How To Make Social Networking Website Like Facebook
Facemash was launched in October, 2003 by a Harvard college student Mark Zuckerberg, along with a few friends. While it did not last long, Zuckerberg learned an important thing. Students couldn’t resist going to the site, surfing around and connecting with one another. That understanding led ultimately to Facebook as we know it today.
Facebook is the giant of all giants in the social networking world, closely followed by sites like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat and Myspace back in the early days. But this does not mean that other smaller social networks are not both popular and profitable. They are, and new websites are being launched every day.
Some will survive and thrive – some will not. If you want to make a custom social networking site like Facebook, your first step is to take an organized approach. Here is a plan that will get you started right.
Table of Contents
How to Make a Social Networking Website Like Facebook in 7 Steps
In this guide we’ll break down the answers to the following common questions:
- How to create a website like Facebook?
- How to create a social network from scratch and monetize it?
- How to start a social network like Facebook and not to fail?
Sounds curious? Read on!
Step 1: Develop a Concept Based Upon Value to Users
This will be the most critical piece of your entire journey to start a social network, and you need to think long and hard about your concept. What is the demographic to which you are appealing, and what will be the appeal that will attract them? You have a few options here:
- You can decide to begin small with the understanding that you can always expand your base. Two American siblings in high school in 2004 decided to start a social network for their own high school, based upon information in the yearbook. It became hugely popular, and they then expanded. Today that site has expanded internationally and is published in 5 languages.
- You can decide to go for a large demographic and a more general focus in the beginning and thus have a larger base to market to from the beginning. Twitter is an example of this strategy and it has been hugely successful.
One point to consider here. If you go after a general purpose focus and a very large demographic, you will be competing with the giants, and there are and used to be giants in many countries (e.g., Bebo in the UK, Hi5 in China, and Orkut in Brazil). Unless you have some uniqueness, growth will be much tougher.
Another point to consider is this: Are there other social networks already out there that claim the same niche that you want? You will need to do some research on the competition, just as you would when starting any business. Your own social network is not just for fun and games – it is for profit.
Step 2: Social Network Development – Initial Considerations
- Clear Conveyance of Audience and Purpose to Your Developers
If you have refined your purpose and your audience profile correctly, you have a clear picture of the “what, who, and why.” This is what you will have to convey clearly to the developers who will be working on your site.
- The Money
Development will next be all about the money, which can easily run as high as $300,000 for a site similar to Instagram and up to $500.000 to make a social media website of the Facebook size.
If you are looking for a smaller niche audience, however, you will be looking at less complex features, and you can whittle that cost down to somewhere between $25,000 – $125,000. Just be realistic with how much does it cost to develop social networking site.
- The Platform
The next decision is that of platform. Are you going for a website or a mobile app? Both of these platforms are highly successful today, and, actually, Instagram began as a mobile app and then scaled.
If you go for a mobile app, then do you want iPhone, Android or both? If your audience is in North America, Western Europe and Oceania, the iPhone is your choice. The rest of the world prefers Android. Again, you can choose a platform for your MVP based upon initial target audience and scale later.
- Traffic Estimation
This is a tough one. While you may have dreams of being the “high roller” in your niche, focus on the next one-two years. How many users can you reasonably expect within that time period?
If you’ve done some good market research, you should be able to give a rough estimate to your developers. This will determine your database and your cost. Here are the options:
- You can begin with something like MySQL or PostgreSQL for your structured data.
- You can begin with a NoSQL database, such as MongoDB if you want quick, high-load that will support high traffic surges, if you think that will happen soon.
You have to think about whether you want an MVP product that can scale later (less expensive) or the high-load for huge traffic (more expensive, obviously). This you need to discuss with your social networking web development team. What you don’t want is a database built cheaply that can’t scale.
Step 3: Social Networking Website Development 2.0. – The Features/UX Design
At a minimum, a social network site should include the following elements:
- Multiple methods to connect
- Interactive news/content feed/messaging/content sharing
- Search functions
- Some unique features that are cool and that make your site more appealing – this one’s on you to devise. But you might want something like anonymous messaging or photo filters.
- Database encryption (pretty costly)
- Admin panel – talk with your developers about analytics and other functions you might want – this can have an expensive pricing too
- Billing – may or may not need be needed
And here’s where UX design is most critical. Your site has to be easy to use and provide an enjoyable experience. A good development team will keep this in mind as all features are designed, so that layouts, architecture, and overall design standards are consistent and logical. They are built into the wireframing process and/or into each feature.
Be aware that some developers will charge for UX and UI on a per-screen basis or provide an overall cost for wireframing, architecture, and visual design.
To create a social network website, which delights the user, you’ll need to heavily invest into decent app architecture and run by numerous user stories.
Step 4: Development 3.0 – The Team
Every feature requires back- and front-end coding and real pros. An online social networking site will usually involve the following team members:
- Senior/Middle UX developer
- Senior/Middle UI designer
- Junior UI to provide assistance and redundancy
- 2 Senior/Middle Front-End developers
- Senior and Middle Back-end developers to code all the functionality
- DevOps to establish building, testing and releasing environment
- 2 QA’s to ensure high quality and fluent workflow
- Project Manager to oversee whole project
Now you are at the crossroads: Do you hire all of this in-house or do you contract with a site development firm? Here are the numbers:
- Look at the average annual salary (+ benefits) of developers. If you don’t know, check Payscale. Add additional cost for screening, interviews and initial onboarding. Depending on your locale, you could be talking over $250,000 a year.
- Compare that cost with a total project cost quote from a professional and reputable development firm like Romexsoft.
Really, there is just “no contest” here. Outsourcing is far cheaper, so long as you have a firm that is responsive, professional, has a great reputation, and keeps you in the loop all along the way. And you want to look for a firm that will provide continued support for maintenance and scaling – this is critical.
Step 5: Marketing/Promoting Your Site
This will be the place where the “rubber meets the road.” There is a line in an old movie that says, “If you build it, they will come.” Anyone involved in Internet marketing and promotion will tell you this is completely wrong.
A social networking site must be promoted and marketed just like any other business, and, again, you have options:
- If your new venture is all that you are doing right now, you may be able to develop marketing expertise. Certainly, there are tutorials and tools that will help you.
- SEO is just as important for a social networking site as it is for an e-commerce site. If you are not comfortable with, then find someone you can trust who is. The more exposure you get, the more attention you will get from potential advertisers.
- Take the lead from LinkedIn. Every time you get a new member, make sure to dig deep and set the systems in place to court that member’s contacts and friends. This is the one thing that pushed WAYN into the black and resulted in the big infusion of venture capital. Rather than ask your followers to invite their friends and expect them to do this manually, have an automatic system set up that invites members of their email lists, and that shares their membership on all of their other social media accounts.
Step 6: Monetizing Your Site
You did not get into this social networking site “business” just for fun and games. You got into it because you want to make some money. You have made a huge investment, and it is time for it to pay off. How do the “big boys” do that? You know how – it’s all about paid advertising. As anyone with a popular website, app, or blog will tell you, this takes time, and you have to have the wherewithal to wait it out while your popularity increases and advertisers see value in paying to market on your site. Here are a few tips:
- Look Into Any Initial Partnership Opportunities
If your site niche is camping, what retailers might be interested in advertising? Even offering some free advertising initially will lend credibility to your site. If followers see name brand ad placements, they will get the impression that this may be a popular place to be and join.
- Go After Potential Advertisers
You cannot do this overtly at first. You can, however, develop relationships with potential advertisers by mentioning their products or services on your site, by following their content postings, adding comments with links to your site, and publishing content on your own site that demonstrates your expertise in the niche area. All of these things are done by content marketers for businesses, and you have to think of your social networking platform as a business. If you do not have the time for this, then you will need to employ a marketing/promotion specialists or use a reputable firm to provide this for you.
- Only Reputable Advertisers
Make sure that the advertisers you allow on your site are reputable and that the value and benefits they bring to your audience are authentic and genuine. Being disrupted by irrelevant advertising or, worse, being burned by an advertiser on your site is about the worst thing you can do. Every advertiser is also a reflection on you. Choose carefully.
Step 7: Site Maintenance and Scaling
If you are staffed in-house, then you have this aspect covered. If you have outsourced your development, however, you need to be certain that the firm you use offers continued maintenance and support solutions, as well as scaling, as the need arises. Again, using a firm that is well established, that has a team approach to development and maintenance, that takes initiative in making recommendations, and that is available for consultation on a moment’s notice is a critical factor in your success.
The Bottom Line – Romexsoft Has Your Answers
All of this is probably looking pretty overwhelming to you right now. But it doesn’t have to be. Romexsoft has the expertise to take you through the entire development journey and remain with you to provide continuous support, maintenance, and scaling, when the need arises.
From the initial consultation on, you will understand why Romexsoft is a leader in the development industry. We will listen; we will ask the right questions. And we will put together the perfect team of developers/designers for your project.
Will you be the next Facebook? Maybe. Can you develop and run a great social media site that is valuable to your niche market, that will grow, and that can bring in great profit?
Yes, you can. And we are ready is ready to take you there!
Written by Romexsoft on August 11, 2016