Back to the Roots

The first social media website recognized publicly is Six Degrees. It emerged in 1997 and gave the users an opportunity to create profiles and friend other users. Two years later, the first blogging services got popular, introducing a social media sensation that is booming in the Internet to the present day.

And Look How Well that Turned Out

Even though social media started with websites, nowadays it is impossible to imagine them without an iPhone or an Android mobile phone. Social networking apps became an integral part of our daily routine, to the extent where most people check their smartphones first thing in the morning to see what’s new in the world, keep up with what happened overnight and let their community know they are back again. Every time a new viral social networking service is released, it changes people’s perception of communication and interaction completely, bringing up new cultural behavior of the community and altering society values in some ways. 

As for now, the most popular applications for socializing are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Tumblr. All of them deal successfully with the primary task of every social network - connecting people. Each one of these apps tries hard to adhere to the latest tendencies to satisfy the demands of widely different people and keep them equally engaged in the application. Development teams are constantly working on updates, doing  their best to bring the ultimate value to the customers and to fight numerous competitors. Each of the big players has their ear open for the young blood and take up the ideas that are bound to succeed on the fly. You must have heard about giants buying smaller competitors (like Facebook buying Instagram, WhatsApp, MQDRD), or applications duplicating the features of other popular ones (like Instagram implementing features, almost identical to those of Snapchat) and many other stories of passions that run high in the social media app world. Why? Because it’s a fantastically powerful and flourishing business. 

With an Eye Toward the Future

New ambitious startups spring up like mushrooms overnight and work hard to get their place in the sun and elbow out the current leaders. Who knows, maybe you will be the person to change the whole concept of social media networking and its perception. One thing is sure: your idea should be unique and offer potential users value which they have never received before via usual communication channels. In case you were just thinking about creating a revolutionary social media app, let’s discuss what it takes to build one, both from financial and effortful perspective. 

When you hear the words “social media app”, Facebook probably comes to your mind first. In fact, all of the applications that enable social networking belong to this category. Such services let users create their profiles, find people they already know, meet someone new, share their content and view the updates of other users, communicate and express their preferences by liking, disliking, commenting, reposting and so on. Most of the top apps of this kind are universal and can be utilized by any user regardless of their age (however, most apps require that the user is 13+), location and social status. Some networks aim at a certain customer segment, let’s say at college students (erodr, Yik Yak) or people who seek career opportunities (LinkedIn, Xing) for example. Whatever you would like to concentrate on and aim for with your social media application, it needs to have some core features that will remain the same in any case.

The Main Ingredients

App Ingredients
App Ingredients

Let’s take a closer look at the must-have functionality you need to implement when building a social network application. The features we’ll further discuss are taken from the best examples of the existing social media apps that are there in the market. 

Thus said, social network app development should lead to the creation of the product with the following main features:

  • Registration
  • User profile
  • Messaging
  • Posting media content
  • Feed
  • Search
  • Commenting
  • Groups of interest

Those are the features the first version of your product should have. Let’s discuss how to make a social media app with MVP functionality.

So, let’s start with registration. A user should be able to create a new account, sign in into the existing one via an email, phone number or social networks. For the MVP version, social network is the least time-consuming option. Another question is whether you would like the idea of including a third-party social network in yours. Perhaps it’s good to develop a Facebook login for a niche application, but it’s definitely not a great plan to implement it in an app that has the ambitions to beat Facebook.

The basic things one should be able to do in their user profile is add, edit and remove personal data like profile image, manage personal information and preferences. 

Messaging section of an MVP can be as simple as text-only chats. Over time, if you prove your concept and your app gains popularity, you can ask the developers working on your project to implement adding multimedia content to conversations. 

Posting media content is one of the main features of a social media app. On Instagram, people post over 80 million pictures daily, as the official statistical information says. On Facebook, users share 300 million photos per day (according to Zephoria.com). On Snapchat, every day there are more than 10 billion video views. This is information that wouldn’t let you underestimate the multimedia content potential in your future app. 

Feed is what users see every time they check their app. Here they should be able to post an update, comment and like/dislike the updates of others. Social media app developers and designers have to make sure the feed looks good and well-aligned on every device no matter what content is uploaded. Squaring every image and video is the solution Instagram came with. On Facebook, you upload anything you want and it is aligned within the limits of a rectangle or square automatically. The main idea here is to set a look that will distinguish your app among the competitors and will be well received by the customers. 

Search section should give the users an opportunity to look up other people by name, location, age, contact details, interests and so on. Here developers will need to work on numerous filters. In the first version of your product, the search mechanics can be simple, but you will have to facilitate it later to be able to satisfy the demands of the most sophisticated customers. 

Commenting is important for social networks, that’s why this section has to be thought-through. Implement tagging, replies and attaching multimedia content to the comments. 

People enjoy finding like-minded fellows, like cat-lovers, nature enthusiasts, creative thinkers or user with other common goals/beliefs/preferences. For this reason, groups of interest are a significant part of a social media app. If you don’t feel like implementing them, you can come up with another way to connect people - by region, school, age and many other options. 

So, How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Social Media App?

When speaking about social media app development cost, it’s fair to say that there is no fixed price for such an application. The expenses will vary greatly depending on the company you hire, complexity and variety of functionality you decide to implement in your product, as well as on the comprehensiveness of the design that you want to create. From our experience, we can tell you that an MVP (the basic product) of a social media app takes about 3-6 months. In case the project is simple, the basic app version can be ready in a month, but there are also projects that can take more than half a year for building the first version. 

At MLSDev we know how to make a social media app and what it takes to create it, because we actually made one. Our own product - erodr - is an exclusive app for college students, and it is developed from scratch by our team.

Erodr Logo
Erodr Logo

Erodr features and service are designed to make it easier for people who are relevant to each other by proximity or affiliation to the same school -but who may not be introduced yet - to communicate and interact with each other, which can leads to real-life connection. Soon we will release the new version of it, that will have up-to-date design, diversity of functions and a user-friendly interface. Stay tuned to hear more about erodr in the nearest time!
 
In the case of erodr, the firts version could not boast of the abundance of functions, but it was a fully functional MVP that served as a proof of concept and showed that the product was worth developing and improving. Below you can see the time estimate for the production of erodr MVP.

Time Estimate
Time Estimate

Let’s estimate how much an MVP of a social media application, similar to erodr, would cost you. You would have to spend different amounts of money, depending on the team and its location. For example, an average hourly rate in Ukraine is $35/hour, whereas in the USA it is $100. The table below shows the approximate estimate of the MVP development cost at both rates:  

Cost Estimate
Cost Estimate

Afterword

Social media application development is rather a broad theme in the app world. Many companies try to beat the existing leaders in this category, but few of them reached success so far. Still, there are examples of apps which started as ambitious startups no one had heard of and then rocked the market, changing the world and bringing new value to customers.

The only piece of advice we can give you is not to try to copy someone else’s road to success. Users won’t need another clone. If you want to create a social networking application, your mission should be to discover and implement forward-looking solutions that will be valuable.

Cross-platform app development is not a good idea, since it has a lot of disadvantages. It’s better to create a product for one platform, let’s say, for iOS, and if everything goes well, build an Android version of the application later. Making a custom cutting-edge design can help to popularize your app too, because for business world a good dress is a card of invitation as well as for any other sphere. 

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