Social media apps are all the rage nowadays. They have taken over almost all spheres of our lives and a lion’s share of the application market. And this craze shows no signs of withering. But will users flock to another social media app like yours? That is one of the sixty-four-thousand-dollar questions the startup founders are pondering in their heads when they bounced the idea of making one.
Nevertheless, lots of business owners who cannot waste the opportunity to hop on the social media train, think of building new social media platforms. If you are also mulling over this business idea, you’ve come across the right blog post. This article will look under the covers of the development process and provide a comprehensive guide on social media apps.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Social Media – Then And Now
Before we dive into the development nuances, let’s go down memory lane to have a better understanding of this market. Back in the 70s, there was only one early version of social media platforms – the PLATO system. This ancestor featured a message-forum application, instant-messaging feature, online chat room, an online newspaper, blog, and Access Lists. Not bad for the 70s, don’t you think?
Now that we have rolled into the roaring 2020s, there are countless options of social media platforms to choose from. Leading companies like Facebook and Youtube are sitting comfortably on top of the list. With that said, according to Statista, the most popular social media platforms worldwide are Facebook, YouTube, Whatsapp, and Facebook Messenger.
When chewing over the idea of creating a social media app, you should take into account that mobile application is your major success factor. As far as the costs involved, it should be noted that the backend will likely guzzle up most of the time and budget.
Now let’s move on to the most interesting part, which is the development process.
How To Make A Social Media App The Right Way
With a team of aces and a well-built plan, the success chances are high. Nevertheless, you should turn your mind to the following aspects:
1. Leverage Popular Social Media Networks
The less time it will take to hop onto the communication, the more users will download your app. They have already signed up to other social media platforms around a thousand times, so there’s no need to make them fill lengthy forms again. Offer a shortcut to your app experience with a social media login.
2. Authentic Self-Expression
The very act of communicating in the Social Age offers new affordances for creative self-representation and unique stances. Your application should satisfy the artistic side of the users by offering some expression-driven features like photo effects, background color, themes, and so on.
3. Driving Engagement On The Activity Feed
Every leading social application, like Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and others include an activity or Newsfeed in its interface. This feature typically includes user-generated content such as photos, profile changes, and birthdays, as well as “professional”, hobby-themed or interest-centered content like blog posts from media organizations, celebrities, etc.
It is an essential feature from the user’s standpoint since newsfeeds help social media birds to put themselves out there.
4. Connection With Other Services
To ensure a richer and more engaging experience, you should connect your application with other services. This will boost your user retention since users won’t have to go back and forth between the applications, as your app is an all-in-one option. The most popular third-party services include:
- Relationship networks (Facebook, Tinder)
- Media sharing sites and platforms (TikTok, Youtube)
- Online reviews
- Discussion forums
- Social publishing platforms (Medium, Tumblr)
- Social bookmarking (StumbleUpon, Dribble)
- Hobby-centered networks (Goodreads, LastFM)
Connecting your platform with all the aforementioned services will boost your app visibility and bring new audiences to your application.
5. Private Communication
Today, messaging apps stack up against other communication channels such as e-mail and telephone. Therefore, you must make sure that your users will have access both to public interaction and private communication. This way, your audience won’t opt for other messengers and linger on your application for longer. However, your developers must pay attention to data security measures, as a safe user experience is a top priority in the modern cyberthreat-prone world.
Now that you’ve gained at least a general understanding of the app staples, let’s go over to the actual development process.
The Development Process – Comprehensive Overview
Every software development company follows an established and time-proven workflow, fine-tuned to their development practices. Below we have shared some crucial stages that are present in every application building process.
Step 1 – Identify The Right Product Fit
During the initial stage, the development team analyzes your business idea and assesses its feasibility. Also, it is in the first stage when software specialists define requirements, find the right target audience, and flag the KPIs that are to be nailed. This way, you define the future and the path to reach your destination.
Step 2 – Design Strategy
The design and architecture stage is a quite complex and lengthy process that includes various aspects:
It is a design practice, central to design thinking and learning. It allows developers to evaluate the future logic of your application, the number of screens, and the flow between them.
It is a low-detail representation of the design. Its main aim is to demonstrate major content groups, information structure, and a description of the user’s interaction with the interface and its approximate visualization.
A wireframe is not just a meaningless set of gray blocks, although it looks that way. Think of it as the skeleton of your design, and remember that it should represent all the important elements of the final product.
It’s an early sample of the final product that simulates the user’s interaction with the interface. It should allow the user to evaluate the content and interface and test the main ways of interaction. It provides a more precise product vision both for the customer and developers. Prototypes are crucial for the app development process, as it is much easier to revise an idea and make improvements to it before the building process begins.
Design App Skins
This stage presupposes turning wireframes into social app design. The dev team analyzes the working solutions, tracks the latest trends, and enhances UI/UX to come up with the most suitable option.
Step 3 – Development & Quality Assurance For iOS And Android
The second and third stage usually go hand in hand in the life cycle of a social media mobile app. The development process usually starts after the app prototype is ready. First, the software engineers set up the back-end of your application which accounts for data storage, security, and business logistics. The back-end is a behind-the-scenes ingredient that stores and sorts the important information hidden from the users’ eyes.
A delivered product should comply with the pre-defined technical specifications, user, and platform requirements. The most effective way to build an application is to opt for native apps. They are built specifically for a mobile operating system such as Apple iOs and Android.
Although a native app is not interchangeable within different operating systems, it offers a superior user experience and is faster and reliable than other alternatives. Also, native applications are highly customizable and offer a wide variety of structure and visual appeal.
Manual and automatic testing is another indispensable process when building high-quality software. When run at every development stage, it allows for instant feedback to ensure that you end up where you planned. And if feedback discerns an issue or a defect, developers will have the opportunity to fix these issues right off the bat.
Step 4 – Mobile App Promotion
When you have finally created your social media app and are ready to put it forward, you should keep tabs on your marketing campaign. Publishing and promotion are paramount for your app’s success. Unless you market your app to your target users, it will get lost in the sea of other social media apps out there.
Experienced mobile teams are well aware of the fact that developing and releasing a mobile app is just a pittance in producing a five-star mobile app. To make your app successful, you need to monitor the right metrics, update and iterate your application to your target objective.
Step 5 – Maintenance & Support
Maintaining an app is critical to its overall success. That is why developers should plan for countless updates, improvements, and fixes to make sure the app handles the growing load and stays up to date.
Social Media KPIs
When it comes to releasing a brand new social media app into the wild, you need to figure out how to measure the performance of your product. Core metrics like user engagement, burn rate, CPI, and others help troubleshoot performance issues and ensure a flawless user experience.
The set of metrics varies depending on the app type, but there are some essential instruments that are widely used for most applications:
Acquisition: CPI & CAC
CPI or Cost per install – means that the partner is paid for the user downloading, installing, and opening the app. Essentially, installing and opening an app is also an action, so you could say CPI is a type of CPA. However, it’s important to separate the two for ease of perception.
By choosing CPI, the advertiser can attract traffic from the greatest number of sources, as they are usually tailored to work with this particular format.
Customer Acquisition Cost is the cost of attracting a new customer. In the context of digital marketing, this term is used to define the cost that an advertiser incurs to attract a customer. To calculate this figure, you need to add up the costs of marketing, sales, and advertising over a certain period, and then divide the result by the number of new customers.
This metric demonstrates users’ engagement with your service. Typically, it’s a particular number of your clients who use your social media app.
User Retention And Churn Rate
Customer retention is a company’s ability to retain its customers for a certain period. In practice, it’s a particular number of users who came back to the service based on the date of their first visit.
Success in customer retention is measured by the Retention Rate which is the opposite of the churn rate.
Churn rate is the percentage of users who abandoned the service. For a company to grow, the inflow of new clients must exceed the outflow.
User engagement refers to how frequently and how long a user executes particular actions within your application, including Session Length and Interval.
Burn rate is the average amount of money an app guzzles up. The number also demonstrates critical resources for future progress.
The Final Word
So there we have it. In this article, we’ve gone on a whirlwind tour of social media app development. As you see, it’s quite a risky, resource-demanding, and labor-intensive undertaking. However, if you pick the right niche, perform professional business analysis, and hire a team of experienced professionals, your efforts will come to fruition.
If you are interested in even more app-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.