For developers, it means they should work out an easy personalization system. It may include different tools ranging from background colors and photo effects to theme settings and links to blogs and other web resources.
Despite the fact some of the leading platforms are profile-oriented, there are some exceptions. For example, YouTube avoids this rule and is generally focused on users uploading media files. Other networks like Medium let users share any type of content without creating profiles. These are so-called user-generated content social networks.
Social networking app feeds
Developers can choose from several types of feeds. They can be introduced in administrator-curated content as well as stories, photos, posts, videos and other content generated by users. Feeds are an essential part of any social networking applications that boosts users’ engagement and interaction with the app.
If a network does not let users share content, they will hardly ever return to the platform. Content generated by users can be of different types and classifications. Let’s have a closer look at some of them.
How you’re doing?
Many people want to share their plans or location with friends using social networks. They post what they are doing now, what they are eating or where they are heading. All they need is to tag the location adding it to their post. From the technical point of view, developers can use location APIs to implement this function. It will use GPS to track the location of the given device.
By the way, it is also a good way to make a profit from your app. Many social networks use the location as one of the monetization strategies. It lets developers foresee some actions and provide recommendations, discounts, bonuses and coupons. For example, you know that a particular user visits the same concert hall every Saturday. You can offer ticket reservation or something like that. However, developers are supposed to opt for some trustworthy and reliable third-parties services that are able to let users keep control over their privacy. According to the recent studies, an application can access user’s location several times a day without even getting developers know about it. Privacy always matters.
People are always eager to express themselves via social networking apps sharing photos, status updates, videos and another content displayed in the timeline. Developers are obliged to satisfy the need of self-expression. The can opt for:
- Tools to create a unique content generated by users;
- Make the content sharing process as fast and easy as possible;
- Focus on a target audience.
We have some great examples like Instagram or SoundCloud, which provide amazing photo filters and editing tools as well as easy way to share tracks and podcasts without any difficulties.
Keep in mind that copy-pasted photos, pictures or stories should also be considered as user-generated content. No matter if you share your own thoughts or other person’s opinion, you also try to express yourself. On the one hand, such type of content can boost the growth and popularity of the app. On the other hand, you need to have an already rich and formed community within the social application to catalyze the growth via user-generated content.
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We all try to look as good as we can. We do appreciate any type of rewards and praise for what we do. Developers should think about a content that will make it possible for users to earn additional statuses, five-star ratings, higher levels or badges for the content they share. Such strategy will let you increase users’ interest as well as the number of check-ins.
The idea of sharing information is to do something useful for other people. At the same time, a modern social app should be as versatile as possible letting users create content for their own needs. Spindle is a good example of such application. People here can create any type of content they want for themselves. Sharing it with friends is a matter of their own wish.
There is no big deal what type of content is deployed within the feed. Its main idea is to boost the level of interaction and engagement with the app as well as increasing the retention rate. A good app must let users interact with any type of content by means of sharing, liking, commenting, reposting, etc. Developers should never forget about push notifications to keep users in touch with the latest news and actions within the application.
Social networking app connections
Establishing new connections is vital for every social networking app user. The main idea of the platform is to let people keep in touch with each other in spite of age, interests and gender. Developers can opt for several methods to implement social app connections.
Connections based on content
Whenever you want to benefit from organic users’ growth, content is the best way to build strong connections. Every time a user shares or interacts with a content, he or she keeps in touch with another user and establishes relations. All users can be divided into several major groups in accordance with their activity within the app. They include:
- Discoverers – people who explore the content. The idea is to provide them as many feeds as possible. Developers can choose from feeds with user-generated content only or feeds that display information from across the entire platform;
- Talkatives – these guys like talking a lot. They are eager to describe their every step. You need to help them get noticed by other implementing commenting tools, likes and other features;
- Admirers – these folks seem to like everything that appears in the feed. Forming an aggressive group of users from some point of view, they also want to benefit from handy features letting them repost, like or add to favorites;
- Seekers – they never stop searching, which makes them close to discoverers. The only difference is that seekers know for sure what they need when browsing the content. Developers should provide an efficient sorting mechanism like hashtags letting them sort out necessary content.
Social networking groups
Becoming a member of a public group means entering a community featuring people with the same interests and values. Groups are a good idea whenever you need to build strong connections between users. Some apps are mainly focused on creating public groups. On the other hand, you can implement them as an additional function. They can unite people not only by their purposes and values. Groups can include corporate communities introducing users of the same company.
A social networking app should not limit its users by digital boundaries. Strong connections are possible in case of live interaction as well. The idea is to break the edge introducing some live events, sessions and activities. On the one hand, you will receive a new communication channel. On the other hand, you will benefit from strong users’ relations united by the same interests and values. Letting people connect real life is a good plus in favor of your applications.
Connection via other social networks
You are free to use all other possible connection sources. They may include already existing profiles on other popular social networks like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and more. For instance, you are free to send invitations connecting user’s Facebook friends that have already registered in your app. Moreover, Facebook makes it possible for developers to access and retrieve the list of friends. Creating a separate page for your app on Facebook inviting new friends is the best solution when establishing strong connections.
SMS and address book
Whenever you want to implement invite feature letting users send invitations via an email client, you can offer special templates or let users compose their own invitation letter.
The same principle can be implemented via SMS. Users can send the invitation to all contacts available in their address book. For example, an iOS framework provides necessary classes to cope with text messages sent via iPhones.
Search and recommendations
Traditional social networking apps introduce a typical users’ search system. All you need is to enter a full name or a username. However, this system can include some additional filters to benefit from a narrower result taking into account numerous coincidences. You can add gender, location, job and other filters to implement a fast and more efficient search. Your social app can act as an advisor recommending new friends and connections.
These are some of the most important features that should be implemented in a successful social networking app. However, developers can benefit from some additional extended functions.
Social app messaging feature
A great social app is an application that brings users back to it. The best bet is to provide all possible messaging features that may include chats, private conversations, group discussions and more. Developers can choose from a wide range of different services that make it possible to implement real-time messaging. Layer is a good example of such services letting users keep in touch with each other via live chats, voice calls and video conversations.
Backend solutions are among essential issues necessary to consider, as a social app has tons of content that calls for an efficient management.
Backend solutions and database for social networking apps
Backend development directly depends on the way you want your app to perform. Imagine that your app hosts over a million users ate the same time. It will certainly call for a specific backend infrastructure. As a rule, developers opt for traditional frameworks including Ruby on Rail or MVC PHP. Both are a good idea as they meet developer’s requirements and provide a fast and smooth application performance.
When it comes to database, developers can select from MySQL, NoSQL, SQLite, or PostgreSQL. The first and the last databases have proved to be the best bet when it comes to development of a great social networking app. Other come with some drawbacks like NoSQL that does not support one-to-many or one-to-one users’ interactions.
Expected query performance is the key factor you should note when opting for a particular database. All JSON mapping libraries that most developers know have proved to be rather slow. So, you need to choose another framework that will enable improved application performance.
Some developers wrongly consider admin panel as less important part when developing a social networking app. However, this tool is the only way to provide any type of user’s IT support in case of necessity. Imagine, that you are using a new social application and have some questions. Would you appreciate the opportunity to send questions right from the application? You certainly would. You can have an access to all tools and information provided by the user displayed in the admin panel and manage them easily as well as send answers in real time. It will also help you track online activities, payments and more.
Developers should always keep in touch with the latest statistics and in-depth analysis of their project in order to track its KPI factors. Admin panel may have a separate stat list in addition to integrated analytics. There is a selection of analytic systems provided by third-party services. Some of the most trustworthy include Google Analytics or Mixpanel. The only drawbacks are that they make it easy to monitor behavior of the entire community or public group without a single user tracking opportunities.
In spite of all obstacles and factors to consider, building your own social networking applications will hardly be a challenge for an experienced developer. For instance, it appears to be much easier and less risky if compared with developing a mobile game.