In the world of cutting-edge technologies, coffee is no longer the first thing in the morning. When you wake up, you lean towards your phone to get the latest updates from FB news feed, read your followers’ comments on Instagram or chat with your friends in WhatsApp. Indeed, social media has taken a big share of our lives. With 3+ billion active users worldwide, the market leaders can boast of having the highest engagement rates and the biggest revenue in the IT industry.
Although such giants as Facebook and Twitter have already occupied a significant market share, there is still space for promising and ambitious projects. The current trend for niche social networks is gathering pace, which means you can get your cut of the take.
However, building a social media app from scratch is quite a challenge. Before you get down to work, you should conduct thorough research to identify the gap in the market. In this article, we will unveil all the secrets of building a profitable social media app.
Since the invention of Facebook, the social media market has been thriving. Mark Zuckenberg indicated a new milestone in social media app development when he managed to replicate real-life communication in the digital landscape.
Since then, the total percentage of the active social media users has grown from 10 to 48% of the Earth’s population. If to run the numbers, it equates to 3.7 billion people worldwide. Facebook remains to be the primary market leader with the highest engagement rate. At the same time, Netflix is the top social media network by revenue due to its winning monetization model.
Although the entry threshold is high, the market provides conducive environment to startups and SME businesses. In 2019, the annual growth of apps’ downloads has been estimated at 9%, while the total user expenditure increased up to $101 billion. These figures clearly show that users are prepared to spend more when producers meet their specific needs.
Categories of Social Media Apps
You should have a clear vision in mind when you create your own social media app. Think of your audience and how your project will benefit users. If you're out of social media app ideas, look through the following categorization to choose the right type for your project.
Social Networks. Facebook remains to be the leader by the number of active users among all other social media networks. An average US citizen spends nearly 155 minutes per day on social networks and this number grows annually by 10-15%. Among teenage population, the figure is significantly higher. More than 45% of teens stay online on Facebook and Twitter during the whole day. It means that the popularity of social media networks is unlikely to fade in the nearest future.
Messengers. Such names as FB Messenger, WhatsApp or Telegram are quite familiar to you. The ability to keep in touch with your friends and partners is vital in the modern digitized world. Messengers are created to allow instant communication and let users exchange information on the go.
Media Sharing Sites. Application of this type enable users to share any kind of media (photo, video or docs) with their followers. The most renowned projects in this category include Instagram, YouTube and Vimeo.
Blogging Apps and Platforms. Bloggers have substituted actors and speakers in their ability to influence followers’ views. Everyone today strives to become an opinion leader and you can provide your users with such an opportunity.
Fitness & Lifestyle Apps. The trend for healthy lifestyle has become dominating among all generations. If you go to Play Market or App Store, you will find plenty of applications that help you to keep fit. For instance, Nutralete was designed to connect users with fitness professionals and provide them with daily recommendations on nutrition.
Q&A Platforms. The process of querying information has changed. When you have a question, the first thing that comes to your mind is to google it and find everything you need on the net. Q&A sites were invented to meet this growing demand. Build your social media to provide your users with relevant data.
Trends to Look For in Social Media App Development
Being in the know is essential, especially when it comes to social networks development. When you are aware of all the trends on the market, it is easy to be ahead of the competition. We prepared the top 5 trends that will blow your users’ minds and keep them engaged for a long time.
Niche social media
The trend for private social networks and chats is booming. Mark Zuckerberg was one of the first to notice that private chats and social media have become more popular among different groups of users.
The old trend for expressivity and excessive communication faded. Continuous race for the quantity of followers seem to come to an end. People have become more concerned about the quality of communication and privacy of their sensitive data. In this regard, niche social media apps are introduced to meet this growing demand.
Currently, there is a gap in the market for niche social media, which you can fill with an app targeted for a specific group of people. Mush, a highly successful project that disrupted the UK market, brought parents together in one environment. It allows moms to find their peers in the region, discuss critical problems and get advice when they need.
Market leaders actively apply machine learning algorithms in their projects. Pinterest, a social media for storing and exchanging pictures, has recently implemented an AI engine to detect sensitive images. In such a way, the company prevents penetration of inappropriate content to its platform.
Sharing experiences in real time has become a part of culture, and almost every user seems to be using it. Moreover, this feature is frequently applied by businesses to extend their reach and grow online audience.
Even state institutions organize live streaming events to reach a higher level of transparency. The Dallas Police Department regularly streams police officers’ interviews to inform the public on security issues.
Realism has been a dominating trend in IT and gaming for the last decade. Multiple state-of-the-art tools were invented to immerse a user in a digital landscape:
- Virtual and augmented reality are applied in social media to add new features and grow the user engagement rate
- AR filters and senses add gamification to such apps as Instagram and Snapchat, which positively affects their rating and place on the market.
Since almost half of our conversations has gone online, chats and messages have become obligatory features for almost all social media platforms. Communication on the go is a growing trend, which means you should take it into account while building your own social media platform.
Features to Build an MVP
Each product has its own focus and peculiarities but the main goal remains the same: to keep the user's attention by means of design, special features or any other “catchy” functions. A set of mandatory features for your social network highly depends on the scalability of the platform, budget and your project idea.
If to look at the current trends and successful social media apps, these features are a must have for your MVP :
When you start a social network, you should think of how your users will be represented in your app. This feature helps to build a database with users’ information that lies in the core of your platform.
One of the simplest ways is to allow integration with other social media networks, like Facebook or LinkedIn. Users won’t spend long time filling in their profiles, while you’ll get the valuable data.
Feed keeps users updated on all the latest trends. Most users log into their accounts in the morning to see what they missed during the night. It is also a great chance to share own experiences with followers and catch on the vibes from the most prominent events in the city.
When you create a social media app, be sure your users can do the following:
- Make posts on the go
- Share their updates with friends in private conversations and in the feed
- Add audio & video files to their stories
- Tag followers, their friends and businesses
Chat is a necessary feature for almost all types of social networks. It keeps your users engaged for a long time and adds interactivity to the platform. We advise paying precise attention to conversation settings, such as time of messaging, type of chats (private or public) or the number of users involved in them.
Keep in mind that privacy matters now more than ever before, so securing users data should be your first priority. Make sure all individuals on your social media site are protected from data leakages and disclosures.
Ways to Develop a Social Media App
When you’ve decided on a business plan, project idea and handpick features to build your perfect MVP, you should have a look at the practical part. If you search the net, there are three primary options you are likely to consider:
Use Social App Builders
You no longer need a skilled software developer to create your own social media app. At first glance, these tools seem to be appealing as they do not charge unbearable fees and you can do everything yourself. However, when you get down to the development process, you meet lots of challenges that significantly delay your release: extension difficulties, hidden charges, no possibility to edit code, unexpected bugs and so on.
Also, be informed that the service can stake a claim on your product. The service you are working with can undertake the following actions at any stage of your project:
- Restrict access to your product
- Block your account
- Send you a refusal to cooperate in the future
It means that using social app builders is not completely secure if you place your hopes on the product.
Hire Freelance Developers
If you don’t have any programming background, you can find software developers on freelance platforms. They charge lower fees compared to those working for the company.
While the cost might seem really attractive, be prepared to cope with challenges. Such developers are usually inexperienced and cannot advise you on apps’ architecture, design or scale an existing product. They may also give up your project halfway when they find a more profitable gig.
Outsource Your Project to a Vendor
Software development companies have relevant expertise in mobile development. With a rich talent pool, they assign software engineers, who can advise you on your project idea, develop a business plan and help your to launch a successful social media app.
While the rates of US developers are unbearable, consider outsourcing to Eastern Europe. Local companies work with startups on a regular basis, so they are quite aware of industry challenges and barriers. Furthermore, many of them have head offices in America, so you won’t meet any difficulties in communication.
We provided you with all the nitty-gritty details on how to create a social media app from scratch. You are aware of all the latest trends and know which features are obligatory to build a successful MVP. Also, you can easily say where to find the best developers.
Nevertheless, don’t expect that building an app similar to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter is an easy process. You’d better rely on LITSLINK professional team to make sure your product will perfectly work smoothly and find its target audience.