Social media is a big part of our everyday life. And now, it’s hard to meet a person that doesn’t scroll news feed on Instagram or Facebook. Recent research stated that for January 2020, 3.8B people use social media worldwide, and each user spends around 3 hours a day on social media.
These astonishing numbers are like a pie, and every entrepreneur wants to take a piece of it. In this article, we’ll discuss how to make a social media app, what features should be included, and how to monetize social media apps. Without further ado, let’s begin.
Types of Social Media Apps
Before you start making your own social media app, you need to know the market you want to enter. There are many types of social media apps with their own purposes and audience, so you need to choose wisely. Let’s consider them all.
- Social networks. Made to connect people via thematic groups, business relationships, sharing thoughts, and simply chatting.
- Media sharing networks. Their main purpose is to share media content like photos, videos, and so on.
- Discussion forums. These are perfect places to discuss various topics with real people.
- Content sharing networks. Slightly different from media sharing platforms. Let users save useful links to various websites and resources.
- Consumer review networks. Holds thousands upon thousands of user reviews on various goods and services.
- Blogging and publishing networks. Places where bloggers can post their thoughts and share their knowledge with articles.
What Type is the Best Choice?
The answer is up to you. Choose that type that is closer to you and consider competitors in the market you want to enter. For example, here are the most popular social media apps, according to Statista research.
Features for Social Media App
To make a social media app that will fulfill its purposes, you need to include important features in it. The list may vary depending on the app type. We’ll take all features and split them into MVP features and Additional features. Besides, we’ll take standard social media, for example, and list all needed features for it.
MVP Features for Social Media App
These features are mandatory to make social media apps. They allow fulfilling the most essential tasks that every user wants to see in the social media app.
This feature is the most important one since you must provide access to your social media for users. It would be wise to make several login/sign-up options to make this process more convenient and fast for users. And don’t forget about the “Forgot password” feature that is a real lifesaver. The most popular technologies that are used for the implementation of login features are Facebook SDK or Google SDK, Amazon SES or SNS (login via the phone number or SMS)
The appearance of the user page also depends on the type of application. However, mandatory profile elements such as connecting with other users and viewing their media or messages are essential. Besides, a well-thought-out page design and easy navigation encourage people to subscribe, so it’s worth considering this point well.
To find new friends and interesting bloggers in the app, a search function is simply necessary. To expand the search feature’s functionality, you can include search by tags, location, names, etc. Elastic Search is usually used to implement this feature.
One of the features that attract a huge number of users. Users always want to stay up to date so give them this opportunity. The news feed can be made on the main screen, so users can see it immediately after they launch the app. Or make it the old-fashioned way, add the news feed in a separate tab.
The ability to chat with friends and send messages to other users is an important part of any social network. Add this feature, and you will definitely not go wrong. And to expand the usual functionality, add divisions into different channels to communicate with several users at the same time. For this functionality, socket.io is usually used.
Add the ability for users to attach various files to posts like photos, videos, and so on. This feature will allow them to make their personal pages brighter, more interesting and allow them to share various moments of life.
Push notifications are an integral part of the application’s user interaction. Whether it’s the latest news in a favorite group or a new photo of a friend on his page, the user can be notified of these events via push notifications. FСM is used to implement this feature.
These features are not mandatory, but they are greatly expanding existing functionality. They can be added when the main app version is released and receives its first feedback and popularity. Let’s consider all additional features that might be added to the social media app.
This feature became very popular in recent years since it allows users to add various effects to their photos and videos. Instagram and Snapchat have a whole bunch of various AR effects like rabbit ears, sparks, and masks. It’s a great way to attract and entertain your users. Adding AR technologies is not an easy task, but many useful tools help make it much easier, such as ML Kit and ARCore.
Adding editing tools to social media is another way to attract and retain social media users. Moreover, you can come up with hundreds of ways how to implement this feature. You can add options like cropping images, rotation, collage, deleting various objects from the pictures, and so on. The most powerful tool to add editing in a social media app is FFmpeg.
This feature adds content to the news feed rely on the user’s location. For example, a user visited a restaurant, the app analyzes its location and shows content based on the location of this restaurant (other users’ photos that visited this restaurant, reviews, special offers, and so on). Google Places is a must-have tool if you want to add location-based content to your social media app.
Team Members and Tech Stack to Make Social Media App
Even though it’s possible to make a social media app on your own, without proper tech knowledge and experience, it will be a challenging task to fulfill. So it would be better to gather a team of professionals to achieve a smooth development process and fast time-to-market.
Development Team Members
To make a social media app you don’t need an army of developers and designers. The whole development process can be made by a small squad of specialists. And here’s a must-have staff to make a social media app.
- Project manager
- UI/UX designer
- 2-3 iOS developers
- 2-3 Android developers
- 1-2 Backend developers
- 1-2 QA engineers
You’ve got a perfect team to make the app of your dreams. But what technologies are the best for these kinds of apps? Let’s consider them all.
DEVELOPMENT FOR ANDROID
- Kotlin would be a great choice
- OkHttp 3 for network development
DEVELOPMENT FOR iOS
- Swift as the main programming language
- Alamofire for networking
- Node.js as a programming language
- Express 4 as the main framework
- MySQL for database implementation
- socket.io for chat implementation
- Amazon SES, Amazon SNS to make a sign up feature
- Swagger as the main API
- FCM to make push notifications
- Google Maps to implement geolocation
- Amazon S3 to establish storage
- Elastic Emails for email system implementation
- Elastic Search to make the search feature
- ML Kit and AR Core to make AR filters
How to Monetize Your Social Media App
There are a lot of ways of how popular social media apps make money. For example, Facebook made $17.65B in the 3rd quarter of 2019 using the advertisement monetization model. You can choose between three monetization models.
This is the most common one, and nearly all famous social media utilize this monetization model. This way allows users to use the app for free, while product owners can earn funds to make further app improvements. For example, Youtube shows ads before playing a video.
Premium features can add additional functionality to your social media app and help you raise funds. But this method is a little bit tricky since you need to come up with wow features, so users want to buy them.
The main goal of this method is to attract funding from venture capitalists. There are quite a few examples of such a system for the development of large social networks using this method. Everyone’s favorite Facebook and Twitter started this way.
And that’s pretty much it. We have considered all the details related to the development of the actual social media app, and now you are completely ready to conquer this part of the market.
Vitaly Kuprenko is a technical writer at Cleveroad. It’s a web and mobile app development company in Ukraine. He enjoys telling about tech innovations and digital ways to boost businesses.