • http://www.cad-notes.com Edo

    Can we use another theme to do this? I would like to create one page with this ‘Twitter like’ function, but left the rest of my blog as it is.

  • http://firefoxninjas.com Srikanth AD

    Nice tutorial

    thanks for sharing

  • http://www.wprecipes.com Jean-Baptiste Jung

    @Blake: You could easily, using a custom category and a few modifications to P2 templates, create a blog within the P2 theme. But that kind of site use a whole WordPress databases (options, posts, comments, meta, etc) so in my opinion it will not be that easy to integrate P2 within an existing blog.

    @Edo: The P2 theme is very easy to customize. But as far as I know, there’s no other theme with similar functionalities.

  • http://www.serradinho.com George Serradinho

    Wow, I never knew it was that easy. Just shows you powerful WP is. Thanks for sharing this info.

    BTW, I will be posting about this post on my Monday roundup of posts as I think this would be beneficial to others who want to start their own Twitter-like site.

  • http://quicoto.com quicoto

    Nice one, thanks for sharing. I knew all except from the plugin :)

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  • http://www.labelzone.co.uk Labelzone

    This is great, I’ve been thinking about the best way to implement an internal note system for the company for a while, and this looks like it might be ideal (email would’ve been impossible!)

    Cheers for sharing this.

  • http://freelancercrowd.com/community/programming/ FreelancerCrowd

    There is a Bulgarian WP-based microblogging platform for years http://code.google.com/p/zcblog/
    However I don’t know if they ever tred it to port it in other languages.

  • http://www.wprecipes.com Jean-Baptiste Jung

    @FreelancerCrowd: That seems interesting, is there a demo somewhere?

  • http://obwiki.net Hilmy

    wow! so easy. I’ve been looking for “twitter-like” scripts and I found it. Thanks a lot as it has saved me lots of hassles..

  • http://www.designershoes.bz/ christian louboutin

    its very impressive i will start building my own one soon

    Very good tutorial and thanks for ur kind help

    Sri

  • http://www.geakz.com Geakz

    I’ve had this exact set up for family members now for a few months. It’s all locked down and everyone really digs being able to post quick (or lengthy) updates for all to read. Better than email because discussions take place within the comments. The allure is the ease of posting for all involved. You covered all the bases with your article.

  • http://dtwshow.com DT Bananas

    I’m having a problem with the login form, where do I find the sidebar.php to input the code? Thanks

  • http://dtwshow.com DT Bananas

    Don’t worry about my last question, I figured it out….but thanks anyway

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  • http://http//www.readyphotosite.com/ Michelle

    Your tutorial may be a great solution for companies’ internal communication. Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.kansasfest.org/ Kenji

    Is it possible to have the tweets submitted on such a private site also be sent to Twitter or Facebook (or vice versa)?

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  • http://freelancercrowd.com/community/programming/ FreelancerCrowd

    Jean-Baptiste Jung, I am not actually sure. I’ve tested it once for a project of mine and it worked great (exept the annoyance of using only Gravatar for the avatars), but never saw an actual big broject using it as is.
    Maybe the local twitter-likes like edno23.com/ and clix.bg/ are using parts of it. I don’t actually know

  • http://www.FRPrO.tk FRPrO

    i installed the p2 theme via the add new templates button n found it thru there but now i have a problem, how do i access the sidebar.php file? cant seem to find it anywere :(

  • http://check-this-out-now.com/solar-power Jimmy Bryant

    Wow, thanks for sharing, I have learned so much here on your site, thought I’d let you know your efforts are appreciated.

  • http://www.webpagefx.com Frank Lynch

    Hey that’s very impressive! Your tutorial is very simple and easy to understand , basically a layman’s guide to microblogging, which is a wonderful tool to keep your privacy and being seen by unwanted people or the people outside your circle.Kudos to you!!

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  • http://looblog.com gofree

    The logout link seems not working. M using 2.8.2

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  • http://www.mbreti3gut.com Britt

    Hi. I want to see this on action! Is there anybody who has done this???

  • http://www.xbox360repair.us Rafael

    Nice tutorial! I think, it is very easy to follow. Just one question, is there anyway to prevent unnecessary access?

  • http://ekbdesigns.com Elizabeth K. Barone

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I have a project that is going to require a website using WP that allows everyone to post tidbits to contribute to a large list, sort of similar to FML and other sites like that. There are actually a few ways to do this, and your method seems like the easiest I’ve come across so far. (Which means if I get stuck, I’ve got a plan B!) If you’re already good with WordPress, you could use create a page template that uses comments to allow microblogging and set that page as the default. That’s probably what I’m going to do, but I’m definitely glad to have a plan B!

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  • http://twitter.com/nerodeabraham Nerode Abraham

    great post. I’m thinking about re-designing my blog, and i think that using this tutorial will be very helpful in implementing my new wordpress theme

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  • http://aaronbassett.com Aaron Bassett

    Why try and shoe-horn it in when you could a system like http://laconi.ca/trac/ which is an opensource Microblogging platform (powers http://identi.ca/)

  • http://www.codgalben.ro/ webber

    i install this theme on my site, but i can’t edit the theme.

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  • Jason

    those looking for a demo of the theme, here you go.

    http://p2demo.wordpress.com/

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  • http://www.micronixsystem.com Santanu Bera

    I have also thinking to redesign my site. It will help me.

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  • http://www.cancer-treatment-research.com Melany S.

    “While Twitter is great, it may not be the best choice if you’re looking for a private network, for example for sharing work tips with colleagues, or notice your familly about what’s up.”

    This is great! Sometimes social networking sites like Twitter often become another Myspace or Facebook where you eventually end up with contacts you don’t even know. A private site is a good idea for families, groups of friends or officemates who want to stay in touch without broadcasting their stuff for the world to see.

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  • Tauri

    I totally digg this :)

    Is there option where login and registration are not required? Random visitors can post their thoughts while visiting site, no registration needed? Basically something like that: confessions.net/confess.html

  • http://www.stepbystepdirections.com step by step directions

    “That’s all you have to do. Now, your website will automatically detect logged in users, who’ll be able to read and post content, and unknown visitors, who’ll be automatically redirected to WordPress loggin panel.”

    That’s a great way to enhance my blog site that makes it look like Twitter! Only the users who can log in will be able to read the contents and put in comments.

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  • http://www.smashingthemes.com/ Smashing Themes

    That is a damn useful hack. You can use it to communicate with your clients and use it to update project progress. Thanks for sharing with us, I’m definitely going to give it a try.

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  • Victor Vloemans

    Excellent article, got me up and running in no time. As a little extra bonus, use the trick below in your sidebar.php to allow for ‘following’ people, just like on Twitter:

    It creates a list of authors and allows you to ‘follow’ an author through his/her RSS feed.

  • Victor Vloemans

    Sorry about my last comment, the php code snippet was excluded. The function I was referring to was: wp_list_authors(‘show_fullname=1&optioncount=1&feed_image=wp-includes/images/rss.png” width=9 alt=”bla’).

    This will create a list of authors and show the little RSS icon next to their name for easy RSS subscriptions.

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  • http://www.thinkbluemedia.co.uk Robert Rawlins

    Hey this is cool, I love the way people hack up wordpress and do all these really cool things with it, makes it such a creative platform to use.

    Thanks for this.

    Rob

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  • http://dizzylizzard.com Jamie

    Have similar question to Tauri. Want people to be able to post anonymously, like FMLife dot com.

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  • http://www.steps-to-create-a-website.com Ayan

    Excellent tutorial. Really useful and explains all the in-depth details. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Zach

    How do I do this without installing wordpress, like using the example.wordpress.com hosting?

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  • http://www.startawebsite.info Allister Sinclair

    Very Interesting. Might even be better than Twitter.

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  • http://www.dhrobonil.com dhrobonil

    Thank you very much for this post.I have all ready develop some feature for the p2 theme.These features help all to make post easily in the blog.There I also add sharing image,link,question and posting feature that each authorized blogger can enjoy. You may review that development here : dhrobonil.com/test
    thanks

  • http://www.bname.ru/ Alexander Osipov

    That’s great, never knew it could be that easy!

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  • Marks

    is it possible to add a picture function, where a user can take a picture with a mobile fone or to upload a picture and send it with a tweett

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  • http://www.rgdot.com/bl RG

    Great stuff, glad I found this. Will be setting it up to perhaps try it even as note repository.

  • http://teklessons.blogspot.com Anees

    Great tutorial. just tweeted it

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  • http://www.massimilianodeconca.org Massimiliano

    Thanks for these useful informations.

  • http://teach-me-internet-marketing.com Haroun Kola

    Thanks for the tutorial. I’ve created my fist micro-blogging site following your instructions.
    Please do some more tutorials, I think I’m going to get more involved in this side of design and creation.
    Thanks
    Haroun

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  • http://n/a oliver obrien

    Hi, new to all this twitter stuff, but would like to know if you could set up a basic twitter site for me, give me a price, its bascially twitter but for a certain area, for business and tourists etc, do you think this is poss, i would try myself but im not technical, even though you have made it sound very simple, the time is a factor for me and would be good to have a professional make this for me, what do you think to this suggestion, many thanks, olly

  • http://Ghosts-IT.com Radz Nguyen

    WordPress is no 1 . I think so :) . It is the best code for SEO (search engine optimization) . We are explore about it on our website : http://ghosts-it.com . Thank you for your post :)

  • http://tweeaks.com Jared

    This is why WordPress is so great. You can even create a Twitter site with it. There’s endless possibilities to what you can do. I love it, and this. Thanks.

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  • http://blancheys.com/ Blancheys

    I heard P2 has server issues. I’d still try it on my other blog.

  • Michael

    For people who mentioned Status.net (formerly Laconica), technically everything you publish with that software is Creative Commons Licensed 3.0.

    –Everything–

    So while that works fine for a group working on open source software or media, if your workgroup is slightly more clandestine in nature you might want to go with WordPress P2. Of course you could just *ignore* the CC license and if your site stays truly private it won’t be a problem. That makes me nervous, though. I like Creative Commons in principle. I guess I’m a slave to my ethics :)

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  • http://www.iscutearun.com Arun M

    Great tutorial, Thanks for sharing.

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  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEr-DG7g__8 Jamie

    This is great! Thanks for sharing the basic technique. Now it’s up to us to enhance and optimize what WordPress has to offer. I’m looking forward to your future posts regarding this one.

  • http://twitter.com/entrepreneurssu Cameron Wilson

    Fantastic! Exactly the sort of thing we need more of!

    All the best from me!

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  • Levent

    I thinking of implementing P2 into my site. like; p2.mysite.com or mysite.com/p2
    I want to have two different designs working at the same time.
    Any advices? Is this possible?

    I also can’t decide either having a forum for visitors or an extra P2 themed page…
    I’m really confused about these right now.. you know
    What do you think I should do?

  • http://www.brettwidmann.com Brett Widmann

    Short, helpful, and to the point! love it!

  • http://www.vamban.com Vamban

    P2 theme seems cool. Is there any other alternative theme available for twitter like wordpress blogs?

  • http://kiwimarketinggroup.com Bede

    P2 is an interesting setup. Not suitable for our current project, but definitely something to keep an eye on.

    Thanks for the informative post, it sped up my testing phase, and that’s always appreciated.

  • http://blognou.ro Stan Victor

    Nice tutorial…i really like it!

  • http://www.informationjunkiesanonymous.com Ryah Albatros

    Thanks so much for this! I set up my own private area this afternoon, and it was so simple. Not to mention it looks good too!

  • http://www.optimum7.com Jose

    I just transferred two of my websites from joomla to wp, and the P2 theme has been pristine! thank you for adding to the awesome! WP all on its own is great for optimization, so this set up you’ve laid out here is the perfect way to start.

    Thank you!

  • Alex

    You forgot to mention that the RSS-page is not secured by login. I could reach the RSS of the “twits” from p2 even when I was logged out! Now Im trying to close this bug, or I have to uninstall p2.

    you can test it yourself:
    yoursite.com/wordpress/?feed=rss2

  • Alex

    I fixed the RSS and login issue simply by installing this plugin:
    Absolute Privacy http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/absolute-privacy/

  • Algol

    Good article, really.
    But sadly it don’t consider core problems, as usual on the web.

    For our organization purposes, i’v created a well functional Twitter “clone”, using:
    - WordPress
    - P2 theme
    - “Add Local Avatar” plugin
    - “Enhanced Meta Widget” plugin
    - “WP Hide Dashboard” plugin

    I’ts all gold? No. Two very important problems still remain unsolved:
    01. Permit Subscribers to delete their posts and attachments, with a simple frontpage “Delete post” link
    02. Permit user to self delete their account and all relative posts/attachment

    For first problem, i can’t find on the web a secure, functional and simple solution to permit that.
    For second problem you can use “User self delete” plugin, but free version of this plugin is really vulnerable to stupid SQL-injection. DON’t use this plugin. I don’t know if commercial version is afflicted by the same bug.

    In my opinion these are two really big problems. If you don’t care a penny about user rights about their accounts… sadly you can skip second problem.

    All here is free. WP, templates and plugin, and i don’t pretend anything. I only “pretend” articles that really explain what you can achieve or not with a solution!

    I’ll be very gratefull to anyone who will solve this problems.
    Thanks!

  • https://about.me/kiranbiliyawala Kiran Biliyawala

    Can anyone tell how can I add user registration facility?

  • http://nocreditcheckloans.co.uk/ Sophie

    I just switched from joomla to wp, this a nice tutorial perfect for new guys like me. WordPress is such a great website platform, thanks you crazy cats!

  • http://mymassjournal.com Landon

    Hi.
    Thanks for this it is great. I would like to change the redirect page on log out to be my home page and not the log in page. Can you advise me on which part of the code to make that adjustment and what to write.

    Thank you!