How to Build a Social Media App – Make Your Own Social Network Platform in 2024

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 Apps Comparison | MindbowserThe 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 number of 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.
Stats of Social Media Network Platforms | Mindbowser

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 apps 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 the 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.

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 | Mindbowser

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 data center. 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 Architecture | Mindbowser
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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Benefits of Creating Your Own Social Media App

Building your social media network can have numerous benefits for your business and for you as an individual. It allows you to reach and build your community and gives you the ability to interact and build relationships on your terms without worrying about the existing algorithm-hungry and low-reach Social Media Apps.

Here are 6 Benefits of Building Your Social Media Network

  • Allows you to interact and create more direct relationships with your audience
    Building and reaching out to the audience becomes easy as compared to existing Social Media Apps. Having your Social Media App is like cutting out the middleman and algorithms for better reach where you can be heard by your audience without any rules and limitations.
  • Allows you to have a rich and deeper understanding of your community
    Existing social media platforms are becoming more like advertising apps than Social Media Apps. With the issues of low reach and difficulty in building new communities, these apps can force you to spend money on advertising to reach out to the right audience instead of building your network organically. When you have your own Social Media App, you are in the driver’s seat which gives you the freedom to build and reach out to your audience on your terms. It also gives you access to valuable data about your audience who are genuinely interested in you and your community.
  • Allows you to create more innovative and creative content for your community
    Having a Social Media App allows you to share creative content and innovative ideas based on what you want your audience to see. Unlike Twitter which has a character limit, or Instagram which has a size limit on uploading photos and videos, having a personal social media network can remove these barriers and allow you to showcase your creative and innovative side without worrying about rules and limitations. Since designing and developing your own social media app gives you control over the design, look and feel of your app.
  • Selling your products and services can become easier
    Monetization of personal brands and communities on Social Media Apps is booming. People are selling their products and services on digital marketplaces like Facebook. Having a customized Social Media App allows you to monetize your brand/product/service on your terms without the rules and regulations of existing Social Media Apps. Having a customized social media app can help you to earn money on your terms.
  • Say goodbye to dying reach and hello to your audience
    Social Media Apps are filled with creators and businesses who are trying to sell or monetize these social networks. They are a constant war of attention and reach among thousands of creators and businesses. Since these apps work on algorithms that decide what to show to people, it can sometimes become overwhelming to build your own business or community.
    Having a custom social network solves this issue and helps you to reach all of your audience without worrying about the complex algorithms.
  • Allows you to have a distraction-free space
    Social media networks are bombarded with noise and distractions with people posting about random things which drags the attention of users. Having a custom Social Media App gives you the freedom to avoid these distractions and allows you to show your content to the right audience without worrying about low reach and less attention.

Making Money From a Social Media App

Monetization has become the most popular social media tool for creators, businesses, and communities. Monetizing existing Social Media Apps can be easy as compared to building your custom app which requires investment and planning but that doesn’t mean you can’t make money on your own Social Media App. 

Here are some ways that can help you to monetize your work on your custom social media network

  • Paid subscriptions
    We’ve seen numerous communities and businesses offering a paid subscription to their users in return for exclusive content. The content that these communities and businesses provide is of high quality, which persuades the user to pay for the subscription. Having a custom Social Media App allows you to do the same, having an existing community of users, you can offer high-value content to the audience who are interested in your work. For example, you can offer them valuable and exclusive content like courses, build discussion groups with expert panelists, etc.
  • Selling your brand’s products
    There are an endless number of brands that have built and enhanced their presence in front of their audience through social media. Having a personalized app can help you to do the same but with even more resources. You can either sell directly to your community members through product links or integrate an online store like Shopify in your app, which can make it easier for the users to buy from you.
  • Sponsored Content
    One of the most popular ways of monetizing is sponsored content. Once you have built a community that is engaging with your content and is interested in similar content or services, you can allow sponsored content from other businesses as well, which can help you to make more money. Just remember that the sponsored content should be in line with and match your community’s interests, otherwise, it can backfire quickly.
  • In-app purchases
    Allowing your audience to access special features or providing them with some special content or digital products is a way to monetize your Social Media App. People pay for these things, it’s just that you have to offer something valuable to them as a course, ebook, or a special feature of your app.
  • Events and activities
    You can also promote events and activities on your social media platforms. Finding out similar events based on the interests of your audience can help you to monetize these events. You can also promote other business events that are similar to your audience’s interests.

How to Build a User Base for Your Social Media App?

  • App Store Optimization (ASO)
    If you want users to download and use your app, the first step is to optimize it for app stores so it can be visible to your users. If the users can’t find your app, how they will know that your social media app even exists?
  • Leveraging your website
    You can use banners and creatives to drive users from your website to your app.
  • Content marketing
    Having an effective content marketing strategy can help a lot, as posting content like blogs, infographics, videos, images, etc related to the interests of your audience can lead to engagement which can then be turned into awareness where you can persuade the user and direct them to download your app.
  • Leverage existing social media networks
    It is a great way to market and get people to know about your new app. If you already have a good user base on any social media platform, you can leverage that and promote your app on these platforms.
  • Running ad campaigns
    Ad campaigns are the easiest way to reach out to a vast audience without building a community organically. You can promote your app on multiple platforms, segment audiences based on their interest, and target them with ads related to your app, which can lead to downloads for your custom Social Media App.
  • Leveraging influencers
    Reaching out to influencers based on your niche can help a lot which can help you to promote your app in front of the right audience.
  • Public Relations (PR)
    Leveraging bloggers and journalists is a great way to grab the attention of your audience and make them aware of your app. Just keep in mind that you reach out to the right bloggers and journalists who are related and write about things that are similar to your app.

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 and 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.

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.

ParameterSimpleSemi-complexComplex
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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Conclusion

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, and building a Social Media App, 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much Does it Cost to Build a Social Media App?

Building a social media app can be a significant investment, with costs ranging from $30,000 to $250,000. This wide range depends heavily on several factors, including the features you want to include, the user interface and user experience design, and the technology stack you choose.

Can a Single Person Create an App?

While creating an app may seem like a daunting task, it is indeed possible for a single individual to develop an app. With the right combination of determination, creativity, and technical knowledge, you can transform your app idea into a reality.

How Hard is it to Build a Social Media App?

Don’t be fooled by the ease of building a social media app – success requires more than clicks. Your app must address a real need for users, offering compelling features and an intuitive experience that keeps them coming back. This demands the expertise of the right team, from developers crafting seamless functionality to designers crafting a user-friendly interface. Remember, launching an app is just the first step; building a thriving social media platform takes dedication and a commitment to continuous improvement.

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