Ever since people got ahold of smartphones and tablets, they have been relying on social media apps to stay connected. As of March 2023, there are 4.9 billion social media users worldwide, and it is predicted that this number will grow to 5.85 billion by 2027.
It’s incredible how people spend their lives glued to their phones, but it is a fact. And that opens up an opportunity for you to create your very own social media app that people will love.
We understand that the process can be difficult and intimidating. So, we’ve put together this blog to provide you with all the information and resources you need to create a successful social media app!
What Exactly is a Social Media App?
It is almost impossible to meet someone who is not on any social network app. If you do meet someone, they would be wondering what you do in one.
How exactly would you explain to them the terms “tweeting,” “sharing,” and “liking?”
To start off, it’s useful to know what a social media app means. Essentially, it’s an application where users can engage with each other by commenting, sharing photos and videos, and other content posted by others within the app.
Being in a social app comes with its pros and cons. People now have an easier way to stay connected with family and friends, but this can also lead to a world of cyberbullying, hate speech, and vapid content. So, everyday users are now looking for meaningful and cohesive apps.
It is thus important to create an app that encourages safety and thoughtful engagement with its users. Essentially, many have wanted to create a social media app that people will love.
The Benefits of Creating Social Media Apps Today
While the social media app market is oversaturated with big companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, there are still opportunities for you to develop your own social media app.
Here are a few:
Reach Your Community
When you create a social media app, you can think outside the box and gain like-minded audiences. It allows you to connect with your community directly and quickly without having to compromise your creative vision or conform to standard design and functionality. With your own social media app, you have the freedom to express your thoughts without character limits and design a community space according to your preferences.
Make Your Brand Known
Running a small business or a startup? Having your own social network app allows you to reach out to potential clients, partners, and investors a lot faster. The increased visibility will help you make your brand more recognizable and create more opportunities for business growth. You can also improve your branding and marketing strategies with your own app.
Earn Money on Your Own Terms
Social media apps can make money by running ads, offering in-app purchases, and charging subscription fees. But the thing is, you can’t always sell stuff to your followers on regular social media platforms. That’s where having your own customized social media app comes in handy. You can build a digital marketplace right into your app, making it easy for your followers to buy whatever they want with just one click. Plus, you get to make money the way you want to.
Be Part of a Growing Industry
The social media app industry is booming, and it’s just getting bigger. We often hear about the success stories of social media apps like TikTok, Airbnb, Tinder, and many more. This means that it is the perfect time for you to join in on the trend and make your mark on the industry with your own app.
Use Advanced Technology
From Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Virtual Reality, the possibilities for technology are endless. Take advantage of the latest technology to make your social media app unique and stand out. You can use AI to recommend content, offer personalized experiences, or even create a virtual assistant. With more advanced technology, you can keep your followers engaged and entertained.
Creating a social media app is an ambitious project that requires a lot of hard work, but it can be really rewarding if done right. So, we give you a step-by-step guide on how to develop one.
10 Steps to Develop Social Media Apps
Whether you are a digital agency, an independent developer, or an aspiring entrepreneur, you need to understand the basics of making a successful social media app.
Learn how you can get started by following these steps:
1. Determine Your Target Audience
In developing a social media app in 2023, it’s crucial to focus on the needs of specific app users or how they will use it. Building a generic app will not attract users who prefer more specialized spaces.
The real opportunity lies in creating narrow social networking apps that cater to specific subsets of people or allow them to do something that they can’t currently do. The more narrow the app’s focus, the better the outcomes will be.
Having an idea is not enough. Conducting market research and analyzing current trends can help you narrow down your target audience.
In order to succeed in the realm of social media app adoption, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of the features that potential users prefer and the gaps that exist within your competition.
2. Choose the Appropriate Social Media App Type
Before you start building a social network app, you have to know the different types out there. It’ll help you research the market and competition better. And you can get some inspiration by checking out the most popular social media app types.
Here are the social media mobile app types you could choose from:
The purpose of social networks is to bring people together and create communities. Here, users can connect with each other, share content, and express themselves. Facebook is the most popular example of a social network app, and it’s the most used app all over the world, with users spending an average of 19.7 hours per month. LinkedIn, however, is a popular professional networking app.
Media Sharing Networks
This category of social media allows users to share and exchange media files, such as photos and videos. A unique aspect of these platforms is their ability to scale content, with some allowing for short video posts and others enabling users to create their own video channels. Examples include Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat.
Users can share their opinions and evaluations of companies, brands, restaurants, products, and more on consumer review networks. These networks can be a valuable resource for businesses since positive reviews can attract new customers. Various review platforms focus on specific industries, such as restaurants (Yelp), hotels (TripAdvisor), and other travel destinations.
This social media type focuses on knowledge sharing and includes communities, forums, and Q&A services. Examples of modern platforms include Quora and Reddit. These networks allow users worldwide to start discussions, ask questions, and receive answers from the community. Forums can be general or specialized in their topics.
Blogging and Publishing
As the name suggests, blogging and publishing platforms are for authors to share their work. These networks give users the opportunity to blog about any topic, build a following, and even monetize content. Some popular platforms that are included are Twitter, Medium, and Tumblr.
One of the most compelling benefits of social networks is their ability to connect people who share similar interests. These interest-based networks allow users to find like-minded individuals who share their passion for a specific topic or activity. For instance, Last.fm is a platform for music enthusiasts, while Goodreads is geared toward book lovers.
3. Adopt a Monetization Strategy
Once you’ve chosen the type of social media app that you’re building, the next step is to think about how you can make it profitable. There are several strategies that you can use to monetize your app, and you just have to find the right one for you.
Here are some of the most popular strategies that you can use:
Social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok generate revenue through advertising. These platforms leverage their vast user base by collecting personal information such as age, gender, location, and interests to create highly targeted ads. As a result, brands are increasingly drawn to these platforms to promote their products and services. This is evident in the popularity of TikTok, which boasts over a billion monthly active users.
In this type of monetization model, users can sign up for an app without paying and can use basic features. However, additional functionality is available to users who pay for a subscription. A well-known example of this is LinkedIn, which offers some features for free but requires a paid subscription for things like job-matching and educational courses.
Popular social media apps offer an opportunity to buy stickers or filters through the app to generate revenue. This approach is commonly used on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. TikTok also has a preferred method of monetization through in-app purchases, such as setting up an in-app currency to receive donations.
One way to monetize your social media mobile app is by offering a subscription model where users pay a monthly or yearly fee. To simplify the process of billing each user, you can integrate your app with SaaS subscription billing software.
4. Create a List of Features You Want to See in Your App
Social media app development varies depending on specific cases. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution that works for everyone. However, there are certain features that are common among these types of apps.
To give you an idea of what a social media app should have, here is a list of features that most apps include:
Letting users create a personal profile is an essential feature. It allows the user to fill out basic information such as age, gender, location, interests, and a photo. This helps other users learn more about the person behind the profile.
Depending on the social network app you want to build, you may want to include push notifications. This will notify users to stay up-to-date on new updates or messages from other users.
Timeline or feed
A news feed or timeline is a great way to let users view updates from friends, family, and other users. Facebook is a great example of this feature in action.
Whether it’s finding users or posts, a search feature is an important part of any social media app. It allows users to quickly find what they are looking for without having to scroll through endless pages.
This feature enables users to communicate with each other directly through instant messaging. Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct, and WhatsApp are some examples of this type of feature.
In the age of new technology, you can incorporate several advanced features in your social media app. You can use this to improve user engagement and make your app stand out from the rest.
Here are some potential features worth considering:
Augmented reality and face filters
Up to this day, funny and beauty filters remain popular among social media users. Incorporating augmented reality (AR) and face filters into your app can make it more attractive to users.
AI is hot on blogging platforms right now, so integrating it into your social media app can help you stay ahead of the curve. AI chatbots are virtual assistants that can answer simple questions and help users navigate the app.
Content that disappears after 24 hours is usually referred to as ephemeral content. Snapchat was the first popular app to incorporate this feature, and Instagram followed. It allows users to share fun and silly moments without worrying about them getting archived forever.
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
Blockchain technology is transforming digital financial transactions. NFTs are unique digital assets that can be bought and sold on a blockchain network. This means users can buy and sell exclusive digital artwork or virtual collectibles.
Short video content
Bite-sized videos that are 15 seconds to one minute long are proving popular among users. Short video content can help your app stay relevant and keep the attention of your target audience. This is what Generation Z prefers, as they don’t have too much patience for long-form content.
These are just a few of the features you may want to consider for social network app development. The possibilities are endless, so think about what would work best for you and include the essential features a social media app must have.
5. Understand the Technology Stack Required
To clarify, if you are looking to build a new social media app, it’s important to consider that Android and Apple use different technological stacks. Knowing the technology stack that you need to use ahead of time can help save you time and money in the long run.
It involves selecting the right programming languages, frameworks, and tools to build a robust and scalable platform. The stack will determine how the app will work and perform, so it’s important to consider factors like user experience, security, and performance.
In app development, it’s important to understand the technology stack and how the different components fit together. Doing so will help you create a successful social media app that meets user demands.
6. Determine Who Will Build Your App
Unless you know how to code, you’ll need someone else to build your app. It’s important to choose a developer that is experienced in working with the technology stack of your chosen social media platform.
You have several options for finding the right developers:
Hire freelance professionals
While hiring freelance professionals might be an affordable option for social media app development, it comes with potential challenges. Managing freelancers requires advanced project management skills to ensure they work together effectively. Additionally, there is no guarantee that they can deliver the project as expected.
In finding the right freelancer for your project, look for user reviews and portfolios that demonstrate their expertise. Ensure that you have an agreement that outlines the project’s scope, timeline, and payment terms.
Outsource to a software development firm
Getting third-party services from professional software development firms is an ideal option for startups and small businesses. It’s important to do your due diligence when selecting a firm, as they will be responsible for the entire development process.
Look for a firm experienced in developing social media apps and with a good track record. Make sure to ask for references from clients they have worked with in the past.
If you’re looking for a reliable firm, StarTechUP is the perfect choice for your project. Our team of highly skilled developers has extensive experience in building robust and reliable social media apps that meet user demands.
Build an in-house development team
If you have the resources and time to invest, building an in-house development team is the best option. This way, you’ll have complete control over the entire social media app development process, from design to implementation.
You’ll also need to provide your developers with all the necessary tools and resources they need to develop and maintain your app.
Use a social media app builder
Low-code or no-code app development platforms offer an easy and inexpensive way to develop social media apps. They reduce the amount of time and save more money it takes to build a basic app.
However, keep in mind that these platforms are limited in terms of customization and features. If you need a highly customized social media app, using a social media app builder is not the right option. However, it could be used to create an app design to demonstrate the basic structure and functionalities to a developer.
No matter what approach you take to develop your social media app, it’s important to consider the needs of your users. Designing an app that meets their demands is key to creating a successful social media platform.
7. Let the Development Process Begin
It’s time to create your social media app!
At this stage, the app development can be broken down into phases. Each one is essential to ensuring you have a successful product in the end.
Let’s see it in detail:
During the discovery phase, it is important to research the market trends, determine the business objectives, collect requirements, and create wireframes and prototypes. Usually, you will look at existing apps in the market, analyze user behavior, and develop a concept to ensure you have an app that stands out from the crowd.
At the end of this phase, you should have a list of features categorized into two groups: essential and non-essential. Essential features are necessary to address the primary user’s problem, while non-essential features are optional and can be included in future updates.
Creation of UX/UI Design
After gathering information during the discovery phase, it’s time to create a great user experience. This is a process of creating visuals: UI elements such as buttons, icons, colors, and typography. It is also important to create wireframes, which are the basic structure of an app that determines how users interact with it.
By the end of this stage, you should have visuals that reflect the app’s look and feel. You may already imagine the user journey and how they will interact with the interface.
In this phase, developers will write the code for your new social media app. Regardless of whether you want your app available in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, the developers will ensure that the app is optimized to work well on different mobile platforms.
This phase may take a while, from 6 months to a year. During this time, you will also have to test the app several times to find out if it responds to user input, is secure, and runs smoothly.
8. Launch Your App
When the social network app development process is complete, you will need to launch it on the app stores.
Submitting your social media app to the App Store or Play Store includes performing several tasks, such as creating a developer account, uploading the app, setting up an Apple ID, and registering with Google Play.
Once your app is live in the stores, you can start spreading the word about it. Utilize social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to share your app’s release with friends, family, and existing networks.
For extra exposure, you can also reach out to bloggers and influencers in your target audience. Another option is to use a digital marketing agency to help you promote your social media app. This could increase the likelihood of it getting more downloads and gaining traction.
9. Track the Results and Draw Solutions from User Feedback
The success of social apps is determined by how users react to it. To track the performance of your app and make sure it meets customer expectations, you will need to monitor user feedback.
To improve your social media app, keep an eye out for user struggles and note which features are receiving positive reviews. This will help you identify areas that require enhancement or addition. Employ A/B testing to collect feedback from diverse user groups and use these insights to create a more customer-friendly and appealing next version.
You should also use analytics tools, like Google Analytics, to track the usage of your social media app and user retention. This will help you understand what is and isn’t working, allowing you to make changes accordingly.
By keeping track of your app’s performance and user interaction, you can be sure that your social media app is meeting customer expectations.
10. Be Consistent in Maintenance and Support
Maintaining your social network app is an ongoing process. During this phase, developers will monitor the server and update it to ensure that the app is running smoothly.
This includes patching security risks, fixing bugs, and making improvements based on user feedback. You should also consider distributing regular updates to keep your users engaged with the social media app.
It is also important to offer customer support, as many users may encounter issues when using your app. You will need to be available and responsive to handle user queries and provide assistance whenever necessary.
That’s it! Developing a social media app from scratch is a long and challenging process. But by following this step-by-step guide, you can create an intuitive and engaging app that users will love.
Let’s Build Your Social Networking App!
In the age of smartphones and AI, niche social media apps that cultivates relationships with customers are becoming more and more popular.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking to launch a new social media app or an existing business looking to expand your reach, there’s no denying the potential of a successful social media app. But before you can make it happen, you must first understand the social media app development process.
We at StarTechUP have been helping companies create and launch successful mobile apps for years, and we’re here to help you create the perfect social media app.
Our experienced team of developers, designers, and digital marketers is ready to take your idea and turn it into reality. We’ll help you define the user journey, design an intuitive UI/UX, develop the back-end code, and create a secure testing environment.
Our experts will also ensure that your app is suitable for App Store and Google Play, as well as provide user support and ongoing maintenance.
Are you ready to take the plunge? Contact us today!