If you’ve considered getting into the very lucrative networking space, you may be wondering how to make a social media app that will stand up against industry titans such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok. We’ve got the answer.
Social media applications have been growing in popularity ever since MySpace was launched in 2003. Nearly two decades later, social networks have vastly expanded in order to cater to a wide range of audiences, and so have their respective apps.
However, before you can create a social media app, it’s important to gain an understanding of the fundamentals of media sharing networks and current social media trends so you can determine your target audience and cater to user expectations. Plus, since there are already a significant number of social media apps on the market, your app idea will undoubtedly need to be creative. Instead of reinventing the wheel, you’ll need to conceptualize a completely different alternative so your social app will go viral (and stay viral).
In this post, we show you how to make a social media app by breaking down all the critical elements involved in the social media app design and development process, including the many benefits of social media applications, determining what features to include in your app in order to provide an exceptional User Experience (UX), and what it takes to bring your social networking project idea to life. First, let’s take a look at the history of social networking and how social media apps have evolved over time.
Why Create a Social Media App?
Social media can take businesses to the next level. Where print-based advertisements and even web-based ads can fall short, social media offers a much broader scope for marketing your products and services and even allows you the ability to communicate directly with customers.
Greater Brand Outreach
With billions of people using social networking applications every day and around the world, there is no limit to the range of potential customers that brands can reach. Even “mom and pop” shops can easily market products locally as in another country.
By increasing online exposure through social media, brands can make their products and services available to larger audiences worldwide. Naturally, this means they’ll enjoy a larger number of sales and profits.
Provide Better Customer Service
User interaction is critical when it comes to promoting a brand. Customers want to know that businesses are available to address their needs and that they won’t have to jump through hoops in order to speak with a representative. Through social media, brands can minimize the time it takes for customers to ask questions or voice their concerns and can resolve their needs directly through the application.
Obtain Positive Reviews
Social media apps can also help brands gain more customers through positive feedback. Including a feedback option and encouraging current customers to share their experiences establishes authenticity and generally makes brands more appealing. Businesses can even promote testimonial sharing by offering a discount or giveaway for users who provide reviews.
Features to Consider When Building a Social Media App
What are the best features of a social media app? That is NOT an easy question to answer.
Social media apps can be used for a variety of purposes, and the features that should be included in a new app should be based on target audience preferences.
Some users prefer the original objective of social networking and use these apps to stay connected with their loved ones. Others favor the self or business marketing element of it and use these apps to obtain references, find employment, or promote their brand. For this reason, it’s important to ensure the app you build can be used along with social media analytics tools as many companies have multiple social media profiles. Then there are users who use these apps as a means to further a social cause or connect with like-minded individuals.
However, although the reasons for using social media vary from person to person, there are certain features that all top social media apps have in common. These include, but are not limited to: an easy-to-navigate User Interface (UI), a great User Experience (UX) design, a messaging system, and content sharing capabilities.
Customization Options: Selecting the Features for Your Unique Social Media App
We just covered the basic “must-haves” to include in your social media app, but there are endless possibilities to choose from in order to add a unique flare to your application. When considering how to make a social media app that can withstand the test of time and offer something widely different than competitors, it is vital to consider your target audience, determine what kind of application you want to create, and “think outside the box”.
Consider Your Target Audience
Your target audience is the demographic you want to market your products and services to and varies based on your particular industry. Your target audience’s needs should be at the heart of your social media app, shaping the features and functionalities you will ultimately select. After all, these are the people that will be using your application so you’ll want to ensure they find it relevant and enjoyable.
But how do you know who your target audience is? Easy. For example, if you are in the financial technology industry (FinTech), your target audience is at least 18 years old (old enough to manage a bank account and have a credit card) and probably has a need to be met through financial services. If you are in the retail industry, you may have a specific target audience or multiple target audiences depending on the range of products you offer. If you sell toys for young children through an eCommerce site, for example, you are not just appealing to the kids themselves, but also to their parents (who are the ones your app should technically target). If you are a clothing store that offers a range of apparel for people of all ages, your target audience is much wider.
Depending on the demographic, you’ll need to research what types of features they find most appealing. Older generations, for example, are more likely to prefer a simple social app that is easy to use and gets right to the point. They are probably going to be bothered by an app with too many ads or popups. If your business is marketing a product or service through social media, your app should feature prominent calls to action (CTAs), an easy way to link back to your website, as well as an in-app payment gateway for purchasing.
Younger generations, however, are likely to prefer a social media app with all the bells and whistles, such as image filters, gaming options, and more complex sharing preferences. They’ll also be more likely to click on ads, especially those that follow their shopping activities, so advertisement options should be considered. If your social media app will feature gaming, have a freemium structure in place that will allow for free gameplay and an option for purchasing extra game features or for advancing levels. Since younger users have their credit and debit cards linked via Apple or Google Pay, among others, you should consider including in-app purchases so that users are not taken off the app when buying something.
Determine the Type of Social Media App You Want to Create
Once you determine your target audience and what kinds of features they are looking for, it’s time to choose the type of social media application you want to create. There are several different types of social media apps, from those that focus on building relationships to those that are meant for public outreach.
Below are some ideas to help you decide which type of application is best for your brand:
- Network Building Apps: These are the traditional social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These apps build and maintain relationships between friends, family members, and colleagues. Their purpose is to facilitate communication and information sharing.
- Image and Video Sharing Apps: The sharing of images, videos, and GIFs has become a prominent feature of many social media apps. Platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo, and most recently TikTok offer users a range of media to entertain themselves with. Many include subscription options so users can tag their favorite content as well as the individual user accounts sharing them.
- Content Curation Apps: Content curation networks make it easy to store and find content from the web. Apps like Pinterest, Wanelo, Flipboard, and We Heart It let users tag images, videos, websites, and products and arrange them into convenient categories (or boards), such as travel, cuisine, fashion, and more. They can even offer inspiration for Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects.
- Community Discussion Apps: Forum-type apps like Reddit or Quora provide users with a platform from which they can voice their opinions or find like-minded people in their local communities. There is no limit to the type of posts that can be featured on these apps, but they are usually regulated by Webmasters to ensure that offensive or illegal content is not added, or addressed as quickly as possible.
- Review and Testimonial Apps: These apps include the likes of Yelp, Yellowpages, TripAdvisor, and others. Their purpose is to provide feedback on products and services to other consumers. Both written reviews and photos are often permitted, as well as a 5-star scale rating system.
Think Outside the Box
With a plethora of social media apps on the market, if you want yours to stand out, you need to provide something new and in a way that hasn’t been done before; check for example the case of Nab. Consider adding interactive features, such as live virtual agents, virtual reality, or augmented reality options. Virtual features have dramatically increased in popularity, largely due to the pandemic, so try to capitalize on this functionality as creatively as possible.
You might also want to consider allowing for customizable avatars or a customizable User Interface (UI). Typically, the more personalized an app can be, the more users will favor it. Perhaps even include an algorithm for finding people in your local community or beyond based on a set list of criteria, such as language, hobbies and interests, and other commonalities. Take it one step further and offer a search feature based on image. Because many social media users adopt a screen name that may be very different from their own, image recognition software can help users find long lost friends and colleagues and reconnect. However, if you opt for this feature, be sure to accommodate for user privacy.
Social Media App Development: Getting Started on Building Your Social Media Application
The social media app development process is similar to that of any other application. It starts with Ideation (ensuring your initial ideas and concepts are viable), project planning (including wireframing and UX/UI app design), building the application (product development), and Quality Assurance (QA) testing.
When building a social media app, developers often create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which is basically a beta version of the software that will be tested by a limited market who can then provide feedback. This feedback will be used to make improvements to the software to enhance future User Experience.
Many social media apps are starting to build Progressive Web App versions of their mobile apps. This alternative allows users to access a social network through their browser without having to download the app.
What Does It Cost to Develop a Social Media App?
App development costs vary depending on the types of features you would like to include in your social media application. Generally, the more advanced the features, the more you can expect the development cost to be. However, these costs can be mitigated by partnering with an experienced app development company, like Koombea.
If you are wondering how to make a social media app that will offer a unique User Experience, look no further. Our app developers have over 10 years of experience building applications for businesses across many industries. We will help you explore your social media app’s potential and work with you to bring your concept to life. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can assist you.