Maybe this is a sign of the times, but you know when something has gone mainstream when there’s a WordPress plugin to do it.

The world’s favourite (and free) CMS (content management system) has Groupon’d itself up with a plugin that allows you to run group-buy flash sales and daily deals on any wordpress powered site or blog.  All you need is a PayPal account to collect the cash.

So if you fancy yourself as the next Andrew Mason – CEO of Groupon, the fastest growing web business ever (wordpress blog to $800m+ revenue in 18 months), then check out GroupBuyingSite.com for a new Group Buy wordpress plugin that could turn your site or blog into the next Groupon.

Or not.  Of course, Groupon is powered not just by a great idea and great deals, but by hefty investment, a not-so-small small army of deal negotiators and big advertising budgets.  But whilst dreams of becoming Andrew Mason 2.0 will stay just that – dreams – the democratisation of Group Buy technology is nevertheless an opportunity for brand sites, bloggers and small businesses alike – particularly in specialised verticals.  Run a special interest business, brand site, web service, blog or e-zine?  It could be worth shelling out the $200 for the premium plugin (nb. the plugin was developed independently, not by Groupon) to boost revenue or monetize your site.  The B2B space, in particular, and in our opinion, is ripe to get Groupon’d. For instance, why isn’t there a Group Buy site for local deals on office supplies? With the famous five minute install of WordPress + activating the Group Buy Plugin, it could be you.

A word of caution though, it’s not about the technology, nor the Group Buy concept, it’s about the deals.  To be successful, you’ll need an ‘in’ with retailers or service providers in your area – to negotiate unique and compelling deals worth talking about.  You’ll also need to a user base to whom you can promote the deals – Mason and co. have deep pockets and can afford to buy users.  If you don’t have a few million to spare – building an email list from scratch will be prohibitively expensive.  And it’s worth noting we haven’t seen any real life examples of the new GroupBuyingSite’s Group Buy plugin in action yet (there is a demo in the site though); perhaps it’ll be worth waiting for the first showcase examples, and contacting theowners for testimonials and feedback.  We’ve contacted the developers for a review copy, which we’ll review for you.

Finally, we’d strongly recommend listening to the experience of others experimenting with Group Buy before starting out.  In particular, Peter Alik over at the wine industry’s digital think tank, Vintank who recently ran a Group Buy social commerce experiment and has candidly shared insights and lessons from the experience – is worth listening to. Remember the LEAD strategy for social commerce begins with L – Listen (Experiment, Apply, Develop) – listening to your users, and to social commerce experience in your category.

Of course, there are plenty of Groupon Clone site scripts out in the wild for inspiration and purchase for a few hundred dollars (explaining the myriad of Groupon clones – Microsoft is even getting in on the game), and then there are Group Buy aggregator scripts available if you want to run a specialised Deal Radar or Yipit deal notification service for a particular product category.  And that’s before we consider Facebook applications that let you run Group Buy deals in Facebook.  But what potentially sets the new Group Buy WordPress plugin aside is precisely that it’s a WordPress plugin, a huge user base combined with ease of installation could trigger a wave of new group buy sites.  Plug and Pay.  Group Buy without tears.  And because it’s WordPress, users will not be tied to the original developers for support – although they offer it – the plugin will speak the language of one of the largest developer communities out there.

At the very least – the new Group Buy WordPress plugin should be good for innovation – further democratising the technology in a way that will allow the best ideas, not the deepest pockets, to flourish.  And more importantly for your business in 2011, the plugin could be your long-shot low-cost bet on profiting from the most successful business model of 2010.