How to Make a Social Media App and Not to Fail [The Fullest Guide]

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27 Apr 2020
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14 min
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Katherine O.
Copywriter
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Evgeny M.
Business analyst

We've updated the article to provide the final price to build a social network app.

Table of contents

Social media apps have changed the way we communicate with each other. People spend a lot of time online, scrolling the news feed on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Not to mention other social apps that are also very interesting for the specific circle of users and can even motivate somebody to develop something similar.

The secret behind the popularity of such apps is the freedom they give to users. It’s possible to share your thoughts, dreams, and achievements with the whole world.

Social media app development is one of the leading directions in the IT industry. Users want to chat, share and exchange ideas with like-minded people.

If you want to find out how to make a social media app, feel free to read our guide and find out the details.

Types of Social Media Apps

If you want to start social app development, you should understand what type of social media your idea belongs to. In this case, you can define your competitors, target audience, and offer users more appropriate functionality.

Let’s single out the existing types of social media apps.

Types of social media apps

6 main types of social media apps

Social Networks

Example: Facebook, LinkedIn

The primary aim of this type is connecting people. Such social networks connect users pursuing different goals. For example, LinkedIn helps find a job and build professional relations. Facebook offers a plenty of thematic groups and almost 2 billion people to befriend with.

Most social network apps allow sharing thoughts, uploading photos and videos. As a result, such features are must-have to build a social network app.

Media Sharing Networks

Example: Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube

From the name, you can see that these networks tend to offer sharing content of various types. Users can share photos, videos, and live videos.

These days, the line between social networks and media sharing networks are blurring since such apps as Facebook also offer to share photos and videos.

However, there are media sharing networks like YouTube that focus on one content type. In this case, you can create a more intuitive social app design, following user expectations and needs.

Discussion Forums

Example: Reddit, Quora

These social media networks gain popularity since people love learning something new from experts and discussing different topics.

Discussion forums allow finding the required information. It’s also possible to start a discussion, ask questions, and get answers from experts or just knowledgeable users.

?

Want to create a Quora-like platform? Discover essential features, tech stack, and monetization models.

Content Sharing Networks

Example: Pinterest, Flipboard

Content sharing networks or bookmarking apps let users save and organize links to various websites or online resources. Users can put links in multiple folders according to the topic.

These platforms can have more exciting features. For example, Pinterest offers users to upload their images. Other users can download pictures they like.

Most users choose these networks to look through creative ideas and get inspired.

Consumer Review Networks

Example: Yelp, TripAdvisor

The primary goal of these apps is to let users share their reviews about brands, products, services, and more.

Consumer review networks can bring new customers to the brand in case of good reviews. Also, companies’ owners can get clients feedback and improve their services or product.

Some platforms review hotels and restaurants and show relevant places according to geolocation services.

Blogging and Publishing Networks

Example: WordPress, Medium

Blogging is not as easy as it sounds. First, you must have excellent writing skills and simply love writing. Bloggers need an app that would let them write posts from all their gadgets. It’s not difficult to build your own social media app like this.

What type of social media app to develop?

Facebook and YouTube are the leaders of the market. However, in recent years, several more platforms have gained popularity.

You can see the most popular social media platforms by the number of users below.

Monthly active users on social media apps

Monthly active users, April 2020 (Source: Statista)

Social Media App Features and Their Cost

To calculate the cost of social media app development, you need to consider the required features since they affect the price significantly. These features should fulfil the expectations of your target audience and solve their problems.

There are two main types of features — MVP and advanced.

?

Want to create an MVP? Learn benefits, steps, examples, and challenges.

Must-have or MVP features stand for basic functionality to satisfy user needs and offer them appropriate user experience. It’s common to launch an MVP version of the social media app and first feedback before investing more money in the idea. It allows understanding what features need improvements. After that, you add several advanced features.

With an MVP, you have more chances to get investments since a working social media app makes stakeholders trust you more.

To give you a hint, we’ve singled out some MVP and advanced features along with their cost.

Must-Have Features to Build a Social Media App

Signup

You should offer users several registration options. For example, you can integrate such options as email and password, phone number and password. To make a social networking app more user-friendly, it’s necessary to add the ‘Forgot password’ feature. In the case of technologies, developers can use Facebook or Google SDK. It’s also possible to choose Amazon services like Amazon SES (signup via phone number) or Amazon SNS (sms verification).

User profile

Depending on a social app type, you should let users create various profiles. This screen should have such options as contacting other users and viewing their media files or posts. A thoughtful profile can make customers subscribe, so you need to consider user experience and page layout.

Search

To find friends or bloggers to follow, users need a comfortable search bar. For example, make it possible to search by tags, user names, and location. Our developers tend to use Elastic search.

News feed

This feature helps users stay tuned. All updates and new information from friends and communities are located here. It’s possible to integrate this feature as Instagram did. In this case, the news feed becomes a home screen of the social media app.

Chat

How to create a social networking app and not to fail? It’s required to add a convenient chat feature. Sending messages, photos, or video files is a vital part of any social network. It’s possible to integrate group chats and channels to let users chat with two users and more. It’s common to use socket.io to develop scalable chats.

Add post

Such social media apps as Instagram or Facebook offer to create posts with different content (photo, video, or text). So, users need to have an opportunity to add photos or videos from the gallery or take photos with a smartphone camera. After that, they can create a short description and post to social media.

Push notifications

There are various push notifications users can get like a new pоst from the community they are subscribed to, a new message, a reaction or comment to their post, and more. Push notifications are good for user engagement. Developers choose FCM to develop push notifications.

Time to create MVP features for a social media app
Feature Back-end development iOS development Android development

Sign in/Login

22 hours

18 hours

18 hours

User profile

72 hours

116 hours

116 hours

Search

38 hours

39 hours

39 hours

News feed

62 hours

106 hours

106 hours

Chat

104 hours

169 hours

169 hours

Add post

12 hours

130 hours

130 hours

Push notifications

15 hours

15 hours

15 hours

Total time

325 hours

593 hours

593 hours

Social media app development: MVP features

Essential features of a social media app

Advanced Features to Create a Social Network App

AR filters

To make social media apps more unique, you can integrate various filters and effects to the photo or video. For example, Instagram and Snapchat have a bunch of AR filters from the dog’s ears to beauty masks. Exciting filters help attract users to your social networking app. To add AR filters to the social media app, developers need to use ML Kit and ARCore. AR technology offers a unique user experience. By the way, we’ve developed an fantastic AR library. Check our GitHub profile to learn more about ARFaceDetection.

ARFaceDetection by Cleveroad

ARFaceDetection

Editing

It’s good to offer users to edit their pictures in your social media app. For example, you can offer such options as crop and rotate images, remove unnecessary objects, create a collage, and more. Developers can integrate editing feature with the help of FFmpeg.

Location-based content

One more exciting feature of a social media app is providing content according to the user’s location. The app analyses the location and shows content posted by other users with the same location. Also, users can add their whereabouts to the photo or video. Google Places can help with developing location-based content features.

Time to create three advanced features of a social media app
Feature Back-end development iOS development Android development

Filters

4 hours

82 hours

82 hours

Editing

-

60 hours

60 hours

Location-based content

10 hours

12 hours

12 hours

Total time

14 hours

154 hours

154 hours

Social medai app development: Advanced features

Advanced features of a social media app

Additional Expenses to Make Your Own Social Media App

Except for features, two more factors have a dramatic impact on the fina price — an admin panel and social app design.

Admin panel

Admin panel provides a bunch of features for user management. It allows to block, edit, or delete users. It’s impossible to manage a great number of users manually. Also, it can show the number of posts of a particular user, offer data about new users, and more. To create an admin panel, developers need at least 138 hours.

?

How do we develop software at Cleveroad? We’ve described the full software development process in our guide.

Design

Social media app design can be a struggle since it requires a decent amount of time and money. Users are demanding these days, so you need to consider creating an attractive UI/UX design. Customers don’t want to spend time on understanding how the app works. So, a user-friendly and intuitive design is a must-have for your social media app. Designers need at least 140 hours to create a design for one platform.

Social media app design

Social media app design by Cleveroad (Source: Dribbble)

Social Media App Development Cost

Considering all the factors we’ve discussed, let’s final time and cost a social media app.

Time required to create your own social network app
Feature Back-end development iOS development Android development

Basic features

325 hours

593 hours

593 hours

Advanced features

14 hours

154 hours

154 hours

Admin panel (one for all platforms)

138 hours

-

-

Frameworks and libraries integration

36 hours

35 hours

35 hours

UI/UX design

-

140 hours

140 hours

Quality assurance

100 hours

120 hours

120 hours

DevOps services

30 hours

35 hours

35 hours

Project management

80 hours

90 hours

90 hours

Total time

723 hours

1167 hours

1167 hours

!

All the estimates below are based on the average rate in our region (Eastern Europe, Ukraine) — $50 per hour.

How to calculate the final price of social media application development? You need to add back-end development time and iOS or Android development time, depending on the chosen platform. After that, you need to multiply the time by the team’s hourly rate or salary.

So, to create a social network app, you need at least $94,500 for one platform (iOS or Android) and $152,850 for two platforms.

Cost to make a social media app
Platform Time Cost

Total for one app (iOS or Android)

1890 hours

$94,500

Total for two apps (iOS and Android)

3057 hours

$152,850

However, the price can vary depending on the location of the development team. For example, software builders from North America have higher hourly rates in comparison to developers from Eastern Europe.

We’ve estimated the approximate cost to make a social media app for iOS and Android in different regions of the world:

  • Eastern Europe. $152,850 (based on $50/h)
  • North America. $305,700 (based on $100/h)
  • Western Europe. $275,130 (based on $90/h)
  • Australia. $305,700 (based on $100/h)

How to Develop a Social Media App: Tech Stack and Team

Building a social media app for iOS and Android requires various specialists. We’ve listed the demanded team members below.

  • Project Manager
  • UI/UX designer
  • 1 or 2 iOS developers
  • 1 or 2 Android developers
  • Back-end developer
  • QA engineer

Various tools and technologies can be used during social media app development. If you want to make a mobile app, there are such programming languages as Swift (iOS) and Kotlin (Android). To give you a hint, our developers created a list of required technologies to develop a social media app.

!

Note: Choosing the tech stack for your social media app, you need to consult with professionals. The final toolset always depends on your technical needs and project requirements.

iOS app

  • Programming language: Swift
  • Networking: Alamofire

Android app

  • Programming language: Kotlin
  • Networking: OkHttp 3

Back-end development

  • Programming language: Node.js
  • Framework: Express 4
  • Database: MySQL
  • Chat: Socket.io
  • Singup: Amazon SES, Amazon SNS
  • API: Swagger

Tools

  • Push notifications: FCM
  • Geolocation: Google Maps
  • Storage: Amazon S3
  • Emails: Elastic Email
  • Search: Elastic search
  • AR filters: ML Kit, ARCore
Got lost in the tech stack?
Apply for a free consultation and get answers to your questions.

How Do Social Media Apps Make Money: Monetization Models

How to create a social media app and make it profitable?

You need to consider several monetization strategies to get revenue. Here are several popular ways:

  • Advertisements
  • Premium features
  • Venture Capital

Let’s single out the details of each option.

Advertisements

Ads are the most popular way to get revenue for a social media platform. A lot of apps choose this variant to let customers use the app for free. For example, Instagram shows relevant posts and stories to the users in their news feed. As for YouTube, it plays ads before playing the video.

Premium features

A lot of social networking sites (e.g. YouTube, LinkedIn) offer premium subscriptions to get some additional features. For example, LinkedIn offers premium options for job seekers. Users can see who looked at their profile and get access to 15,000+ learning courses to improve their skills and knowledge.

Venture capital

Many large social media networks start with funding from venture capitalists. The main examples are Twitter and Facebook. These companies have raised several million dollars in venture capital. The primary goal is to monetize the social media app or sell it to larger enterprises to get profit.

How social media apps make money

3 ways to monetize social media app

How Can We Help?

Underneath, I listed just a couple of social media projects we built for our clients.

Ayoo

Ayoo is a global social network to connect dancers from all over the world. It’s currently available on iOS.

Ayoo

Ayoo

It’s equipped with a bunch of interactive features like battle or duets where users can dance with or against one another to show their talents. The app’s interface is based on traditional news feed so that all friends will be able to see your performances.

Ayoo's tech stack

Ayoo's tech stack

Greenlight

Greenlight is a social network for dating available on iOS.

Greenlight

Greenlight

The main project idea was to develop a solution that works as a traffic light. Green light means Superlike, a great sympathy, Yellow is similar to Like, a fellow feeling. And red light means Dislike accordingly.

This app has a bunch of cool features like matching and a list of chats. As a result, users can find new friends or a partner online.

Greenlight's tech stack

Greenlight's tech stack

To find out more about our recent projects, you're welcome to study our portfolio. Also, feel free to check our Dribbble and Behance accounts to study our designers’ works.

Ready to make a social media app?
Book a FREE consultation with our business analysts and get an estimation!

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Comments
EM
Emmie Morin
08.05.2020 at 12:45
Wow, great! Such a nice post that covered all the details of social media app development. I enjoyed a tech part a lot. Especially required tools for each feature. Thanks for shraring.
OG
Océane Garcia
13.05.2020 at 22:38
Cool post! Thanks)
JB
Julika Bambacht
23.05.2020 at 20:48
A bunch of useful information. Keep posting!
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