How to build a social media website?
Sometimes it seems there is no room for new social networks in the modern market, and it’s impossible to invent a new format. The TikTok creators might have thought like this, too but took the risk and managed to create the most popular social network of the last decade. Nowadays, the success of social networks is a matter of their unique format and powerful promotion strategy. Building a website for your social network is a crucial part of such a strategy.
In this article, we will discuss why websites are a crucial component of any social media network, what features users expect to find in them, and what steps to take to build a social media website.
What are the common types of social networks?
To begin with, web resources used by famous social networks like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and others fall into the category of web applications because they have many interactive elements like features for authentication and exchanging data. But to ease up the reading we will call Facebook, TikTok, and other web resources either websites or web applications.
While social media websites display features for connection between users, they should also be created with business aspects in mind. That’s why when planning the launch of a social network, the beginning startuppers should consider the benefits their network will bring to brands and influencers. Here are a few examples of social network formats and the benefits they bring to the business that can be used as inspiration.
Traditional social networks
It is a popular type of network that comprises features for content creation and messaging. Human-to-human interaction and knowledge sharing are the main focus of these social networks. Facebook is the most striking example of such a social network.
Traditional social networks grab the attention of different layers of people, which makes them a great basis for marketing campaigns. Also, they are a powerful tool for networking that entrepreneurs can use to find partners, contractors, or employees.
Content like photos, images as well as short and long-form videos is usually the primary focus of media-sharing networks. Except for content feed and messaging, this type of app usually provides features for photo and video editing. Instagram and Snapchat are two popular examples of this type.
Media-sharing network websites are a great way to create native adverts that engage users seamlessly. They are a great marketing tool for businesses that can be easily visualized in images or videos. These can be businesses like floristics, handmade, or pastry.
Many people check review websites before booking hotels, going to restaurants, or visiting dental clinics. Review website users rate companies and services, add photos, and write posts about their experience. Yelp and Trip Advisor are the most popular review websites.
Brands and companies can gather info about their customer’s experience, improve it, and solve existing service failures. With the help of review websites, brands can respond to positive and negative reviews and improve their image.
Where the videos and images don’t fully convey all the needed meanings, blogs like Medium and Tumblr can be used. This type of social media website lets users share their expertise on complex topics like business, software development, or content creation.
Building your own corporate blog can be tiresome and expensive, that’s why community blogs become a great place to share expert content. Through community blogs, brands can express their vision, develop their voice, and share their expertise.
Discussion networks like Quora are designed to start a conversation between people of different interests. Any person is free to ask questions, make statements, and engage in experience and knowledge sharing. A hint of anonymity encourages users to be more open and real.
Within the framework of this format, brands can communicate with their audience directly and engage in conversations connected to their industry. As a result, they can build an expert image and talk to users who are willing to communicate.
If you have already chosen the format and started searching for someone who can bring your idea to reality, contact us. We will choose a suitable tech solution for it, build your social media website, and help you to launch it to the market. Check our Web development services page and find out how we approach website development.
Key reasons why social networks need a website
What a surprise! Most of the above-mentioned networks have gained a web presence at some point and engage with their users via websites. Let’s now discuss a few key reasons why the startupper who wants to embark on a new project, should consider developing a social media website.
Access to a wider audience
The bigger the number of social media users, the more revenue its owner makes. The number of global internet users now stands at 5.16 billion. The entrepreneur who builds the social media website will be able to reach both mobile and PC users as well as bring additional convenience to them — saving the storage space on their devices.
TikTok and Instagram are the most common examples of social networks that grew popular as mobile apps. After they went viral, their owners decided to get a web app as well to reach a wider audience and turned their apps into a platform that can be accessed either through a PC or mobile device.
Some social network owners don’t create a web application that fully replicates the features of the mobile app. They create a brand website for promoting a mobile app instead. This type of website helps the network owners to bring traffic to their apps. Happn is one example of such a website, as it is used to encourage users to enter the mobile app.
Web product format would be a great choice for social network MVP as it is easier to maintain than a mobile app. A development team can update websites quickly and seamlessly, which saves the resources of a social network owner. The situation with apps is different: each time you need to release an update, the team will need to verify the app in App Store or Google Play. It can take 2–3 days and prolong the maintenance process.
Most popular social media websites
We have collected a few stories of successful social networks for inspiration.
During the last quarter of 2022, the number of Facebook monthly active users reached 2.96 billion. Despite the scandals revolving around Facebook in the past few years, it still stays the top social network by the number of monthly active users according to Statista.
Facebook provides users with features for publishing text, images, and video content as well as creating stories. It also gives companies and brands a set of advertising and analytical tools, which makes Facebook an attractive place for running marketing campaigns.
The initial idea of Mark Zuckerberg was to build a social media website for Harvard students. But the idea spread to other universities and finally grew to the size of a world-known social network.
During the usual day, there are 80 million photos shared on Instagram and 3.5 billion likes. No wonder surveys show that 79% of marketers choose Instagram as a place for promoting their businesses, while 15% of online shoppers keep the track of their favorite brands on this social network.
Instagram first started as a platform for sharing photos and adding filters to them. The format was so successful that the network attracted 1 million users just after two months after launch. Now the platform provides features for creating photos, short and long videos, live streaming as well as tools for advertising. Users can access Instagram using either the app or the website.
This social media website was built by three former employees of PayPal who assumed that users need a website to share their homemade videos. Youtube soon turned into a huge video hosting and became a source for the promotion of brands and influencers. YouTube users can upload short and long videos, create channels, interact with other users in comments, and much more.
At first, the number of users on the website didn’t skyrocket, but the users started paying more attention to this social media website as it rolled out new cooperation features like address book uploads, groups, and a partnership with American Express. Now the social media website provides features for managing connections, posting jobs, grouping for niche-specific discussions, and posting company-related content.
It’s known that Twitter had 368 million monthly active users in 2022 and generated $4.4 billion in revenue from selling ads and data licensing. Although last year the revenue of this social media website dropped, it is still visited by millions of people.
Twitter was invented by a group of enthusiasts who were involved in podcasting and decided to create a website for sharing short news posts. Nowadays Twitter provides features for posting tweets, making comments, chatting, and many other activities.
|Revenue of popular social networks in 2022|
To sum up, we’d love to note that each of these social media websites once reached great success due to their unique format. But right now their owners are afraid of new formats that are being invented every day. That’s why now is the right time to come up with your social networking idea as it might become the “Facebook” of the new decade.
What are the steps to build a social media website?
We’d like to explain what steps our Ronas IT team would make to build a social media website similar to Facebook and what technical solutions we would use to make it high-performing and intuitive.
Before starting the design and development process, we would analyze the requirements of our customers and get the following data.
First, we find out what will be the format of the social media website and the monetization strategy our customer wants to implement: Will the website display paid ads or provide premium accounts?
After that, we will find out how the developed social media website will be promoted and what will be the cost of attracting users.
This information will help us understand if the development of the social media website will pay off and what features the future product will need. By the end of the discovery phase, our customers will get the project breakdown as well as the cost and time estimate required to complete the development.
Social media websites are complex products with many features. That’s why at the stage of UI/UX design, it’s important to create a system that will be easy to scale up. Here are a few principles we would comply with to make the design process quick and deliver a convenient interface.
As social media websites usually display many features, they need simple a UI with a limited number of colors and minimum graphics like illustrations, signs, and logos. In the process of UI/UX design, it’s better to make the background white or neutral and add one accent color.
In the process of building a social media website, we should consider that this software usually displays a lot of data: posts, user profiles, content responses, lists, and so on. To make all this convenient to perceive, we need to create a balance, so users don’t feel that they see too many details. To ensure this we would add infinite scroll, background loading, or splitting data into several screens.
In the process of building a social media website, we usually take into account the fact that this interface usually needs to be scaled up as the project develops. That’s why we develop UI Kits and design systems, so we can quickly assemble new screens with the help of reusable elements.
Set of states
While designing the social media website, we think through different interface states: how will the interface look if the avatar is not uploaded, if the dialog is not started, or user has restricted access to the account? Thus we give the users a complete user experience.
When building a social media website, we would implement the technologies used for Facebook development. To add, we would choose the following tech stack because these technologies are up-to-date and have a big developers community, which can make the development and further maintenance resource saving for our customer.
We would use React to create the client side of the website and a custom admin panel. It allows the implementation of all the features necessary for the social media website and the creation of a flexible interface.
We would break up the website into several microservices and choose the technology for them depending on the load and functionality. For instance, the messenger can be created with Go coding language, while the user profile with Laravel. We would also accompany each microservice with the database and choose PostgreSQL or NoSQL for them.
In case there is a need to build a mobile app for the social network, we would use React Native as it has many libraries for implementing necessary features.
Configuring the software in an IT environment is a crucial step in building a social media website after which it can be tested or presented to users. Our team works only with cloud services while working with IT infrastructure. To automate the work with them, we use Infrastructure as code approach, which means we manage the IT infrastructure through configuration files written in the form of code.
There are two advantages to using this approach. First of all, the code files are reusable, so we don’t need to create them from scratch for each new project. It helps us to save time and resources for our clients at this stage of development. Moreover, our approach helps us free our engineers from maintaining infrastructure and focus on delivering high-performing software.
We may not stop building a social media website when the first version of the product is released. Our team can keep scaling the website up at the request of our clients, fix the bugs if there are any, or enhance the interface with the help of user feedback.
How much does it cost to build a social media website?
We recommend startuppers stick to the MVP approach while building the first version of the social media website. MVP is the test version of the product with just enough features to enter the market. Such a product can be shown to the early customers and enhanced upon their feedback. This approach is usually used when the startupper needs to check the feasibility of the business idea. Here’s the list of MVP features necessary to build a social media website.
- Sign up
- Creating and editing user profile
- Putting likes, comments, and reposts
- Content feed
- Features for advertising
- Recommendation system
Any social network will need this set of features no matter if it is a website or an application. But don’t forget that all the social networks that are popular now once had a unique format. So, keep in mind that except for basic features you will need to come up with unique ones.
Based on the list of features, we prepared the price and timeline estimate for the social media website development.
|UI/UX design||3-4 weeks||$4,800 - $6,400|
|Development||12-14 weeks||$40,000 - $50,000|
|Project management||15-18 weeks, |
|$4,800 - $5,760|
The price of social media website development may vary depending on its complexity. The cost to build a social media website with Ronas IT ranges from $50,000–65,000 for an MVP.
All in all, the field of social networks is hot and highly competitive, while the number of global Internet users rises every day. In these circumstances, building your own social media website might be a great business idea, and it’s the right time to embark on this enjoyable path.