In recent years, social media has shifted from providing mainly communication channels and entertainment platforms to becoming a means of marketing and growing businesses, contributing to significant political and social discussions, and raising awareness about crucial topics. Considering how much revenue apps like Tiktok ($4.6 billion in 2021) or Facebook ($117 billion in 2021) generate, it’s no wonder many businesses want to create an app of their own.

 

how to make a social media app stats

 

However, creating a social media app that attracts many people and becomes almost essential in their daily lives is not an easy undertaking. How to make a social media app that manages to pull in enough audience, and deliver the best user experience to generate income? In this article, we will answer this question as well as explore the process of social media app development, primary and additional features, take a look at monetization models and user acquisition strategies, as well as learn the costs of app development.

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Types of social media apps

When you hear about social media apps, you probably think about Facebook, Instagram or Tiktok, but there are different types of platforms that fall into this category. Let’s take a look at the main types of social media apps and which problems they strive to solve.

 

Social network apps

Social network apps are the solutions that first come to mind: Facebook, Instagram and others. The main goal of such apps is to connect people and provide a platform for sharing thoughts, experiences and images. Nowadays, they have transcended their initial purpose and become useful marketing tools for both big and small companies. LinkedIn is another example of a social network app, even though it nurtures mainly business relationships.

 

Media sharing networks

How to make a social media app for sharing media? These networks allow users to exchange all kinds of media, such as videos, photos, GIFs, etc. Media sharing channels are platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, and Tiktok, that encourage user-generated content that creators can make, upload, edit, curate, and share. Such platforms also allow for establishing profiles, adding information about themselves, interacting with other creators, and commenting on videos and photos. Now users can even monetize their content through AdSense, special programs like the YouTube Partner Program, sponsorships, donations, and patronage, which makes these platforms even more appealing to the public.

 

Social review networks

how to make a social media app social review networks

Such apps provide social proof about products and services and help people to find information about companies without first wasting their own time and money. How to create a social media app for social reviews? Sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are the best examples, as they are platforms where you can read and create reviews about restaurants, hotels, beauty salons, and other businesses. These platforms are also a goldmine to the business owner if they study the reviews and utilize them to improve their businesses and enhance user experience. Additionally, companies can use social platforms for self-promotion and brand awareness.

 

Community and discussion forums

Even though discussion forums may be slightly losing in popularity with social networks on the rise, they are staying relevant to many communities. How to create a social media platform for community and discussion forums? Sites like Reddit allow people to connect on small topics, share their unique experiences and find communities of people that go through similar experiences. Quora is another example of such a forum where people can ask a question regarding virtually any topic and users answer their inquiries as well as they can. Sometimes it can be challenging to find a community on large platforms like Facebook, and discussion forums facilitate the creation of small communities of people with specific interests.

 

Bookmarking and content curation networks

How to make a social app for bookmarking and content curation with a clear monetization strategy and helpful features? Bookmarking sites help users organize their resources and websites by tagging links and categorizing the tags. They can also discover other people’s content and save the exciting parts. Platforms like Pinterest are also used for marketing activities to promote businesses, blogs, youtube channels, and other creative works.

 

Blogging and publishing platforms

These platforms should not be confused with content management systems (CMS) like Wix or WordPress. Blogging and publishing platforms allow users to create their profiles and share their posts about various topics without building a website and paying hosting fees. How to build a social media app for blogging and self-publishing? Sites like Medium and Tumblr give people a chance to share a thought on a large platform any time they want. This is also a lucrative opportunity for businesses to spread the message about their company and products for millions of people to see.

 

Interest-based networks

how to make a social media app interest0based networks

How to make a social media app that focuses on a specific topic or hobby? For example, GoodReads allows users to share their thoughts about books they have read and create recommendation lists. You can develop an application that caters to the interests of a particular group of people and choose a fitting marketing and monetization strategy.

 

Anonymous social networks

Anonymous social sites allow users to ask questions or share a story without revealing their identity. These platforms are especially popular among teenagers as they want to discuss controversial topics and often don’t have anyone in their lives to do that with. How to create a special network app for an anonymous share with a lucrative monetization model? The most known app is Whisper, where users can post confessions and share their stories with the public. This solution works on a subscription basis and charges users with a monthly fee.

 

Microblogging

The most world-renowned microblogging platforms are Plurk or Twitter, where people can share short entries with a maximum of 280 characters. Users are encouraged to comment and retweet the posts and engage in discussions. This feature attracts business owners that can promote their products and services in an engaging and fun way. This method of blogging also appeals to users since not everyone wants to create and curate a blogging website. Small entries, news, messages and comments on current events are a lot easier to post and maintain on such microblogging platforms.

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Examples of the best social media apps in 2022

If you want to learn how to make a social media app that stands out, learn from the best. In this section, we will go over the five best social media giants in the world.

 

Facebook

Android, iOS and web

how to make a social media app facebook

  • The largest social media platform with 3.5 billion users worldwide with the main demographic being from 25 to 35 years old and based in the US.
  • Features include friends list, news feed, messenger, likes and reactions, groups, marketplace, and comments. The app also offers business features for promotion.
  • The focal monetization strategy is selling advertising spaces on the platform.
  • Facebook is a large portal and has an extensive tech stack: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX, JSON, LAMP, C++, MySQL, MariaDB, Apache Hadoop, Java, Swift, C# and Xamarin.forms, React JS.

 

YouTube

Android, iOS and web

how to make a social media app youtube

  • One of the biggest media sharing platforms with 467 million users, with the main demographic of males from 25 to 34 years old.
  • Features include browsing, subscribing, home screen with personalized suggestions, trending videos, comments, and likes.
  • The main monetization strategy is selling advertising spaces that are embedded into videos and placed on the pages. Additionally, the platform offers a YouTube Premium subscription that allows users to watch videos without watching ads.
  • YouTube’s tech stack consists of JavaScript, C, C++, Python, Java, Go, Vitess, BigTable, MariaDB, MySQL.

 

Instagram

Android and iOS

how to make a social media app instagram

  • The most famous photo-sharing app with 2+ billion users and a predominant user base of 18 to 34 years old male and female audience.
  • Features are vast and include photo uploads, comments, likes, live videos, shoppable tags, hashtags and stories.
  • The main monetization model that Instagram uses is advertisements.
  • Tech stack includes JavaScript, Python, React, Java, PostgreSQL, Redis, Django, Objective-C, Cassandra, GraphQL.

 

TikTok

Android and iOS

how to make a social media app tiktok

  • The fastest growing social media platform with 1.2 billion users with almost half of its user base of people from 18 to 24 years old.
  • Features include video uploading and editing, media sharing, comments, likes, hashtags, duets, reactions and live video streaming.
  • TikTok's main monetization strategy is in-app purchases. Users can buy in-app currency to donate it to their favorite creators. The second largest revenue stream is advertising.
  • Tech stack involves the following technologies: Swift, Kotlin, Node.js, MySQL, MongoDB, Cassandra.

 

Twitter

Android, iOS, and web

how to make a social media app twitter

  • The most used microblogging app with 320 million users with the target demographic of people from 25 to 34 years old.
  • Features encompass creating tweets, shares, comments, likes, polls, direct messages, account tagging and threads.
  • Twitter’s monetization heavily relies on advertisements.
  • The tech stack includes React, RoR, Node.js, Scala, GraphQL, Java, Redis.

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Main Features

Although the exact set of features depends on the type of app and the desired complexity, there are a few functions that every social media application should include. How to make a social media app that caters to users’ needs and provides value? Start by planning and developing the main features for your MVP.

01

Sign up and user profile

Create a social media app where users can sign up and log in using email, phone number, and other social media profiles like Facebook. Your app should also allow users to create personal profiles with information such as their name, location, photo, description, etc. It is crucial to make the process easy and smooth since signup and profile creation would be the first interaction with the application.
02

Post creation and publishing

How to create a social media app that encourages user-generated content? Depending on the type of the app, posts might entail images, videos, large or small texts, questions, or all the above. Ideally, they can be liked or disliked, shared, and commented on.
03

Search engine

How to make a social media app like Instagram or TikTok where people can easily identify the type of content they want? By adding hashtags or something similar to the search engine and allowing people to generate their own hashtags. Otherwise, you can implement a default search bar like the one on YouTube or Facebook to help people find creators, groups, topics and people. You can also integrate a filter option to allow people to target their search and find what they want a lot faster. Finally, search engines push forward recommended content based on posts that users usually interact with.
04

Friending or subscribing options

If you want to create a social network app similar to YouTube or Tiktok, add a channel or user subscription option to allow people to have easy access to the creator. Apps like Facebook work with friending options and allow users to send friend requests to follow each other and stay in touch. This way, they will get updates in their news feed, whenever their friends post something new on their profile.
05

Feed

How to create a social media app that retains people on your platform? Develop an app that engages people in scrolling through the pages. For example, you can implement a feed that goes on indefinitely, for as long as users keep scrolling. The feed is the main page of the app and showcases the content generated by the user’s subscriptions or friends, as well as personalized content that the person might enjoy.
06

Chat or direct messaging

Social media platforms are also about helping people connect and stay in touch, which requires private messaging options. Facebook has even developed a separate app for direct messaging, but most apps have the chatting option right in the application. How to start a social media network that helps users create and nurture their relationships? Build a social media platform that offers secure and encrypted messaging options so that no one can gain access to their private conversations.
07

Groups and subgroups

How to make a social media app where users can find like-minded people, connect, and discuss the topics they are interested in? Integrate groups or subgroups in the application and allow people to create their own communities within the platform.
08

Notifications

How to create a social media platform with high user engagement? Like most apps, social media portals should also have notifications that update users whenever the creator or friend they follow posts something new. Users can receive notifications when someone tagged them in certain posts or answered their comments. An app can also ping users that have not interacted with the platform for longer periods of time to interest them in a new post or feature and drive them back to the product. However, make sure to make notifications optional and allow people to choose which actions they want to be notified about.
09

Moderation tools

Unfortunately, the internet is prone to breeding trolls which can be harmful to people’s businesses and even their mental health. How to make a social media app that enables respectful and polite conversations? Make sure to allow users to ban certain words in the comment section, remove unwanted comments altogether, and ban users from seeing and interacting with their content.
10

Live Streaming

How to make a social media portal where users can engage in live conversations with their audiences? Live Streaming has become a huge part of almost every social media application. People enjoy interacting with their favorite creators in real-time which drives up the engagement and prolongs session duration. Live Streaming is also helpful to businesses as they can establish a personal connection with the audience, while promoting their product, educating their users on their topic of expertise, or conducting special sales offers.
11

Customization

Another vital part of creating a social network app is customization. The ability to customize the design, color scheme, and even the layout of the profile page will help users establish their personal brand. Youtube and LinkedIn are good examples of customization as they allow users to add banners, images, and color schemes to their profile pages.
12

Admin panel

How to code a social media app that allows the owner to manage the application, answer users’ questions and collect important metrics? Whenever users mark the checkbox that allows the app to collect their data, the admin panel gives the platform owner access to this data such as location, gender, age, device type, and the content they consume. This information can be used to suggest personalized content and attract more audiences to your site. The admin panel also allows you to manage users, answer inquiries and perform other administrative tasks.

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Additional Features

how to make a social media app additional features

Besides essential features, you may want to expand your palette with some additional functions that can make your app more useful, engaging, and unique. How to create a social media platform with high user retention and lower user acquisition costs? By offering exciting unique features, such as social commerce, gamification, and more.

01

Social commerce

Since many people already look for products on social media apps like Instagram and Facebook, allowing them to purchase the items right through the app makes a lot of sense. How to make a social media app that provides a social commerce function? Either through a separate marketplace within the social media app where people can post items for sale, or through shoppable posts, you can increase engagement and help people purchase the desired products right on your platform.
02

Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR & AR)

Want to know how to make a social networking app that offers advanced features and attracts users? The AR technology is already being used by some apps and most famously by Snapchat. The app allows users to make videos with augmented reality features and share them with their audiences. Meta is actively pushing VR technology into their products. For example, they have launched an app called Spaces where people can interact using VR headsets.
03

Chatbots

How to make a social media app that helps businesses connect to their customers faster? Add a chatbot option to allow business owners to send automatic messages and answer simple queries. They can also help newcomers navigate the application and learn the ins and outs significantly faster and easier.
04

Short videos

Wonder how to create a social network app from scratch and swiftly receive high engagement? The data provided by Colormatics shows that short video content is engaging, especially when it comes to marketing purposes. Short videos are mostly under one minute long and can capture the essence of a product, educate about something specific, or tell a funny joke. Instead of going through various pages or reading texts, users prefer watching a short clip.
05

Gamification

Games are a great way to lure people into your app and get them interested. They also reduce the costs of user acquisition, (which are notoriously high), and increase user retention. Especially if you are targeting younger audiences, gamification is an excellent strategy to gain new users. In the case in which your application is not suitable for offering actual games, for example, business apps like LinkedIn, you can add gamification elements to it. For example, creating a scoring system that incentivizes people into completing their profile.

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Monetization models

As mentioned above, most social media apps use advertisements as their primary monetization strategy. The ads can be embedded in the videos or placed on the news feed page to be visible to the user.  Another popular monetization option is in-app purchases, like what Tiktok offers. For example, you can set up an in-app currency to allow donations. Freemium is a model that offers a free version of the app and provides more functions with a premium package that comes at a certain cost. However, since most social media apps that are available today are free, it might not be the best option. Finally, you can build a social media app on a subscription basis and charge a monthly or yearly fee. You can easily automate your subscription billing for each user by integrating it with SaaS subscription billing software.

How much does it cost to develop a social media app?

The cost of social media app development depends on the tech stack, the number of features, overall app complexity, and the location of the development team. For example, if you are wondering how to make a social media app like Tiktok, here is an overview:

Using technologies like React Native for the frontend, Python for the backend and PostgreSQL for the database, you can create a social networking site for $80,000 to $100,000 in six to nine months. Besides app development, the costs include admin panel development as well as the services of business analysts, project managers, QA specialists, and UX/UI designers.

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5 Tips to how to acquire users for your social media app

Learning how to build a social network app is only one of the steps to launching a successful platform. You also need to promote and market it correctly to attract users and gain traction. There are a few strategies for acquiring users that we will be covering in the following section.

01

App store optimization

This is the same technique that is used in copywriting and blogging and involves applying keywords to the text to make the app more searchable. The optimization should include the name, description, ratings and reviews, and more. User reviews can help you determine the keywords that people might use to discover the app. How to make a social network app that appears at the top of the app search? Make sure your app is listed in the right category, update the app description with new features and proper keywords, upload a video to the app store to attract more viewers, and keep track of the key metrics.
02

Ask for reviews

Users are more likely to leave a negative review if something goes wrong than a positive one even when they enjoy the product. This is why it is important to encourage people to rate the app. One of the ways to remind users of rating is a pop-up window that asks users to take a second to give a review. You can also embed the rating request in the app screen which looks more organic and often delivers better results. A good practice is to trigger the rating request after a milestone such as friending people, uploading a photo or video, or making a purchase.
03

Use paid ads

How to make a social media platform and catch the eye of your potential audience? Target paid ads can be extremely helpful in gaining traffic to your application. Consider your target audience and use Facebook ads, affiliate partnerships, cross-promotion networks, or promoted tweets to reach the maximum number of potential users.
04

Influencer marketing

You can reach out to different influencers that align with your potential user base and ask them to work with you. Make sure the influencer suits your brand and audience but leave enough creative freedom for them to make the advertisement appealing. You can leverage the best influencer marketing services to maximize your campaign ROI. Additionally, choose the platform wisely to target the audience you would like to bring to your app.
05

Organic user acquisition

Organic user acquisition mostly comes from blog posts, videos, white papers, ebooks, and other media that cover the relevant topic. How to make a social media app that grows organically and steadily increases traffic? There’s no need to create a blog website for your app if you don’t want to invest too many resources. You can utilize existing platforms like Medium to spread the word about your exciting product.

The next step here is user onboarding. It’s essential to introduce your product, show all the features, and provide assistance where it’s needed. Proper onboarding helps to retain users and transform them into loyal customers.

Key efficiency indicators

We’ve already discussed how to make a social media app that performs well and steadily gains traction. Now it’s time to move on to your app performance analysis. You should always be on the lookout for key performance metrics. To conduct a comprehensive tracking, capture the current KPIs, set reasonable goals for a period of time, monitor the changes, and compare the results to the expected numbers. In the next iteration, you can use the experience you have gained and adapt the marketing activities as well as set more realistic and attainable goals. Here is an overview of the most significant key efficiency indicators for a social media app owner to track:

01

User acquisition

This includes cost per install which calculates the costs of user acquisition that came from ads. Another metric that falls into this category is customer acquisition cost which calculates the sum of all marketing activities that went into attracting a user.
02

User activation

The percentage of users that followed through with the activation. In other words, how many active users are there compared to installs? The activation may proceed by following a link from an email or by entering a code from a text message.
03

Monthly active users

The number of users that log into the app at least once a month.
04

User involvement

The number of engagement metrics users perform, including likes, shares, messages, etc.
05

User retention

The percentage of users using the application after a certain amount of time, such as a week or a month.
06

User engagement

This consists of both the session length, (which captures the time between login and exit), as well as the session interval, which calculates the time between the sessions.
07

Traction

Month-to-month user growth rates.

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Final Checklist: How to create a social media app

The process of social network development is long and complex and requires thorough planning. Learn how to build a social media app with the following concise checklist.

 

Discovery phase

The discovery phase includes learning the market trends, identifying business goals, gathering requirements, building wireframes and prototypes. By the end of the discovery phase, you should have a list of features broken into two categories: essential and non-essential. The former entails the features that are absolutely necessary to solve the main user’s issue. Non-essential features are nice-to-haves and can be added in later iterations.

 

Hire social media application developers

Research relevant app development companies with sufficient experience, extensive portfolios and suitable rates to undertake your project.

 

Create a UX/UI design

Alongside your development team, work out and fine-tune a UX/UI design for the app that fits the product, brand, and your target audience.

 

Develop an MVP

how to make a social media app MVP development

Make a social media app in a basic version with only the most essential features to validate the idea and adjust your app with necessary changes.

 

Collect feedback and continuously improve your app

Conduct A/B testing to gather feedback from different demographics and utilize these insights to make the next version better and more appealing to the customer.

Conclusion

Despite being highly competitive, the social media apps market remains very lucrative and attractive to businesses. If you would like to realize your social application ideas and need a team of professionals to help you deliver a great product, contact DOIT Software. Our team of software developers knows how to make a social media app that looks great, performs well, and gets traction on the app store. Get in touch to discuss your concept and start working on your project together with us.

Frequently Asked Questions

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How do social media apps work?

Depending on the type of app, they connect users to each other through engaging activities like blogging, video and photo posting and sharing, as well as messaging.

How much does it cost to create a social media app?

Social media application development costs vary based on app complexity, the number of features, and even the location of the vendor. On the lower side, a simple MVP app can cost you at least $30,000 but a more complex solution can be $60,000 and higher.

How much does it cost to build an app like Instagram?

An MVP app like Instagram would cost you somewhere between $60,000 and $80,000.

How much does it cost to build an app like Facebook?

A Facebook-like MVP application would cost you from $80,000 to $100,000.

How do social media apps make money?

The most often used monetization strategy for a social mobile app is advertisements. Some applications implement in-app currency or purchases to generate income, or offer a subscription-based structure.

ANNA IVASHYNA,
PROJECT MANAGER @ DOIT SOFTWARE
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