Ilya Dudkin 05/11/2018 #Popular #Tips 10 min readIf you are working on a social media project, having a mobile app is absolutely critical to success. Considering that social media app development is a growing field and there are a number of well-known players in this field, there is always room for new players to throw their hat into the ring. Even if you think that developing your own mobile app is too costly, keep in mind that the lion’s share of the expenses will be on the backend which the user will not see anyway.Let’s take a look at the development process.The “Must Haves” When Creating a Social Media AppThere are a lot of steps and factors that go into social media application development, so let’s go through the main ones.Provide login with current social media – Nowadays, users need to enter various login information into a ton of different sites, including existing social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Give them a chance to log in with an existing social media account because the fewer barriers standing in the way between the customer and your product, the better.Make them Feel One-of-a-kind – Self-expression is a big part of social and user turn to it in order to show their friends, family and co-workers how original and unique they are. This can be accomplished by offering a wide range of customization options such as profile pictures, usernames background themes etc.Build a User Base – A user will only join a social media if their friends or acquaintances are also on this media. Therefore, the next big social media app ideas should come with a thorough algorithm of friends chart and something that let’s existing users invite others with a single click.The News Feed – Almost all social media apps have a news feed because content reigns supreme. Users create a bunch of content all by themselves. This includes things like status updates, check-ins, photos, videos etc. and, more importantly, they share other people’s content as well which allows their voice to be heard and adds to self-expression. When creating your social media, be sure to set up the news feed that best suits the character of the app.Integrating With Existing Services – For the user to have the best possible experience using your platform, you must set up a system that allows integration with other services. This will eliminate the conundrum of having your users choose between your service and an existing one. When talking about third-party services, we mean:Networks for relationships, which can be segmented into professional networking such as LinkedIn, personal networks such as Facebook and dating services such as Badoo.Content sharing networks where people can share photos and videos such as YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. What distinguishes one from the other is the amount of content they let you post. For example, one will allow you to only create a short story, while another one lets you create a personal video channel.Online reviews which help users make a more informative decision when deciding to purchase a new product. These include services such as Yelp which use geolocation and allow you to leave comments and feedback about a business.Steps to Follow to Create a Social Network AppWhen building a social app for Android or other devices there are five stages in the development process:Strategy – Take a long hard look at your idea and what the competitors offer and make an analysis of the requirements. Create a definition of who your target audience is and create some KPIs that must be met. This will allow you to find your market nicheDesign – There are many parts that go into the app design, but the main one is sketching some outlines of the app, wireframing, creating a prototype and creating the app skins.QA and Development – Once your prototype is ready, now is the time to build the back-end, which means creating servers APIs, databases etc. In order to get the best performance possible out of your app, consider native app development.Keep in mind that at every stage you will need to conduct automatic and manual testing to confirm the necessary program functionality. Testing includes much more than simply checking for bugs, but also the UX design.Launching Your App – Even though your app has been released to the public, the work is not over. You must be ready to provide your users with all sorts of support for implementing updates and eliminating any glitches that pop up after launch. Also, don’t forget about the marketing strategy and for your app. Start developing such a plan even prior to launch since it will require significant resources.Concluding Thoughts on How to Make a Social Networking App WorkEven though we listed a lot of things that need to be included in the mobile app in order to attract users, but you should remember that you must also retain those users. Consider measuring factors such as churn rate which shows you how many people have stopped using your app. Also, every time you release a new update, make sure to keep an eye on the retention rate to give you an indication of whether or not the update was a success. A lot of times we feel that a certain part of an app in need of an update, but after release, we find out that users hate it. So watch the metrics and the benchmarks that you set in order to avoid such a situation. The traction rate, which shows you the monthly user growth, is a great tool in this regard.Finally, it is certainly important to stay on budget. Monitor the burn rate which is the amount of money the app is consuming in order to run. This includes things like server costs, staff, and marketing costs. This will show you which resources you will need to budget for in the future. It is important to keep in mind that customer acquisition costs (CAC) are high as is the cost per install (CPI). If you want to calculate the CPI, simply divide the advertising costs by the number of users who installed your application. The CAC is the total costs that go into attracting a single user. These metrics are important because they provide proof that you have a viable business model, which will be important for attracting investments.While it is important to collect data and metrics, it is also important to make sure that the information that you collect allows you to make actionable decisions. Be sure to apply the necessary instruments when gauging financial costs, user retention and acquisition sales and marketing costs.