How To Build A Social Media App – Make Your Own Social Network Platform In 2021

Information and communication technology has seen a considerable amount of change in recent years. Most of these changes can be attributed to the emergence of social networking applications. The pace of these changes was unfathomably fast, and it is still accelerating.

Just a decade ago, social media was merely an extra entertaining activity. Today, it is a fully integrated part of nearly every aspect of most people’s lives.

Social media started to see significant growth in users right around the time mobile technology started rapidly advancing. As smartphones became more accessible and easier to use, people began spending a large share of their time on them. Mobiles offered easy connectivity with anyone, anywhere, at any time.
Social Media Channel ComparisonThe New York Times Consumer Insight Group conducted a study to understand what motivates people to share information on social media. The results of this study are quite fascinating. Social media is now being used for many more things than what it was initially intended for. Most people use it to pass on valuable content to others. People also use it to support a cause or issue they feel strongly about.

The number of people who use social media to nurture relationships and stay in touch with others is significantly less than the people who use it for other reasons. As a result, social media has evolved from a tool used to keep in touch with loved ones. Now it is something that can truly impact society. Today, social media has the power to shape the media, education, culture, politics, and business.
How To Build A Social Media App – Make Your Own Social Network Platform In 2021

Fig: Stats of social media impact

How Do Scalable Social Media Apps Work?

Scalability is an application’s ability to maintain or improve efficiency as it is faced with more load. As the pressure on a server increases, response time increases as well. In such situations, developers are faced with the issue of making their app scalable.

An additional server can be added to distribute the load evenly. All servers can operate efficiently by reducing the burden on one. Otherwise, specific adjustments can be made to code and architecture to make it more efficient. Application scalability is a measure of efficiency as load increases.

Scalability is not only about increasing the capacity of servers or databases when needed, but it is also applicable for the technologies used to build the application, developers have to ensure that technologies used to create an application are scalable and have an excellent support ecosystem.

In most cases, to make an app scalable, it needs to be designed to be scaled. Developers will have to take care of several factors. They will need to be more careful with session data and routing requests to the right server. These are the factors that bottleneck the ability of the application to scale. We will now look at the working of various features of efficient social media apps.

Platon Levitski

Co-Founder and CEO of Tito

Social media is such a crowded space that to stand out, you have to provide people with something they don’t already get today – one way to do this is to make your platform uncommonly useful.

1. How Facebook Livestreams To 800,000 Viewers Simultaneously

In 2016, Facebook launched a feature that allows people to share videos in real-time. The traffic pattern in live videos is unlike regular videos. There is a steep rise in the initial traffic. The traffic in live streams is also very irregular. It gets much more traffic than standard videos, but the traffic can also suddenly drop. This unusual traffic puts a significant load on the caching system. To prevent overloading the system, Facebook distributes traffic to points of presence (PoPs) around the world.
Facebook Livestreams Architecture

Fig: Facebook livestreams architecture

Within the PoPs, there are two layers. One is a layer of HTTP proxies, and another is a layer of cache. Viewers request a segment from an HTTP proxy. If the segment is in the cache, it is returned. Otherwise, a request for the segment is sent to the datacenter. Since different parts are stored in various caches, the load is balanced. The load for each PoP is measured, and the user is directed to the closest PoP with sufficient capacity. Load predicting algorithms are crucial to this process.

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2.How Twitter Handles 3000 Images Per Second

Twitter achieved this insane feat by decoupling media upload from tweeting. This gave them a lot of flexibility in how an upload was handled. The client talks to TFE (Twitter Front End), and TFE talks to Image Service. The Image Service adds the data into a Metadata store. Then it creates a unique identifier called mediaId for the media. MediaId is used as a reference to handle the media. Twitter also made media uploads segmentable and resumable.

Twitter Handles
Fig: Twitter architecture

First, the client initializes the upload session with the upload API. Then, the backend will give it a mediaId. This mediaId is used for the rest of the session. Each image is divided into many segments. These segments are appended using the API. Once the upload is completed, it is finalized, and the media is ready to be used. Each segment can be retried. Therefore, this method is more resilient to network failures.

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The Technology Stack Used By Social Media Apps

The two most important aspects of an app are frontend and backend. So, choosing the right technology stack for each part is crucial.

Frontend

This is the user interface of the application. The user spends all their time interacting with the UI. Hence, frontend is an essential part of a social networking app. Ionic framework, React, and Redux are excellent options for mobile frontend. The most popular and widely used frontend frameworks include AngularJS and ReactJS. Both are open-source and are developed by Google and Facebook, respectively.

Along with the optimization of page content and libraries, the use of CDN also ensures that the application has a faster load time. It loads content from the nearest location of the user. The use of AWS Cloudfront can make a significant difference in terms of loading speed along with supporting caching strategy.

Backend

Node.js is the most famous tool used for backend development. It can be used to create dynamic social media apps with chats, likes, and comments. It also has excellent data processing capabilities. By pairing Node.js with Ember.js, you can make your application scalable. Microservice application strategy must be followed to create scalable applications. If you create a microservice for a social networking app, it can be scaled easily. Therefore, even if it goes down, the entire site will not be affected.

The use of technologies like Queue can also help in batch processing huge asynchronous requests like sending emails, notifications on the backend.

Database

Social media apps require a lot of processing power to process enormous amounts of data. Most social media apps use JSON format. Many prominent databases support this format. You can choose from options like SQLite, MySQL, or NoSQL database.

For such applications, speed is critical. Hence, developers have to design the database layer considering read latency, write latency, etc., while making sure it has support in different regions.

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The entire infrastructure, including frontend, backend, and databases, can also be provided by cloud service providers. This means that the servers are on the cloud, and the app accesses it through a cloud. The most popular cloud service providers are AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. They all allow you to only upscale when the need arises, which helps save costs. It also gets rid of dedicated idle resources when there is less traffic.

Ben Jaimen

CEO and Founder at ZigZag

It always starts with a vision. You have to have a vision! But like with any other (successful) business, there is so much more required: A strong team, commitment, hard work … just to name a few. More than anything, however, I feel you have to have appreciation. For yourself, your team, your customers, your successes, your failures (they help you to learn), in short: your process. Appreciation is the key!

So What Is The Typical Cost To Build A Social Media App?

Well to be able to draw a conclusion, we divide apps into 3 major categories- Simple App, mid-level complex and highly complex app.

  • A Simple App:

Simple applications include standard functionalities. The development processes don’t need to integrate to many third-party APIs, also a back-end infrastructure is not required here. To develop a simple app, a developer needs standard UI components, simple filters, a feed list, and map markers. A simple app may take less than 500 hours of work and maybe budgeted in the range of 15K-30K USD. Anything less than that would mean too few features and that in turn means no real usefulness for the app.

  • A Mid-level Complexity App:

A mid-complexity app needs custom UI features, payment functionality, real-time chat, integration with APIs, tablet and handset adaptation, and a simple backend server. It takes nearly 1000 to 3000 hours to build such a mobile app, and the pricing starts at $30,000.

  • A Highly Complex App:

Highly complex applications come with advanced functionality like audio/video processing, custom animations, real-time synchronization, complex back-ends with several types of database relationships, integrations with third-party services, and many more. The estimated time frame for developing complex mobile applications is 3000+ man-hours, and the approx price starts at $80,000

Here is a table depicting a breakdown of costs. The costs below are for an offshore team as costs do vary by geography.

Parameter Simple Semi-complex Complex
Development $38,000+ $80,000+ $155,000+
UI/UX Design $5,000+ $6,750+ $18,500+
Quality Assurance $9,650+ $15,750+ $15,000+
Project Management $10,000+ $13,750+ $10,000+
Total $62,650+ $116,250+ $198,500+

According to a survey, it can take nearly 18 months to develop a top-rated mobile app, with backend and front-end development processes. Of course, there may be releases in between but that is the time it really takes to start seeing an ROI on your efforts.

Mobile App development costs vary a lot. A top app can be profitable for your business and bring enough value to the table. But it is also essential to plan well and choose the right partner. Always do your research before taking the plunge into an investment!

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EndNote

In today’s world, social media has become a means for billions of people to get information about the world. Something that started as a way to connect has become something much more significant today. As a result, social media plays a very prominent role in contemporary society. With such an enormous user base, it is also one of the biggest markets. In case you were thinking of entering this market, there is no better time to do so. Remember to put great emphasis on both frontend and backend development. Right from the start of the process, you must take steps to ensure that your app is scalable. If you want your app to be successful, you must prepare for that success in the right way.

Content Team

This blog is from Mindbowser‘s content team – a group of individuals coming together to create pieces that you may like. If you have feedback, please drop us a message on contact@mindbowser.com
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