How to Create a Social Media App: All You Need to Know

Before Facebook, no one really knew what social media was and if there could be a platform to communicate with the world in a tap. Now, the scenario is reversed! Even new social media trends like Clubhouse is bringing intense competition to the social networks’ main players (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat). It is valued at $100 million in just a few weeks! This forces every budding entrepreneur to think of how to create a social media app. All thanks to Mark for setting a power trend!

However, these social media apps often get failed if have no plan beforehand since the market is wide and packed with diversity. So, full-proof planning is a must if you want to create a social networking app for your business. What sort of planning? Read this entire blog post and you will understand all facets of the development process for social media apps.

What is Social Media App?

An application that facilitates content publishing and posting (text, video, audio, photo), the creation of personal accounts, linking to a network, and searching within the community is considered as a social media application.

In basic terms, the social media app is an interface that enables people to be in contact with active users that host multimedia content using a network. It is an online platform to interact with people who have common values, experiences, or real-life interactions with others. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are a few famous examples of social media apps.

Benefits of Creating a Social Network App

While the social networking industry is already packed with opportunities, let’s take a look at more reasons why you must not miss the opportunity to be part of the fastest-growing field.

Benefits of Creating Social Network App

  • High User Engagement

    If your social media app is designed with a captivating interface, it is needless to say that you will have more engaging enterprise customers and buyers visiting your app every day right from the moment you create a social media app like Instagram. This improves the traffic and opens a wide scope for more function and achievement growth.

  • Complete Access to Data

    Mainstream social media sites do not offer absolute consumer data access. They keep all information to them only. But, when you create a social media product of your own, you have full independence in terms of data which significantly helps to boost your social media marketing and customer acquisition cost.

  • Traceability

    Facebook, for example, creates new leads for any company as a social media app and aims to turn them into revenue as well. You will visibly track the company’s return on investment and make the required adjustments to increase sales. Similar to how Instagram uses Facebook’s Advertising Manager program and affiliate marketing, you can even have a personalized social media software platform and encourage users to profit from it.

  • Purchasing Power

    As per the record, one-fourth of social app users, which is not a small number, purchase goods online. While company owners strive for regular sales, social media platform makes it easy in the least effort. The conversions that happen with social apps are one of the influential advantages of social media app development that improves the global community.

  • Easy Monetization

    In most cases, it is not possible to sell stuff to the audience on established social media sites. But, that’s not the case with your custom social media app product. You can build digital marketplace solutions with social networking apps quickly. Features such as one-click and express purchases are also feasible. You get money and make it convenient for users to purchase the goods and services they want.

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Types of Social Media Apps

Moving forward, let’s describe what categories are split into all social media applications. This will help you realize what niche you’re going to be joining and what major rivals are waiting for you.

Types of AppsDescriptionTop Apps
Social Network AppsThese apps are used to connect and engage people online, either for their personal needs or professional communication.
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Clubhouse
Media Sharing NetworksThese are social applications that allow you to exchange media files of all kinds like photos, videos, GIFs, etc.
  • Twitter
  • Vimeo
  • Tiktok
Consumer Review NetworksThese apps are used by users to search or review companies, products, businesses, or brands they have used or experienced.
  • Yelp
  • Google My Business
Content Curation NetworksUsers operate such social networking apps for content sharing, discovery, and saving.
  • Pinterest
  • Mix
  • Flipboard
Blogging PlatformsSuch sites for new social media trends allow users to create blogs and post their creative, informative, or technical content.
  • Tumblr
  • Medium
Community and Discussion ForumsThese spaces are used for asking questions and answering them, exchanging stories, perspectives, and tips.
  • Quora
  • Reddit
Messenger AppsApps that allow users to chat, call, or initiate a group chat with friends, family, or any individual who is on the application.
  • Facebook
  • Snapchat
  • WhatsApp
  • Viber
Interest-Based NetworksPeople with common interests are united through this form of social networking app. On such websites, users can share their hobbies and related experiences.
  • Goodreads
  • Soundcloud

Stats of Growing Social Media Landscape

1996. That’s the year when the first-ever networking site Bolt (now closed) was released. Following that, services like Six Degrees, Live Journal, and Friendster launched all paving the way for the leader, Facebook, in 2004.

YearApplication
1996Bolt
1997Six Degrees
1998Open diary
1999LiveJournal
2000Habbo
2002Friendster
2003LinkedIn
2004Facebook

(Source: Wikipedia)

Since then, social media networks are booming so much that now there are over 3.6 billion people using social media globally, which will grow to 4.41 billion by 2025.

Social Media App Users

(Source: Statista)

But, each platform has a special and distinct number of audiences.

For example, in 2020, Facebook had the most audiences active on the app, following Youtube and Whatsapp.

Popular Social Media Apps

(Source: Statista)

However, as a businessman, you will need to decide on the target demographic for your social media app product. So, here is the gender-dependent overview of social media site users. With this, you can analyze who you need to target more.

Social NetworkMaleFemale
Facebook63%75%
Instagram31%43%
YouTube78%68%
Twitter24%21%
LinkedIn29%24%
Pinterest15%42%
Snapchat24%24%
Tiktok56%44%
WhatsApp21%19%

(Source: OurWorldinData)

As seen in the table, most females prefer to be on social networks for photo sharing (Instagram & Facebook), whereas most males prefer to be on social networks for video sharing (Youtube). This analysis adds value to target the audience for your unique mobile app product category.

Besides that, you will need to look at the profits per share to finally settle on your start-up. So, let’s look at these giant brands’ quarterly sales as of 2020 – the biggest concern of any businessman!

AppsRevenue(Q3 2020)
Facebook$21.47 billion
Instagram$13.86 billion
YouTube$5.04 billion
LinkedIn$8.05 billion
Twitter$936.23 million

(Sources: Business Insider, Business of Apps, Statista, Statista, Statista)

While Facebook and Instagram lead the chart, the increase in the usage of other social apps also suggests that it will further impact the way customers communicate with products in a mobile world. As most social media users use their cell phones to reach these social media sites, isn’t it a brilliant idea to build a social media app like Instagram and Facebook and have it installed on their devices?

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Options for Creating a Social Media App

With the exponential growth of technology and the emergence of no-code product development, there are various options on how to create a social media app now. But which one is apt for your platform? Let’s find it.

  1. SaaS Solution

    SaaS solutions give you the ability to build a social network design for both websites and mobile. To monetize the content, you can customize the look, get an app running quickly, and have customized options based on your preferences. However, this might not be an apt choice if you choose to create an app product for a long-term purpose.

  2. Open-Source Software

    It is easy to compile and configure open-source applications on your own server. While they provide further customization flexibility for free, you’ll still have to pay for every hosting. Plus, you can not benefit from any customer service or any app upgrades immediately.

  3. Develop From Scratch

    When you have an idea, the most suitable option is to develop a social media app like Instagram from scratch. You just need an idea and resources and you can have your entire website or app built with the least efforts as everything from ideation to deployment will be handled by the app developers. For this, development companies specialized in building social media sites can help you the most.

MVP Features of a Social Media App

Although social media applications typically approach overlapping demographics, starting with MVP features (must-have features) is advisable and they are listed below.

MVP Features of Social Media App Development

  • Sign In: This minimum viable product feature helps users to sign up for user activation of different options to create an account, such as an email & password, or register by phone.
  • User Profile: It is to provide users with space and resources for building a social media custom account and how they consume the content, in line with its social design. Name, gender, phone number, website, profile image, bio, etc. are the basic changeable fields.
  • Upload Photos & Videos: Adding a feature for post creation that helps users to share images and videos is one of the keys to creating a social networking platform like Instagram. Details such as previewing, downloading original content, commenting, tagging, taking photos, etc. should not be ignored.
  • Post Likes & Comments: Encouraging people to generate content is the entire point of creating a social media app. Only if the users interact with the website, whether by liking the post or commenting on the posts generated by the people within their network, the social network app will flourish. Hence, to create a social media app, this is a must-have feature.
  • Search: A working search bar makes it easier for users of your app to browse inside the application and locate the persons, websites, items, a relevant discussion, or some type of information they are searching for.
  • Chat: Regardless of what is the subject of the app, the chat feature is crucial. It allows users to communicate with text, voice, photos, or videos whether in person or group chat.
  • Push Notifications: Users in your app want to grasp what is going on with their favorite app. As an app owner, you want to launch promotions, submit files, and communicate better with your app users. So in both cases, push notifications do wonder to share updates on their mobile phones without having to log in to the app.
  • Privacy & Settings: To ensure that the users of the app can access the social media app anonymously, and all their sensitive data are safe, it is very important to have a high degree of privacy and settings. This includes editing their profiles, enable/disable push alerts, customizing the account as private, etc.

Have no idea of what MVP is? Read our detailed guide on minimum viable product development.

Advanced Features of Social Media App

If you have set up your social networking company and are ready to take it to the next stage, incorporate advanced features into the Android and iOS social media app like Instagram as stated below.

Advanced Features of Social Media App Development

  • Live Streaming: As more and more people are accustomed to watching live streams, it is becoming increasingly popular. People tend to watch live streams over posts these days because users can directly communicate with an audience and perform product or workout demos.
  • Transient Stories: Much like a normal post, users will add their stories with text, photos, videos, stickers, live face filters, and stickers and are shown in a slideshow style. But in 24 hours, they will disappear, unlike posts.
  • Geo-Location & Tagging: The geo-location integration will help to expand your application’s features as users enjoy posting locations where they take profile pictures and images. With tagging feature, users would be able to tag the person with whom they capture images.
  • Block or Disable: Unknown individuals trolling your post, videos, or trying to defame is one of the things to worry about on your social network. But, with the block and disable functionality, users can remove any damaging behavior and put a ban on comments.
  • AR & Face Filters: Computer-generated effects added to the real-life image reflected by your camera are augmented reality (AR) filters and funny face filters. This feature allows users to modify the image that their front or back camera shows.
  • Multi-Language Support: Apps for social networking must transcend, creating devices that hit a foreign audience. Think of Twitter, more than 40% of users choose a favorite language that is not English, but market analysis helps to explain the language support you need to draw users from your app to empower each other.
  • Link With Social Networks: This function lets you connect your app with other common social networking sites, to create a social media app popular among the masses (Other than Facebook and Instagram). You will not only boost the app’s visibility with this integration but also increase organic traffic volume in a limited period of time.
  • Data Analytics: Enabling access to data and analytics helps you to monitor where your users are situated, the type of computer, and the content in which they are most interested. This will help you to ensure that you have the greatest user experience.
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How to Create a Social Media App?

An effective social app can be assured only by a structured approach to social media app development. So, where to get started? Follow the below steps.

How to Create a Social Media App

  1. Identify Your Target Audience

    You must first identify the essence and then develop a social media network based on set criteria and principles. Decide what your network will be all about. Be sure that you have a full view of the business and developed competition in the community. For that, you must;

    • Research the idea and the competition field carefully,
    • Evaluate the criteria and draw up a portrait of the target audience,
    • Find out how much does it cost and how many resources do you still need,
    • And, set the main success metrics to be accomplished.

    All this helps you find a distinctive niche when creating a mobile social media product.

  2. Decide on Features and Functions

    It’s possible to get lost in the many different functions and basic features you want to incorporate when you first begin designing your social media app like Instagram. But initially, to ensure that all the features are necessary at this early stage, make sure to consider the limits, budget, and business requirements.

  3. Approach Mobile App Development Company

    Upon settling on all of the preceding actions, it’s time to take your business online. You need to create a social media smartphone app, and for that, we consider hiring a custom social media app development firm to assist you with your accessibility strategies from the idea to the delivery.

    To help you find the best social media app development team, you can refer to the technology stack, portfolio, and references from prior clients.

  4. UI/UX Design Workflow & Build

    To craft a perfect UI design flow, it has to go through various stages like,

    • Deciding on frameworks for Module
    • Reviewing the framework chosen
    • Planning the app’s route map
    • Developing wireframes and prototypes
    • Creating an effective UI strategy
    • Planning sprint & designing graphics
    • Co-relating demands for the interface

    Once the prototyping of the app is done, the social media app development team will build its back-end by setting up servers, databases, APIs, and working out perfect storage solutions. To break down this process, you can follow the below-mentioned points:

    • Deciding on an approach to development
    • Building each iteration of the screen
    • Coding and encoding models at the back-end
    • Executing iteration and frames
    • Continuous testing for quality assurance for both Android and iOS
  5. Launch & Maintain

    If you decide to develop your app with our development team, our technical staff will also ensure the publication process, providing all documents, including screens, video guides that explain the application effectively. All this allows brands to stand out in the Apple Store and Google Play Market for social applications.

    Once the project is launched to the application markets, we also promise all forms of service and the introduction of upgrades for our clients.

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Social Media App Technology Stack

The bigger the project, the larger the stack of technologies to be used. At Space-O, here’s what we use for each process.

Tech Stack
Programming Languages
  • Swift
  • Kotlin
  • PHP
  • Node js
IDE
  • Xcode
  • Android Studio
Cloud Storage
  • Amazon S3
Database
  • Mongo DB
  • Redis
  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL
Utilities
  • Google Analytics
  • Mixpanel
  • Visual Website Optimizer
Payment Gateways
  • Braintree
  • Paypal
  • Stripe
Messaging Platform
  • Twilio
  • Nexmo
  • Sinch
  • RestComm
Libraries
  • Google Map
  • Socket
Analytics
  • Mixpanel
  • Google Analytics
  • Keen.io
Email
  • Gmail
  • AWS
  • SendGrid
Deployment platforms
  • Cloud
  • iOS
  • Android

Best Practices of Social Media App Design

In the field of social network architecture, there is a lot of diversity out there. Some sites, including LinkedIn, maintain a rather professional approach, whilst others have a more organic, free-form look (like MySpace). But what is the right way for a social network to be designed? Let’s find out.

  • Social app design must be simple and recognizable
  • To stop misleading the users, make sure the look and feel stay consistent across the site and smartphone
  • An account should be easy to fill in and should provide others with many forms of transparency
  • The content generation and sharing basic features should be simple and make the process quick
  • Allow the user to categorize the content according to its various characteristics, popularity, or other nature
  • From any point of the network use, direct contact functions such as conversations and chatting should be
    accessible, transparent, and usable
  • Let active users identify groups and exchange data
  • For a smooth user interface, tailor colors to the brand guidelines
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Cost to Create a Social Media App

To get down to the financials, you first need to understand the performance indicators that affect the social media app development cost, such as

  • Business model
  • Number of features
  • Stack with innovations
  • Set of timelines
  • Platform of development
  • Project management
  • User expectations & User management
  • UI/UX complexity
  • Control of programs
  • Quality assurance and consistency
  • Analysis of social media market

However, if you need a rough figure, simply refer to the table below where we have stated the average number of hours it can take for basic and advanced feature development for both Android and iOS.

FeaturesEstimated Man Hours
AndroidiOS
Sign-In77
User Profiles & News Feed1820
Post Likes & Comments1414
Chat2120
Uploading Photos and Videos88
Push notifications34
Privacy & Settings66
Live Streaming2220
Geo-Location & Tagging98
Transient Stories1215
Block or Disable64
AR & Face Filters3230
Multi-Language Support2020
Data Analytics1010

How to Make Money From Your Social Media App?

Most social media apps are free to use. So, advertising is the primary source of revenue. However, there are other ways to make money from free software, aside from putting advertisements. Such as,

  1. Direct Sales

    With a mix of entertaining content feed and an enticing commodity, you will need to find a balance of so much self-promotion and self-expression. In that case, aim to create a social media community with direct purchases. If the mobile app product has a graphic nature and visual appeals, such as interior design, fashion, or real estate, direct sales may be the best option to consider.

  2. In-app Purchases

    Excelling in a course, ebook, video, or audio file that you know members of your community would love to pay enough for? Offer them the ability to access digital content through in-app purchases right from the app, being part of the monetization strategies.

  3. Paid Subscriptions

    As long as the content presents the audience the real value, plenty of them will be ready to opt for a paid subscription. So, do not miss to offer a free tier with decent content and one or two premium levels offering more in-depth or high-value content. Also, with an app-based culture, payment systems from Apple and Google make paid subscribing extremely simple.

  4. Sponsored Content

    Having lots of committed members of the society on your platform doesn’t promise the money. Paid sponsorship does! To turn your audience reach into money, sponsored posts on your platform is the biggest source (Instagram, for example). Sponsored posts are normal posts with a sponsored tag and a button for call-to-action. However, your company has to be transparent and allow only responsible sponsors to fit the member base.

  5. Events and Activities

    Through your community site, you can encourage activity and online user experience for various purchases. Your company just needs to add them to your preferred ticketing site and begin selling them.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a social app?

    Social media apps, also known as social software, provide personal and professional networking and multimedia resources based on the internet. They concentrate on creating and sustaining user connection, promoting the mechanics of user interaction and conversation.

  2. What are the types of social network apps?

    • Social networks (Connect with people)
    • Media sharing networks (Share photos, videos, and other media)
    • Bookmarking networks (Discover, save, and share new content)
    • Consumer review networks (Find and review businesses)
    • Blogging and publishing networks (Publish content online)
    • Discussion forums (Share news and ideas)
    • Interest-based networks (Share interests and hobbies)
  3. What are the best social media apps?

    • Facebook
    • Instagram
    • YouTube
    • Twitter
    • LinkedIn
    • Pinterest
    • Snapchat
    • TikTok
    • WhatsApp
  4. How much does it cost to create a social media app?

    To develop social media platforms with complicated features, sophisticated architecture, and support for two and more channels, the cost of designing such a project is likely to be over $110,000. If you want to create a social media app as MVP, it may cost you around $20,000 to $40,000, depending on the requirements.

  5. How long does it take to make a social media app?

    Based on the various factors like platform, type of app, project management, complexity, it may take 7 to 12 months to make a social media app.

  6. What are the trending features to add to social media apps?

    • AR and Face Filters
    • News-feed & Transient Stories
    • Live Streaming
    • Gen Z Psychology-Fused Features
    • Multi-Language Support
    • The Virtual Reality (VR) Shift
    • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Chatbots

Conclusion

With no strings attached, people want a true digital connection these days and nothing is better than social media platforms. An app like social media channels helps companies and consumers to connect on a real-time basis on a broader scale. Plus, there’s never been a better time to build one.

So, if you are thinking to make a social media app like Instagram for your startup, let’s get connected. We are a professional mobile app development company in Toronto, known for digital transformation for years. Our expert team will help you grasp the new business environment and build a social network app masterpiece. For more queries and consultation, fill out our contact us form and we will connect you with our experts for a 30-mins FREE consultation. See you there!

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Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel
Designation: Co-founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies

Mr. Rakesh Patel is a Founder and CEO of Space-O Canada. He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311.