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How to Create a Social Media App [2020]

How to create a social media app and site! This has become a trending question especially because of the success of social network giants such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and many more. Just to put the popularity in perspective, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram now boast more than 2 billion, 370 million, and 700 million monthly users respectively.

However, the one caveat here is these networks are generalistic and broad in nature. They are designed to cater to practically anyone with an internet connection. For example, Facebook offers everything between business pages and marketplace to networking and user-generated content. This opens up the opportunity to create a social network for a niche, a highly specialized social media site designed to cater to people with specific goals.

With the rapid development of technology and a movement to make no-code product development actually work for entrepreneurs, there are many options to create social media apps.

In this post, we’ll answer some of the pertinent questions such as “how to make a social media site?”, “how to make the social media app work in terms of business value?”. Depending on the use case, a social network could be a stand-alone site or an integrated social component inside an existing app.

For example, DeineTierwelt, a german marketplace in the pet segment integrated a social network inside the app with Tribe Platform to deliver a social experience to the existing users.

 

Before moving to the way social media sites can be created, let’s first discuss the types of social networks based on functionality.

Different types of social media

Since the social network needs to serve one primary function, based on this objective, we can segregate the social media sites into the following categories:

  • Relationship networks – Networks that are used to build a relationship between people. There are several examples in this space: personal networking (Facebook),  professional networking (Linkedin), and match-making services (Tinder).
  • Media-based networks – This type of social network enable members to upload videos and images so that they can get updates from the other members. Popular examples are Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Vimeo, Snapchat. A critical factor is the scaling of content. For example, some allow short videos, while others allow members to build their own video channels.
  • Web reviews – These social media are a huge repository of data that empowers users to gather all the necessary information to make purchasing decisions. For example, TripAdvisor is based on the functionality to allow people to leave comments on hotels, restaurants, travel destinations. And Yelp is based on geolocation with the ability to post reviews and recommendations on local businesses.
  • Discussion forums – Online forums, Q&A-services are one of the earliest versions of social media. Modern social networks in this segment are Quora and Reddit in terms of popularity. These sites based on the ability to empower users to share knowledge.
  • Online publishing platforms – For this type of social media services related to blogging and micro-blogging platforms where users create and publish text and media content. These include such popular platforms as Twitter, Medium, and Tumblr.
  • Bookmarking sites – StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Flipboard are services where the user collects the content in the personal library, which can be followed by other members of the community. Typically, these social media study interests to offer more relevant content.
  • Interest-based networks – The most lucrative opportunity that provides social networks is to find and connect people with a shared interest. For example, SoundCloud is a network for music lovers and Product Hunt is a community of new software product enthusiasts.

How to create a social media app

Now, we’ll cover the primary pointers to consider when conceptualizing a social network.

Zero in on your community

Similar to building any other product or service, you need to gain an understanding of your audience. In this case, your community! The social networking platform you are creating must meet the goals of your audience and that starts with understanding their needs, likes, and dislikes.  This way you can get a clear picture of what the members of your social network would want to achieve and how you can appeal to their goals.

In some cases, there might not be an immediate need for your network, however, if you have the demographics and psychographic data, you would be in a better position to appeal to the latent need.

Finalize the features and functions

The features and functions of your social network would stem from the unique goals that your community would fulfill for the members. Essentially every social media has some common elements such as user profile, networking capability, activity feed, content posting, reactions (comments and likes), and notifications.

Apart from that, you need to define and breakdown each and every function — right from registration, privacy and security to third-party integration and moderation.

Technology infrastructure

Finalizing the features and functionalities would lead you to the next stage in discovery, i.e., finding the technology infrastructure to support your social network.

If you choose to do it by yourself then you need to prepare a list of relevant questions to ask. Here is a free template offered by Tribe to help you with finalizing the requirements and selecting the technology vendors. You can leverage the pre-built technology infrastructure offered by a solution such as Tribe or go with a custom technology stack from scratch.

You can also analyze existing social networking platforms and note the technologies they have used. This learning process will help you figure out various issues and opportunities for your social media network.

Activity feed

A social network site without an activity feed? There is no such thing. Nowadays, activity streams are the core of every social media website. Facebook introduced this feature first and since he sets the standards on the market, the concept went mainstream and affected everyone.

The fascination people have with their peers activity is real. We want to know what they are doing, how they are feeling every moment of the day. Failing to develop a quality activity feed can affect the attractiveness of your social media network.

For example, an activity feed of Tribe allows you to connect your users and help them consume personalized content. They stay tuned with the comments, likes, and shares, which are shown in the news feed.

activity feed

Post types

When users join your social media site, they would be creating different types of content. And enabling or disabling certain post types depends on the use case.

Social networking sites allow link sharing (Hacker news), video (Tik Tok), image posts (Pinterest), polls (Reddit), Q&A (Quora), long-form articles (Medium), short status updates (Twitter). Another feature to consider when allowing discussions is a rich text editor (WYSIWYG) to enable the members to create beautiful and engaging content. This would the core feature of your social network.

Different views for content

How to allow the members to consume content easily? That can be solved by filters and sorting capability for your social media site. Remember, users will see only what you allow them to see. Do you have enough content viewing options available? If the answer is no, then check the list of the popular functionalities:

– Trending posts

– Latest posts

– Popular posts in last week

– Posts in different topics (hashtags)

– Posts based on the latest activity

This allows your users to quickly change the view and access the historical data easily. This is a must-have a user-centric design. Since each member comes with unique preferences, allowing people to work with their choice gives flexibility and keeps users engaged.

Notification system

A powerful notification system helps to keep the members engaged. This leads to more users returning to your platform and boosts the retention rate. Notifications could be inside the social network, via email, integration with pre-existing tools such as Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Slack, etc.

A critical structure

Once the user-specific features are listed, you must prepare the growth stage. Certain general rules apply for building all web pages and are out of huge importance for your social media networking platform since you are trying to engage users in social activity and keep them longer on your site.

There are three must-have pillars that you need to incorporate if you want your social media network to be successful and profitable.

Moderation – Ensure you have a strong team to moderate spammers and keep your community safe. There powerful tools to detect spammy links, NSFW content, profanity, and more. For instance, you can also set a rule so that users with a certain reputation score would be able to post content.

Security – Use reliable security systems that will make your users feel like they can do everything on your social media platform without worrying about privacy intrusion and data leaks.

Scalability – When you start building a social network from scratch you have to consider growth. Your social media site has to be able to expand easily and quickly so it can follow the pace of your growth.

Acquiring users for your social network

After creating the social media app, the biggest and the critical challenge would be your go-to-market strategy.  This covers the concrete understanding of your target audience and improving the social network with the right product-market fit to attract and retain the users.

There are a many marketing channels to attract potential users and gain brand visibility. It could be anything from a viral content and word of mouth campaign to referrals and paid ads.

Here are some common tools:

Paid ads – Search ads and social media ads can help you gain initial traction. Create multiple paid ads for a certain period of time on different channels such as Google, Bing, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram. Use different types of copy and test the type of messaging that invokes clicks and ultimately the conversion rate.

Quora and other forums – Do you see questions related to the domain in which your social network operates? Great opportunity to pitch in, share your knowledge, and plug in your social media site.

Video and blogging – Create your own blog where you can share your ideas around your new social media platform. Enable people to read useful information and add value to your content. Create videos with a viral touch to ensure that people share your content with their network.

Built-in virality – Do you have a proposition that can be used to tap into the network of the existing users so that you can acquire users via referral channel.

Media outreach – The best tactic is to contact blogging influencers, reporters, and make them write a piece for your social media platform on their sites and blogs. When other portals mention your social media network or write news about you, you need to act immediately. Keep them engaged, and build a long-term relationship.

Options for creating a social media app

There are largely four avenues to creating a social media app or site based on the level of customization required. Given below is a breakdown:

SaaS Solution

Cloud-based social network builders are SaaS platforms with out-of-the-box social features that you can configure on your own to build a social community site. Some of the SaaS solutions like Tribe can be fully customized so you select, organize, and showcase different components of the social media site based on your preference.

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Open-source social networking software

The social media software can be downloaded and configured on your server. They can be either free and open-source or paid solutions. They are similar to SaaS solutions in terms of functionality but offer more flexibility in terms of control over the platform as the social site is fully hosted by the owner (self-hosted).

CMS with social network extension

Popular CMS like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla can be used to build social media sites by using purpose-built plugins that add social features to the CMS solution. These plugins can be free, freemium or completely premium in terms of pricing.

Developing from scratch

If you have an idea like Snapchat which is completely unique and can’t be fulfilled by customizing any of the existing social media platforms, the only way is to build the network from scratch. That’s where development companies specialized in building social media sites can help.

Given below is a comparison of different factors to consider when selecting a solution for building social media sites.

how to make a social media app

Start building your social media site

In this post, we discussed different types of social networks, how to make a social media app, different channels to acquire users and various options to consider when building a social media site. Now, it’s time for you to start working on this and launch your social network!


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Preetish

Marketing at Tribe. I raise ARR for a living! Love motorbikes and new cuisines.

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