We all know that social media apps have, well, changed everything. From the way we interact, of course, to the way we learn about the world, donate to important causes, and even the way we think about minor activities (looking at you, “phone eats first”-ers.) Social media has touched it all. So when it comes to new apps, you might ask the question: “Well, how do I create a social media app that drives impact?”
That’s a great question—and one that many innovators are asking themselves. So, where should you begin with social media app development?
Well—here’s a Goji Blog devoted to answering just that.
Now, let’s dive in.
What is a Social Media App?
To create a social media app, we should first outline what actually defines social media.
Social media apps are those that connect people in a myriad of ways. For example, you can interact with people through chat, forums, and boards with them.
Alternatively, you can curate your content into public profiles. Or, you can arrange different group actions around shared interests, social movements, or common beliefs and values. And so, it’s no wonder that, on average, people worldwide spend almost 2.5 hours a day on social media.
Some common examples of social media apps are:
- Social Networking (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
- Forums (Reddit, Quora)
- Media Sharing (Instagram, Youtube, Tik Tok)
- Blogging (Medium, BlogSpot)
- Consumer Reviews (Yelp, TripAdvisor)
- Relationships (Tinder, Bumble)
- Content Curation (Pinterest, Flipboard)
However, many apps also have social aspects to them. For instance, even fitness, productivity, or language learning apps offer ways to connect with friends.
Since most humans are primarily social, we like to bond with others over things we do. Social connection and learning from or competing with others motivate us. And so many apps incorporate social elements even if they’re not strictly social media apps.
How to Create a Social Media App
1. Identify Your Target Market
First step to create a social media app? Know your target audience.
Once you have your app idea, it’s time to consider its benefits and which types of people would most enjoy them. First, you’ll want to list each of your features and how they help the user, and then list which people need those benefits.
From there, you’ll group and segment those people into user personas and find out their demographics (or characteristics.) With that information, you’ll begin honing their tendencies in terms of behaviors, needs, and likes.
It’s important to (in)validate any assumptions you’re making—and even those you don’t think you’re making—about your target audience with robust quantitative and qualitative research.
2. Conduct Thorough Primary and Secondary Research
In the step before, we mapped out the framework you should use to approach your research. And now, it’s time to do the research to find out whether there is a potential product-market fit for your social media app.
So, market validation is essential to see if there is a need for your app or whether the need you think there is doesn’t exist—or whether the market is already saturated.
Additionally, you should run a competitive analysis to see how others in the space are addressing that need. How are they doing things, and are they doing it well or poorly? Again, there is a lot to be learned from those already in the market.
And this is also the time to do both primary and secondary research.
Primary research is a way to give yourself a competitive edge by aggregating data that others might not have. Ergo, it encompasses surveys, questionnaires, and interviews with target personas to see how the app addresses their needs.
On the other hand, secondary research is aggregating data that’s already out there. It’s helpful because it broadens the coverage of the data you’ll be able to use. And therefore, it encompasses competitive analysis, as well as information that’s already out there.
3. Narrow Down Your Value Proposition
Once you have the data you need and have thoroughly (in)validated your user and market assumptions with robust data, you can narrow down your value proposition.
What are the core benefits and selling points of your social media app? What features or characteristics make it stand out from the rest? This is your value proposition.
With this in mind, you’ll be able to hone your core feature list: which capabilities you need to offer to meet user demand and retain them.
For initial MVP development, it’s essential to separate your “wants” and your “needs” in terms of functionality. But more on that later (however, if you need some inspiration—check out our blog on essential social media app features.)
4. Plan Out Monetization
The next step to create a social media app is honing your business model and go-to-market strategy. There are a few different types to consider, but the most common are:
- Freemium – which means allowing users to sign up and the app for free, with limited capabilities, and offering a premium version with all of the features.
- Ad Model – which means offering the app for free but relying on advertisers for revenue. This strategy is based on rapid user acquisition and retention and using user data to target them with relevant ads.
5. Create a Social Media App Design with Users in Mind
Now that you’ve established your business model and narrowed down your value proposition, you can begin the process actually to create a social media app.
Design encompasses creating a seamless user experience (UX) and a beautiful user interface (UI.) Therefore, clever and relatable use of colors, typography, visual elements, information hierarchy, and architecture is essential for designing in a user-intuitive way.
There’s also the critical aspect of onboarding: the user’s introduction to using your app. Social media app onboarding is crucial for increasing retention, engagement, stickiness, and virality. This is because users need to know the full benefits your app gives them, so they need to be oriented in it from the get-go.
6. Build Your Social Media App MVP + Iterate with Usability Testing
Last on the list of how to create a social media app (before launch and marketing) is building your MVP. Your MVP (minimum viable product) is a beautiful but bare-bones version of your app in terms of capabilities.
It’ll only have the most essential features necessary to give your users the core benefits of your app (remember that “wants and needs” list from before?)
And, just because it’s a distilled version does not mean it’s not useful to users. In fact, it must be. Because with your MVP, you’ll be able to collect actual behavior and usage data that will inform what adjustments you need to make to the app before launch.
For example, if you find that you’re experiencing a drop-off in usage during onboarding–you’ll know where things went wrong. Or, if you see that users aren’t finding or using a specific feature, you’ll be able to investigate and see whether it’s because they’re not finding it or not finding it helpful.
The data you’ll get from your MVP, along with usability testing, will reveal to you what you need to change before putting the real deal app on the market. And with it, you’ll know where to invest (or not invest) additional resources.
Well, this was a lot. We know.
Coincidentally, hi, we’re Goji Labs—a product and software development consultancy with experience in designing, “rescuing,” and deploying hundreds of products.
Have any general questions about who we are and our authority on the subject?
– Goji Labs