There are currently 2.8 billion social media users worldwide. This means that over a third of the world’s population is using some form of social media. Social media is a commonplace platform for communication today, have you ever considered how to create own social media app?
Building your first social media app can be a challenging experience. To get you started we’ve compiled this introductory guide.
Social media app features
We compiled a list of seven must-have features to keep in mind when you develop your own custom social networking app.
Connection with existing social media
Using existing login information from a social network provider like Facebook, Twitter, or Google, the user can sign in to your app instead of creating a new account. This simplifies registrations and logins for end users.
Opportunities for self-expression
Users look for features that help them to edit the design and styling of the public profile. The app should include some tools and features like customization of profile pictures, cover photo, nicknames, etc.
Users love to connect with their friends and see what they are up to. Social media app developers should create features to allow finding and inviting friends with one click. Also, it should intelligently suggest them based on their shared connectivity as Facebook or Twitter do.
Arranging the newsfeed
Newsfeed involves different types of updates, content delivery network, ways to interact with the content, means to report inappropriate postings etc.
The content can be shown in chronological order. Or you can use complex algorithms to customize the feed and arrange the news based on its importance to a specific user. Some apps also offer personalized content suggestions, using machine learning algorithms to determine your preferences and interests.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are arranging their newsfeeds from the most to the least important.
Interaction with other services
To develop a full-featured app that does so much more than just messaging, it is necessary to integrate with third-party services. The users don’t have to switch between apps if your app will be more akin to a blend of messaging, social gaming, and social media. You can include following services:
- Relationship networks like Facebook, Linkedin or Tinder.
- Media sharing networks such as Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, Vine or Snapchat.
- Online reviews. For example, Yelp or Urbanspoon.
- Discussion forums like Quora, Reddit, and Digg.
- Social publishing platforms as Twitter, Medium, and Tumblr.
- Bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Pinterest, and Flipboard.
- Interest-based networks. Integrate the Last.fm for music fans, or Goodreads for book lovers.
Most users will rather not let anyone know about their interaction. For those reasons, we advise you to include in the social networking apps built-in services for secure private communication.
We highly recommend you to start with the MVP or minimum viable product. MVP is a product with enough features to satisfy the initial customers and provide feedback for future development. A minimum viable product approach helps to announce the product rapidly, and save time and money. Once validation is finished, you can finalize the product.
How to create a social media app
At this stage, you have to define the requirements and the final outcome you want. Also, determine the target audience and what will attract them to use your app. It’s important to know the need of your users to find a special niche while developing a social media app for mobile.
A clickable prototype is a working model of a future application which provides a better understanding of the product. It is much easier to edit an idea and bring changes to it before the development process is started.
- By sketching you are setting the ground for your future interface and visually conceptualize the main features, the layout, and structure of your application.
- Wireframing is the process of creating a mockup of your product. You can find a number of wireframing tools online. The most popular ones are Balsamiq, Moqups, and HotGloo, which allows you to not only drag and drop all your graphic elements but also add button functionality.
- A prototype is mid- to a high-fidelity representation of the final user interface. The goal of a prototype is to simulate the interaction between the user and the interface. Whenever a button is clicked, the appropriate action must occur, mimicking the experience of a full product.
There are two sides to development: the client side (front-end) and the server side (backed).
Front-end involves everything users see on their screens. For Android development, the application needs to be written in Java, while iOS requires Swift or Objective-C. This immediately calls for creating two very different app versions, one for each platform.
If you choose the cross-platform approach we recommend to use frameworks for cross-platform development. For example, React Native.
Now your app has been defined pretty clearly, and it is time to get started on the back-end of your system. You have to set up servers, databases, APIs, and storage solutions.
Let’s mention some popular programming languages and their major frameworks:
- Ruby (Ruby on Rails)
- Python (Django, Flask, Pylons)
- PHP (Laravel)
- Java (Spring)
- Scala (Play)
- JS is also used for backend programming.
Your application needs a place to store its data, and that’s what a database is used for. There are two types of databases: relational such as SQLite, MySQL, PostgreSQL, or NoSQL and non-relational like MongoDB.
Switch for a moment from reading to video, and check some great suggestions of how to build apps by Alexey Grakov.
Run testing at every stage of development process. By testing, you will not only check any errors in the code but test the UX of the project.
The alpha-testing (developers + testing team) includes the following steps:
- Functional testing
- Integration testing
- Unit testing
- Bug fixing
You can also run beta-testing (by actual users). Use beta-testing platforms, for example, Reddit allows one to invite users to beta-test a new application.
After previous stages are done, you have to publish a complete product on App Store and Google Play.
These marketplaces have very different policies when it comes to publishing a new app. Android does not review newly submitted apps right away. They’ll pass by at some point and check it out but you are able to instantly add your app to Google Play.
IOS is different here. Apple reserves the right to review and approve your app before it can go live. There is no set timeframe for this, but you can expect at least a week before you hear back from them.
Quantitative metrics for social media application
To analyze a social media app, you can use the metrics that track engagement and help to make the right decision. Following are some essential ones:
- Acquisition: CPI & CAC. CPI (Cost Per Install) is calculated by tracking installs of users that came from advertising. The formula for calculating Cost-per install is quite simple: Your total ad spends divided by the number of installs.
CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) is the cost associated in convincing a customer to buy a product/service. This cost is incurred by the organization to convince a potential customer.
- User activation. A number of users in comparison to a number of downloads. Its actions are customized for each app.
- User Retention and Churn rate. Customer retention is a measure of how many of your customers are loyal to your brand and return for another visit. Customer retention only deals with existing customers, with no consideration for new customers. Churn, sometimes shows how many customers don’t return to your app. Customer churn takes into account new customers in its calculation.
- User engagement. User engagement is a number of target actions taken in the app.
- Traction. Traction shows patterns of the month to month growth of users.
- Burn rate. The burn rate is the pace at which you are spending down your cash reserves. It allows you to measure how fast you are going through your balance.
If you want to receive a full tech stack for an app, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let’s take a closer look at monetization and development cost.
How to monetize your social media app?
Building apps is a business and you need to earn money to keep going. But, with a number of options available for monetization, what tactic should you adopt?
The following video explains how to monetize your app.
How Much Does it Cost to Make a Social Network App?
The costs of building social media app can range from $25k to $250k depends on features you want to add. The more features and the more robust infrastructure you plan to implement — the higher the development costs will be.
Here are some approximate development cost estimates of the most popular social apps:
- Facebook: $420k — $465k
- Instagram-like product: $100k — $300k
- WhatsApp: $120k
- Pinterest: $120k
- Vine: $125k-$175k
Note, MVPs will cost you at least half of that.
Now you know the basic steps of social media app development.
Want to make an app for social media or integrate social features, but don’t want to spend time on and programming? VironIT services can be very useful. Our team has vast expertise in iOS, Android, and web applications development and chatbots launching. If you want more information, please contact us.