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How to Develop A Social Media Application and How Much Will it Cost?

  • By Gaurav G.
  • September 30, 2022
  • 368 Views

This guide is for you if you’re interested in learning how to create a beautiful social networking application like Instagram or Facebook. It goes into great detail about the steps involved, the technical requirements, and the price of creating a social media application. Social media apps have changed how we connect and create networks and have been integrated heavily into our daily lives. More than half of the world’s population—4.48 billion people—are active users of social media as of 2021. A new, thriving market for social networking apps has emerged as a result of the rising demand.

There is no finer moment than right now to channel the inner Mark Zuckerberg, Dorsey (a co-founder of Twitter), or Krieger (a co-founder of Instagram), given the burgeoning social media app market’s abundance of possible prospects, and utilization of the procedures documented below to transform the original idea into the approaching popular social networking app.

This blog describes every step in the depth of the process of creating a social media app from scratch. It also discusses how much the app costs in detail. A social media app typically costs between $45,000 and $75,000, depending on a variety of variables.

State 1 – Conducting Comprehensive Research For Ensuring Success

The business analysis phase is where you conduct extensive market and competitor research in order to bring your social media application idea to reality.

Market Research

The user number of social media worldwide has nearly doubled since 2016, and the considerable upgrade can be witnessed in the diagram below. Such rising demand drives the social media application market to become one of the most promising ones to enter.

Image – Reference

The precise function of your social media app will be defined with the aid of market research, which will also help to understand the particular needs of consumers. You will also gain a deeper understanding of the target market and the characteristics of the niche you plan to enter. Your app will fit into one of these categories, which are shown below with some samples, in accordance with current trends in the social networking app industry.

Competition Research

Additionally, conducting a competitive analysis will help you determine the advantages and disadvantages of the apps of your rivals, allowing you to see where your app might have an advantage. It aids in determining what functions your app needs or must not have in order to stand out from the competition.

State 2 – Plan Out The Application Features 

You can plan the features, functionality, and other technical components of your app with the aid of the aforementioned study and analysis. You will also decide on a successful revenue strategy for your social networking app at this time.

Monetization Models For Social Media Applications

You have the choice between an advertising-based business strategy like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, or a freemium business model like LinkedIn. Additionally, you can increase your earnings by letting your users make in-app purchases. You might impose a fee on particular podcasts, ebooks, courses, avatars, etc. You can also mix up the tactics and get creative, depending on the functionality of the app and the intended demographic. Let’s now examine some essential aspects of your app as well as some more sophisticated features.

Must-Have Features of a Social Media Application

  • Sign up & Login – It is the most fundamental but indispensable feature that enables users to access your app. However, customers should find it simple and convenient to download or log in to the app. You can let consumers register using their phone number, email address, and password, as well as by linking with their Google, Facebook, or Twitter accounts.
  • Individual User – Every social media app must have a user profile as a minimum. Users can add their name, location, photo, brief bio, etc. with its assistance. For the delight of consumers, it is recommended to make this function adjustable and multi-dimensional.
  • Chat – Whether for social or professional networking, it is essential to give users access to in-app messaging for private communication. Group chats, voice notes, audio/video calls, chat pop-ups, and other sophisticated features may also be included in this function.
  • Post Creation – Apps for social media play a crucial role in encouraging users to upload their own content. Therefore, depending on the type of app, users should be able to post all content types, including text, photographs, videos, stickers, and more. Additionally, you can include features that allow users to highlight a section of their written post to make it more dynamic, such as filters for photographs, audio/sounds for videos, or other functionality.
  • Post Likes And Comments – User interaction is the lifeblood of social networking apps. A social media app must therefore allow for user-to-user interaction with published material through likes, reposts, reactions, or comments. For greater involvement, you might incorporate a sharing or cross-posting option to other social networking platforms.
  • Newsfeed – Users can view updates from their connections, friends, and groups they follow on the app’s main area, known as the newsfeed. To achieve this functionality and tailor the feed to the tastes of each user, sophisticated algorithms must be used. For instance, you can customize the feed using AI and machine learning algorithms. In-app notifications can also provide comprehensive information on other users’ activity.
  • Search Bar – With the use of a search bar, users may rapidly locate individuals, pages, groups, and other content within an app. By providing sophisticated search, users can use hashtags, keyword searches, or specific filters to uncover more pertinent information.
  • Push Notifications – Push notifications, which instantly alert users to activity in the app without requiring them to log in, are crucial engagement boosters for users. In order for users to mute, disable, or receive notifications and set alerts in accordance with their preferences, it is also important to integrate this feature with a settings panel.

Advanced Features of a Social Media Application

  • Geolocation – With the help of the geolocation feature, users may update their location, identify other users nearby, mark certain spots on photos, and more. Additionally, it enables businesses to advertise or promote products based on the interests of local consumers. For example, dating applications must offer geolocation as a feature.
  • Live video streaming – has been immensely popular among Gen-Z since it enables users to interact with their followers in real-time and share experiences. It’s also a terrific method to interact with the audience while doing live Q&A sessions, interviews, or product or fitness demonstrations.
  • Reality filters – Apps like Instagram and Snapchat have established the standard for augmented reality filters for both still images and moving pictures. Another aspect that appeals to Gen-Z and younger generations is this one. Such filters enable users to change their avatars, instantaneously add a playful twist to their posts, and generate a gamification effect that makes visual content more engaging.
  • Ephemeral content – Once again, Snapchat and Instagram are paving the way for this type of material. Stories and chat messages, for instance, vanish after 24 hours. The rise of short-form information has increased the amount of time people spend each day on social media platforms. Furthermore, it has gained popularity among key Gen-Z and millennial groups that favor authenticity over well-produced brand advertisements.
  • Chatbots with artificial intelligence – Automated AI chatbots are also popular because they can foresee and address common queries, make user interactions simple, and save time. This functionality can also assist in user behavior analysis and enhanced marketing to a focused audience to increase business growth.

State 3: Design & Development

After holding functional specifications and a mind map of the social media app, it is duration to form the process of development. It entails the design of UI/UX, back-end, and front-end development. Below we will examine all the aspects in point.

Design Best Practices

Users are usually drawn to an app’s UI and UX first. Consequently, the app’s design needs to be appealing, clear, and user-friendly. When creating the UI/UX of a social media app, our designers keep the following best practices in mind:

  • It is better to have a clear, uncomplicated design that people can become comfortable with fast. Have a minimum amount of steps required to locate and use a feature, for instance.
  • A successful design also depends on the color scheme that is chosen. To boost brand identification, utilize user-pleasing colors and emphasize your logo.
  • All of the app’s visual aspects are brought together by a single concept thanks to a consistent design language.
  • Round profile photographs draw attention to the users’ faces and make it simpler to pick out individual individuals from a list.
  • To guarantee a similar user experience when a user changes mobile devices or switches to your social networking website, the app’s design should be uniform across all platforms.
  • Finally, the design process will be more efficient if the team makes use of design tools like sketches, wireframes, and mockups to assist everyone to understand how the app functions.

In the SDLC of a social media app, the UI/UX design process and front-end development typically go hand in hand. We will now look at the frameworks and technology stack for Android and iOS. The performance and security of your future application will be directly impacted by the technology you choose to use.

Technology Stack For A Social Media App

A mobile client, backend, and database make up the three tiers of the architecture of a social media app. The approximate tech stack for a social media app is shown below:

Image Reference 

The platforms you want to focus on—iOS, Android, or cross-platform development—must also be chosen. Apple and Android both employ several technological stacks, which we’ll go through in the following section.

Frontend Development

A social networking app’s frontend development is equally important because consumers engage with the user interface most of the time. Excellent choices for developing a mobile frontend for social media apps are Angular and React. These frameworks are widely used and are also useful for the component-based or microservices approach to front-end development.

The main components of a social networking program, such as user profiles, feeds, relationships, and other elements that keep users interested, make up the client-side. The technical execution of these essential social networking mobile app functionalities is examined below.

FeatureImplementation on AndroidImplementation on iOS
Social authorizationFacebook SDK, TwitterCore, Google Play services authenticationFacebook SDK, Google+ SDK, Twitter SDK
User profile– RecyclerView is utilized for displaying info of the user (TextView to display information of the user in text format and ImageView to display profile pictures)
– Network layer: Kotlin Flow, Kotlin Coroutines, Retrofit 2
– UIImageView is utilized for the avatar, UIButton is used to interact with the profile of user & UITableView is used to see all the information of the user
– Network layer: Codable, NSURLSession/Alamofire
Post creationKotlin Flow, Retrofit 2 + self-written solution, Kotlin CoroutinesNSURLSession/Alamofire, Codable + self-written solution
Post likes– UI layer: RecyclerView and TextView is used to display the likers list
– Network layer: Kotlin Flow, Retrofit 2, Kotlin Coroutines
– UI layer: UITableView and UILabel is used to present the likers list
– Network layer: NSURLSession/Alamofire, Codable
NewsfeedRecyclerView, Kotlin Flow, Kotlin Coroutines, Retrofit 2UITableView, RxCocoa, RxSwift, RxDataSources, NSURLSession/Alamofire
Chat– UI layer: RecyclerView
– Network layer: Retrofit 2 is utilized for WebSocket and network requests is utilized for instant messaging (real-time) 
– UI layer: UITableView
– Network layer: Alamofire to execute networking assignments, SocketRocket real-time communication with the server
Search– UI layer: RecyclerView, SearchView
– Network layer: Kotlin Flow, Retrofit 2, Kotlin Coroutines
– UI layer: UISearchBar, UITableView 
– Network layer: NSURLSession/Alamofire, Codable
Push notificationsFirebase Cloud MessagingFirebase Cloud Messaging/Push Notification Service
GeolocationGoogle Maps, Location APIMapKit/ Google Maps

Backend Development

The technology must be more robustly selected for server-side programming and backend development. Your social networking app’s backend impacts its effectiveness, scalability, and efficiency. Additionally, it involves setting up servers, databases, storage options, APIs, etc. It must be dependent on your app’s needs, such as how many users it will have or how much demand the backend will need to support.

You may host your app’s whole infrastructure, including the frontend, backend, and databases, in the cloud. It enables you to scale up when necessary to reduce costs and utilize unused resources during periods of low demand.

An admin panel and database are among the main components of a social networking app’s backend. Let’s go over them in more depth.

  • Database – Massive volumes of data need to be incorporated, processed, and stored for social networking programs. They, therefore, require a database tier. There are numerous options for both SQL and NoSQL databases. You can select from alternatives like MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and more according to the needs of the application.

The amount of data will expand in the future as more people use your app. As a result, your database needs to be scalable, adaptable, and able to handle several queries at once. Speed is also important for social networking apps. Therefore, the database must also be reliable and secure.

  • Admin panel – The data sourced from social networking apps must be monitored and accessed through an admin interface. The number of active users, the content they share, the posts they interact with, and other users’ behaviors are all provided. Applications containing user-generated content must have an admin panel. You may control users and material with it. You can, for instance, delete or block a user account, remove offensive or threatening content, etc.

You may examine user behavior by integrating external analytics tools in the admin panel. It offers insightful information about user preferences, allowing you to add features and adjust your app accordingly.

State 4 – Testing and Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance and Testing are essential elements of a victorious application process of development, and mentioned steps need not be taken out solely after the development. It is most suitable to integrate QA and testing from the origin of the project and take it out throughout the SDLC simultaneously; on the contrary.

To make sure the outcome meets the product requirements, testing and quality assurance identify problems, correct them, and aid in the elimination of crashes. Unit testing, integration testing, device testing, end-user testing, and other functional and non-functional testing types are performed by testers and QA engineers. Depending on the size, complexity, and other requirements of the project, the tests are either carried out manually or through automation.

For social media applications, load testing is important, for example. It assists in determining whether the app operates effectively with one active user or one million active users.

State 5: Growth Analysis After App Launch

Your social network app is now prepared for release on app stores. Your software will need regular upgrades and bug fixes when it is released to the market if any. However, you can use the app’s quantitative indicators and KPIs to monitor the app’s development. It aids in spotting holes and weaknesses and produces data-driven insights to assist you to develop your app and making it more user-friendly. The user engagement and revenue-focused KPIs listed below will help you assess and accelerate business growth.

  • Acquisition: CPI & CAC
  • User activation rate
  • User retention and Churn rate
  • User engagement
  • Traction
  • Burn rate

The market for social media apps is increasing, but if your app offers distinctive features and an original concept, it can still succeed. And now that you understand how to create a social network app from the ground up, you can transform your brilliant app concept into fruitful digital service. With their great ideas and experience, our team of professionals can also assist in transforming your concept into a beautiful app.

Gaurav G.

Gaurav heads global operations at Sterling Technolabs as its CEO and leverages his leadership skills to make Sterling Technolabs the most sought-after Web and App Development Company. His mindset and creative vision have been a reason for building great partnerships in the tech-powered world. Outside of work, Fauxy & Oscar- two amazing pups have his attention.
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