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How to Create a Social Media App

09.11.2020 Daria Mickiewicz
How to Create a Social Media App

In 2020, over 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide, a number projected to increase to almost 4.41 billion in 2025. This means that over a third of the world’s population is using some form of social media. Social media is a commonplace platform for communication today, have you ever considered how to create own social media app?

Building your first social media app can be a challenging experience. To get you started, we’ve compiled this introductory guide.

Number of social network users

Number of social network users worldwide from 2017 to 2025(in billions)

Social media app features

We compiled a list of seven must-have features to keep in mind when you develop your own custom social networking app.

Connection with existing social media

Using existing login information from a social network provider like Facebook, Twitter, or Google, the user can sign in to your app instead of creating a new account. This simplifies registrations and logins for end users.

Opportunities for self-expression

Users look for features that help them to edit the design and styling of the public profile. The app should include some tools and features like customization of profile pictures, cover photo, nicknames, etc.


Users love to connect with their friends and see what they are up to. Social media app developers should create features to allow finding and inviting friends with one click. Also, it should intelligently suggest them based on their shared connectivity as Facebook or Twitter do.

Arranging the newsfeed

Newsfeed involves different types of updates, content delivery network, ways to interact with the content, means to report inappropriate postings etc.

The content can be shown in chronological order. Or you can use complex algorithms to customize the feed and arrange the news based on its importance to a specific user. Some apps also offer personalized content suggestions, using machine learning algorithms to determine your preferences and interests.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are arranging their newsfeeds from the most to the least important.

Interaction with other services

To develop a full-featured app that does so much more than just messaging, it is necessary to integrate with third-party services. The users don’t have to switch between apps if your app will be more akin to a blend of messaging, social gaming, and social media. You can include the following services:

  • Relationship networks like Facebook, LinkedIn or Tinder.
  • Media sharing networks such as Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, Vine or Snapchat.
  • Online reviews. For example, Yelp or Urbanspoon.
  • Discussion forums like Quora, Reddit, and Digg.
  • Social publishing platforms as Twitter, Medium, and Tumblr.
  • Bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Pinterest, and Flipboard.
  • Interest-based networks. Integrate the for music fans, or Goodreads for book lovers.

Private communication

Most users will rather not let anyone know about their interaction. For those reasons, we advise you to include in the social networking apps built-in services for secure private communication.

We also broke down how to build an app like WeChat in another post!

Advanced Features to Create a Social Network App

AR filters

To make social media apps more engaging, you can integrate various filters and effects to the photo or video. For example, Instagram and Snapchat have a bunch of custom AR filters.


To achieve additional advantages, you should allow users to edit their pictures in a social media app. For example, you can offer such options as crop and rotate images, remove unnecessary objects, create a collage, and more.

Location-based content

This feature allows the app to analyze the user location and shows content posted by other users with the same location. Also, users can add their whereabouts to the photo or video.

So you have an idea and understand the essential features of the app. Let’s move to the direct creation of the application.

We highly recommend you to start with the MVP or minimum viable product. MVP is a product with enough features to satisfy the initial customers and provide feedback for future development. A minimum viable product approach helps to announce the product rapidly, and save time and money. Once validation is finished, you can finalize the product.

minimum viable product

How to create a social media app


At this stage, you have to define the requirements and the final outcome you want. Also, determine the target audience and what will attract them to use your app. It’s important to know the need of your users to find a special niche while developing a social media app for mobile.


A clickable prototype is a working model of a future application which provides a better understanding of the product. It is much easier to edit an idea and bring changes to it before the development process is started.


  • By sketching, you are setting the ground for your future interface and visually conceptualize the main features, the layout, and structure of your application.
  • Wireframing is the process of creating a mockup of your product. You can find a number of wireframing tools online. The most popular ones are Balsamiq, Moqups, and HotGloo, which allows you to not only drag and drop all your graphic elements but also add button functionality.
  • A prototype is mid- to a high-fidelity representation of the final user interface. The goal of a prototype is to simulate the interaction between the user and the interface. Whenever a button is clicked, the appropriate action must occur, mimicking the experience of a full product.


There are two sides to development: the client side (front-end) and the server side (backed).

Front-end involves everything users see on their screens. For Android development, the application needs to be written in Java, while iOS requires Swift or Objective-C. This immediately calls for creating two very different app versions, one for each platform.

If you choose the cross-platform approach, we recommend to use frameworks for cross-platform development. For example, React Native.

Now your app has been defined pretty clearly, and it is time to get started on the back-end of your system. You have to set up servers, databases, APIs, and storage solutions.

Let’s mention some popular programming languages and their major frameworks:

  • PHP. PHP is used for the development of 78% of all websites on the market. This programming language is dynamically typed. One component can perform differently depending on the context. So, this process PHP software is lower in speed and complex to scale.
  • Java. Java is suitable almost for any type of software development. It is often used for the development of social media.
  • Ruby. Ruby is a programming language with open-source code that can be changed. It has a wide range of ready-made instruments that give the ability to perform basic tasks. Ruby is a kind of laconic and doesn’t need vast code for the back-end. This option helps to build and launch prototypes.
  • Python. Python programming language is mostly used for web development and the building of desktop applications. It is a dynamically typed programming language with open-source code. Python has a syntax that is easy to comprehend and use.
  • JavaScript. JavaScript is a flexible programming language that can be used for both front-end and back-end. It has a wide range of different frameworks for the development of any type of solution. However, it is harder to scale, support, and has a low speed.

Your application needs a place to store its data, and that’s what a database is used for. There are two types of databases: relational such as SQLite, MySQL, PostgreSQL, or NoSQL and non-relational like MongoDB.

All back-end tech stacks include the following main parts:

  • Operating system
  • Web server
  • Database
  • Programming language

But, we should note that when choosing the right back-end technology, you do not always need to select each component separately. There are already several back-end stacks where the components have proved to form the most optimal development environment. Let’s see the most popular technology stack examples that web developers use:

  • LAMP stands for Linux (operating system), Apache (web server), MySQL (database), PHP (programming language). LAMP is considered the most popular back-end stack and is appreciated for its scalability, security, and high customization options.
  • MEAN is an acronym of MongoDB (database), Express.js (application framework), AngularJS (front-end framework), Node.js (runtime environment). The MEAN stack is known for its high performance and flexibility, as well as a smooth learning curve since it uses the same language across all components.
  • MERN includes MongoDB, Express, React/Redux, and Node.js. This combination is reasonably called the most-used stack for building high-end single-page applications. MERN also offers a short learning curve, high productivity, and enhanced agility.

Switch for a moment from reading to video, and check some great suggestions of how to build apps by Alexey Grakov.

Quality Assurance

Run testing at every stage of the development process. By testing, you will not only check any errors in the code but test the UX of the project.

The alpha-testing (developers + testing team) includes the following steps:

  • Functional testing
  • Integration testing
  • Unit testing
  • Bug fixing

You can also run beta-testing (by actual users). Use beta-testing platforms, for example, Reddit allows one to invite users to beta-test a new application.


After previous stages are done, you have to publish a complete product on App Store and Google Play.

These marketplaces have very different policies when it comes to publishing a new app. Android does not review newly submitted apps right away. They’ll pass by at some point and check it out, but you are able to instantly add your app to Google Play.

IOS is different here. Apple reserves the right to review and approve your app before it can go live. There is no set timeframe for this, but you can expect at least a week before you hear back from them.

Read also How To Create a Dating App? Tips from Dating App Developers

Quantitative metrics for social media application

To analyze a social media app, you can use the metrics that track engagement and help to make the right decision. Following are some essential ones:

  • Acquisition: CPI & CAC. CPI (Cost Per Install) is calculated by tracking installs of users that came from advertising. The formula for calculating Cost-per-install is quite simple: Your total ad spends divided by the number of installs.

CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) is the cost associated in convincing a customer to buy a product/service. This cost is incurred by the organization to convince a potential customer.

Customer Acquisition Cost

  • User activation. A number of users in comparison to a number of downloads. Its actions are customized for each app.
  • User Retention and Churn rate. Customer retention is a measure of how many of your customers are loyal to your brand and return for another visit. Customer retention only deals with existing customers, with no consideration for new customers. Churn sometimes shows how many customers don’t return to your app. Customer churn takes into account new customers in its calculation.
  • User engagement. User engagement is a number of target actions taken in the app.
  • Traction. Traction shows patterns of the month-to-month growth of users.
  • Burn rate. The burn rate is the pace at which you are spending down your cash reserves. It allows you to measure how fast you are going through your balance.

If you want to receive a full tech stack for an app, please do not hesitate to contact us at Now let’s take a closer look at monetization and development cost.

How to monetize your social media app?

Building apps is a business, and you need to earn money to keep going. But, with a number of options available for monetization, what tactic should you adopt?

The following video explains how to monetize your app.

How Much Does It Cost to Make a Social Network App?

The costs of building social media app can range from $25k to $250k, depending on features you want to add. The more features and the more robust infrastructure you plan to implement — the higher the development costs will be.

Here are some approximate development cost estimates of the most popular social apps:

    • Facebook: $420k — $465k
    • Instagram-like product: $100k — $300k
    • WhatsApp: $120k
    • Pinterest: $120k
    • Vine: $125k-$175k
    • Clubhouse: about $33k for a basic app
    • Dating app like Tinder: $50k–$150k+
    • App Like Tik Tok: $65k – $115k
    • Zoom-like MVP: $120k to $260k
    • Twitch app: $250k–350k

Note, MVPs will cost you at least half of that.

Now you know the basic steps of social media app development.

Want to make an app for social media or integrate social features, but don’t want to spend time on and programming? VironIT services can be very useful. Our team has vast expertise in iOS, Android, and web applications development and chatbots launching.  If you want more information, please contact us.

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