How to Build a Social Media App in 2023: From Idea to Launch

According to BusinessOfApps, mobile device users spend an average of 2 hours and 20 minutes on social media apps, and social networking accounts are held by 55% of the world's population. At Lampa, we believe these figures are compelling enough to recognize that creating a social media app is a promising business idea worth bringing to life.

In this article, we'll explore the key features of such software and how to develop a social media app that meets all the requirements. We'll also discuss the importance of quality post-release support and timely updates.

Understanding the Concept of a Social Media App

A social media application is a platform that allows people to exchange messages and share photos, videos, and audio content. These apps can be downloaded on tablets or smartphones or accessed through internet browsers.

To fulfill their primary purpose, these solutions must provide users with certain stuff, including:

  • Intuitive and interactive UI/UX interface: Extensive research has shown that high-quality UI design can increase website conversion by 200%, while thoughtful UX can double that to 400%. The user interface is where people interact with the program, so the clearer, more logical, and more responsive it is, the better the user experience and the more popular the app.

  • High-level security: A quality social media app should include two-factor authentication, a method of accessing an account that requires a password, and an OTP code received via SMS. This added security measure protects data from leaks even if a user's login credentials become known to third parties.

  • Messaging and video call support: Communication between users is the primary purpose of such digital solutions. Therefore, developing a social media app without these features would be meaningless. To outshine competitors, consider implementing advanced functionality in this area, such as push notifications, group chats, video calls, user presence indicators, message delivery, and read notifications.

  • Chat moderation: If your app includes a chat feature, the content posted there should undergo moderation or monitoring. This ensures user safety and offers certain benefits for your business. For instance, moderating user-generated content helps retain customers, increases brand visibility, and helps establish user behavior patterns.

  • Cross-platform compatibility: When making a social media app, remember that users may access it from various devices and platforms. Statistics show that 99% of the audience uses various mobile devices for this purpose, with 78% accessing their social media profiles exclusively from smartphones, 1.3% from desktop computers, and 20% from both PCs and smartphones equally.

There are ten main types of social media apps:

  1. Social networks: These platforms enable users to interact, share content, and participate in group discussions. Examples include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and more.
  2. Forums: Users share thoughts and news and discuss various topics on these platforms. They can be valuable for market research, conducting public polls, and building an effective marketing strategy. Examples include Reddit, Quora, Clubhouse, and others.
  3. Image-sharing networks: These apps allow users to share visual content, with Instagram being a prime example, as it primarily focuses on photos, videos, and images.
  4. Social bookmarking websites: Users create electronic bookmarks to save useful links, posts, articles, and other information for future reference. Examples include Flipboard and Pocket.
  5. Blogging and publishing platforms: Users can maintain their blogs without creating a separate website. Popular resources in this category include Facebook and Tumblr.
  6. Consumer review networks: Users leave reviews about different products or services, benefiting both consumers and businesses offering quality products. Examples include TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and Google My Business.
  7. Interest-based networks: People with similar interests or professional fields gather on these platforms. For instance, book lovers gather on Goodreads, while fitness enthusiasts unite on Strava.
  8. Collaborative consumption networks: People can share goods and services through these platforms, such as pet-sitting arrangements or finding partners for bulk purchases. Examples include Couchsurfing and Lending Club.
  9. Social shopping networks: These apps focus on successful purchases, with users sharing information about favorite brands, sales, and interesting finds. Ordinary social networks like Facebook or Instagram are increasingly used for this purpose.
  10. Video hosting platforms: These solutions make it easy to share various video content, including amateur videos, advertisements, and works by aspiring filmmakers. Popular examples are TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat.

Conducting Market Research

According to data provided by the B2B review and rating platform GoodFirms, 72% of new mobile solutions fail to meet the needs of their target audience due to inadequate market research. So, how can you start a social media app without falling into this overwhelming majority and create a truly high-quality application? Pay ample attention to the research phase.

First and foremost, analyze your target audience and their needs and evaluate your competitors in the market. To do this, take the following steps:

  1. Identify trends in the social media app landscape. Here are some of them:
    Conducting Market Research
  2. Identify the flagship digital solution in your field and study its strengths and weaknesses. For instance, in 2023, Facebook leads in popularity with nearly 3 million active monthly users, while YouTube and WhatsApp rank second and third with 2.5 and 2 million active users, respectively.

To conduct effective market research, you can utilize various tools commonly used in the global market:

  • Websites with open market data: These provide statistical information about competitors and consumers and access to expert opinions.

  • Social media platforms: Use existing digital solutions to analyze your target audience's behavior and needs.

  • Analytical software: Such solutions help store and process large data sets.

  • Digital recorders: These resources allow companies to record customer interactions in audio or text format, analyze the recordings, and address shortcomings.

  • CRM platforms: Customer relationship management platforms contain comprehensive user information and allow its use for analysis.

  • Competitors Analysis Tools: Applications that help find relevant information about competitors.

  • Surveys: A good way to gather objective information from consumers.

  • Predictive analytics and modeling tools: Necessary for identifying patterns in large data sets to forecast events.

  • Text analytics tools: Designed to analyze customer reviews or other user-generated text content to understand the target audience better.

Defining App Goals and Features

If you're wondering how to make a social media app, it's essential to understand why you're embarking on this venture. In other words, know the goals and objectives of your future digital solution.

In brief, the primary goal of any social media app is to connect users worldwide. Depending on the type of app – as we discussed earlier – the mode of communication will differ. For example, Facebook allows messaging, video calls, and content sharing, while LinkedIn is more of a professional networking platform.

More importantly, let's talk about the goals of creating a social media app – what exactly such software can bring to your business:

  • Attracting customers through valuable media content.

  • Expanding the target audience by creating interest-based networks and similar resources.

  • Running effective marketing campaigns by developing a branded app that helps understand the target audience.

  • Enhancing user retention through constant communication and customer support.

Once you've defined the goals and objectives of your future app, you can move on to its development. We've prepared a roadmap for social media app development:

Defining App Goals and Features

Now let's talk more specifically about some of the steps on how to create a social media app. 

Designing the User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX)

As we mentioned earlier, the user interface is one of the most critical components of a social media app from the customers' perspective. Let's take a look at some characteristics that a high-quality UI of such a mobile app for Android and iOS should possess:

  • Simplicity: Ensure that each action within the app can be accomplished with minimal steps and that all of them are intuitively understandable.

  • Convenience: Remember that nearly 80% of the audience access social networks through smartphones. To provide a positive user experience, ensure the app's navigation can be easily done with one finger.

  • Consistent Visual Concept: Plan the interface logic and create all blocks, buttons, fonts, and structure in a unified style.

Furthermore, when developing the UI/UX design, consider the following aspects:

  • Wireframing: Creating screen maps with clear navigation between them.

  • Prototyping: Building a layout or a draft version of the app.

  • User Testing: Evaluating the UI based on its usability.

Implementing these steps in creating the user interface will make it highly convenient for your customers.

Choosing the Right Technology Stack

The choice of the tech stack for building a social media app is highly individual. It depends on the app's type, desired functionality, and the skills of the specialists.

At Lampa, based on our own experience, we have compiled a list of effective tools for developing an app for Android and iOS:

Category 

Android

iOS

Programming language

Java, Kotlin

Swift, Objective-C

Integrated development environment

Android Studio

Xcode

Software development kit

Android SDK, iOS SDK

Cocoa Touch, iOS SDK

Architectural pattern

MVVM

MVC, MVVM, Clean, Viper

Library 

Retrofit, OkHttp, Gson, Firebase tools, Glide, Dagger (Hilt), GoogleMaps, Firebase tools

AVFoundation, AVKit, Core Animation, Core Location, GoogleMaps, Firebase tools, SwiftLint, SwiftGenSwiftyJSON

UI technologies

RecyclerView, Android Jetpack Navigation

SwiftUI, UIKit

Notifications

Google Cloud Messaging

Apple Push Notifications, Firebase Cloud Messaging

Testing tools

JUnit, Mockito, Charles, Postman

XCTest, XCUITest, Charles, PostmanAppium, Katalon

Developing and Testing the App

Modern teams use an agile approach to software development, which involves testing at all stages of SDLC. This helps save project budget since fixing bugs early in development can be up to 100 times cheaper than during maintenance.

How to build a social network app? 7 Development Stages​

How to build a social network app? 7 Development Stages

At Lampa, we are ready to support you through all stages of creating a social media app – from discussing your idea to providing ongoing support and updates after its release.

Launching and Marketing the App

Once your digital solution is ready, you must focus on its promotion. To ensure a successful app launch, we recommend following these tips:

  • Define your target audience: Users quickly get disappointed with a product that doesn't meet their expectations, and such an app won't last long.

  • Analyze your competitors: Identify what they are doing wrong and try to improve your promotion strategy accordingly.

  • List your app in PreApps: This website lets app owners publish information about their product before its official release, generating interest and attracting beta testers.

  • Emphasize social media marketing: Advertise your app during beta testing. Utilize screenshots, promotional videos – anything encouraging potential customers to use it.

  • Prepare for the launch: Ideally, create a website containing detailed information about the app and provide customer support.

Now, go ahead and place your digital product in the app store – and await the first downloads!

Post-Launch Maintenance and Updates

This final stage is as important as the rest. Remember, users interact with a completed app, so they care more about its smooth functionality than how it was developed. Pay attention to these points to avoid disappointing your clients after release:

  • Regularly check the app for correct operation and promptly fix any bugs.

  • Gather feedback from users and use it to implement relevant updates and improvements.

  • Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and analyze the app's success.

Wondering how to create a social network app from scratch? At Lampa, we know how to develop and launch in-demand digital products. Feel free to reach out for consultation right away!

Conclusion

Need to create a social media app? Come to us with your idea! We are ready to apply cutting-edge technologies and tools to ensure your product meets global quality standards.

Need professional assistance gathering all the required artifacts to build a mobile app? Order product ideation services from Lampa!

FAQ

1. How can I differentiate my social media app from existing platforms?

You can create an original app design and implement innovative technologies like AI, VR, or AR to stand out among competitors.

2. What technologies are commonly used for developing a social media app?

The choice of technologies depends on the platform for which the app is being developed. For example, Java and Kotlin are used for Android, while Swift and Objective-C are used for iOS. Android Studio is suitable for the former, and Xcode for the latter. Read more in our material.

3. How can I ensure the security and privacy of user data in my social media app?

Modern development teams use the latest technologies to protect their users' data. For example, all information stored on the server is encrypted, and two-factor authentication is used for account access.

4. What are the key features that should be included in a social media app?

Key features of a social media app include messaging and video calling support, as well as the ability to share media content.

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

The development timeline for such an app depends on its complexity, required features, the tech stack used, and the experience of the app development company. Creating an MVP version of your software product alone can take over 1000 hours.

Tags:
Mobile Apps
Social network
Startup

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