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How to Create a Social Media App Making no Mistakes in 2021

17 Aug 2021

15 Min

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We’ve updated the article to add the final price to make an educational app.

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 networking 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.

Social Media Apps Market Prospects

The social media and social applications industry is currently one of the largest with a total user base of 4.48 billion social media users worldwide in 2021. This is equal to 56% of the total population of the planet. With such a huge user base, you can definitely find your niche. The most interesting thing is that the development of the number of users does not stop and every year there is a steady growth of the user base by 13.1%. If the percentages don't impress you, let's say that this figure is 16 new social media users per second.

However, in addition to the number of users, this industry can boast of audience retention, as each of these users spend an average of 2 and a half hours a day on social networks. And 99% of users spend this time through social media apps on mobile devices. That is why we touched on the topic of social media application development in our article.

As you can see, this niche is a fast-growing industry with a stunning user base and the trend will definitely not change in the coming years.

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 app

Various 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 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 a 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. But 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.

Popular social media apps

Popular social media apps

Social Media App Features and Their Cost

To calculate the cost of social networking 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 media 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.

Newsfeed

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 media 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.

Must-have features for social media app

Main features of social media apps

So now is the time to talk about how long it will take to develop these features. In this article, we will consider the development time of the Back-end part (everything that happens "behind the scenes" of the application) and the Front-end part for each platform separately. At its core, we will describe the development time for features for a native iOS and Android application. This means that you will have two separate versions of the application that will not overlap in any way and are created exclusively to work on the same platform.

Despite this, there are cross-platform applications that are designed to run on both iOS and Android. The development of such an application takes a different amount of time and we will not consider it in this article.

Time to create MVP features for a social media app

FeatureBack-End development (hours)iOS development (hours)Android development (hours)

Sign in and Log in

52

18

18

User profile

72

116

116

Search

38

39

39

Newsfeed

62

106

106

Chat

104

169

169

Add post

12

130

130

Push notifications

15

15

15

Total time

355

593

593

Advanced Features to Build a Social Network App

AR filters

To make a social media app 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 a fantastic AR library. Check our GitHub profile to learn more about 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 features 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.

Nice-to-have features for social media app

Nice-to-have features

Time to create three advanced features of a social media app

FeatureBack-End development (hours)iOS development (hours)Android development (hours)

Filters

4

130

130

Editing

-

60

60

Location-based content

10

12

12

Total time

14

202

202

Additional Expenses to Create a Social Media App

Admin panel

The admin panel is the command center for your application and is required if you want to create a social media app. With it, you have control over the entire system, all the features, and everything that happens in it. Through the admin panel, you can register new users, monitor user behavior on the social network, ban users in case of violation of the rules, and much more.

In addition, you can place advertising integrations from advertisers (we will talk about advertising and ways to earn social media apps a little later) and monitor the success of your application through detailed analytics (number of new users, average online time, etc.).

Design

Designing a social media app is an incredibly demanding process as design can both attract users to your app and scare them away. This is why you need to have not only an experienced UI / UX design team but also some knowledge of the design trends of such applications. Here are some of them:

  • The most preferred color is blue and its shades, as it is not considered annoying.
  • Don't use different navigation bars for different sections of the app. Simplicity is the key to success.
  • Despite the need to adapt the design for separate iOS and Android platforms, the design should show common features for both platforms.
  • Implement infinite scrolling of messages.
  • The ability to easily customize the design by the user (theme color, images on the background of chats, etc.).
  • Easily find users and relevant content.

Post-Release Marketing

Post-release marketing is also an additional cost item, since after the release you need to actively grow your audience of users. No one denies that on release you may already have a prepared user base thanks to a pre-release marketing company. However, the faster you grow users, the faster the project will pay off and start generating income.

Post-release marketing usually includes buying ads on thematic platforms, advertising banners, buying promotions in app markets, informational articles, video reviews and other content that will help make people talk about your application.

Social Networking App Development Cost

Considering all the factors we’ve discussed, let’s finalize the cost of a social media app.

Time required to create your own social network app

FeatureBack-End development (hours)iOS development (hours)Android development (hours)

Basic features

325

593

593

Advanced features

14

154

154

Admin panel (one for all platforms)

140

140

140

Frameworks and libraries integration

14

202

202

UI/UX design

-

196

196

Quality assurance

140

168

168

DevOps

42

49

49

Project management

112

126

126

Total time

787

1574

1574

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 $118,050 for one platform (iOS or Android) and $196,750 for two platforms.

Cost to make a social media app

PlatformTime (hours)Cost ($)

Total for one app (iOS or Android)

2361

118,050

Total for two apps (iOS and Android)

3935

196,750

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. $196,750 (based on $50/h)
  • North America. $393,500 (based on $100/h)
  • Western Europe. $354,150 (based on $90/h)
  • Australia. $393,500 (based on $100/h)

How to Build a Social Media App: Tech Stack and Team and Development Steps

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

Development Pipeline

In order to create a social media app, you also need to know how the development process works. Since we are an outsourcing company, in our guide we will consider outsourcing development. Let’s begin.

Step #1. First contact

The first stage, without which it is impossible to start development. You contact the company and leave a request on the vendor's website. This request is processed by the company's manager and as soon as it is approved, the company contacts you to discuss the details of your application.

Step #2. Discovery phase

Discovery phase consists of meetings where a business analyst is gathering information about your business, goals, and project idea. When all information is gathered, the business analyst compiles it in detailed documentation, which helps make a final project estimate. Besides that, UI/UX designers create wireframes for each app screen during this phase.

Step #3. UI/UX design

As soon as the discovery phase is over, the active phase of the application design development begins. UI / UX designers use wireframes from the past phase, client requirements, and the latest design trends to create full-fledged app mockups that reflect the final look of the app.

Step #4. Development process

Once mockups are done, designers send them to developers so they can start app development. Development is divided into sprints, the length of which is two weeks. During these periods, developers must develop the agreed part of the functionality.

Step #5. Quality assurance

In order to provide a pleasant user experience, your application must be bug-free. QA engineers conduct thorough testing of all functionality, and if they find bugs and malfunctions, they pack them into bug reports. These reports help developers identify the problem and quickly fix it.

Step #6. Release and maintenance

The development is coming to an end and the developers make final edits and polish to the project. After that, the developers transfer the application to the customer with all the best practices and the cooperation can be considered complete. However, no one forbids you to continue to cooperate and keep the application updated with this vendor.

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
  • In-app purchases

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.

In-app purchases

Another way to monetize these apps is to add paid content that users can buy. For example, Facebook has its own sticker store where users can buy their favorite pack of stickers and then use it in the official Facebook messenger.

Social apps monetization

Social media apps monetizaton strategies

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 app

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 a traditional news feed so that all friends will be able to see your performances.

Ayoo app technologies

Ayoo app tech stack

Greenlight

Greenlight is a social network for dating available on iOS.

Greenlight application

Greenlight app

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 technologies

Greenlight tech stack

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