How to build a social media network/community website from scratch? What does this mean from business and development point of view?
I’ve compiled a list of 8 steps that you need to follow in the process:
1. Identify your community
If you don’t want to shoot in a dark and have financial losses you need to identify your community. The process of identification needs to be done in the brainstorming stage. Social network platform is created to meet certain needs of the population. Identifying preferences and dislikes of your community will help you in better understanding the psychological factors that affect them as a consumer and what you can do to get their attention. Sometimes the need for what you are offering won’t exist on the market, that’s why gathered demographics and psychographics data will give you the power to trigger and create that need.
2. Define the features and functions
The definition of the features and functions is tightly related to the quality of the identification of your community. Your community wants and needs will shape and outline the features of developing a social network website. What do you want your users to do? How will you define the privacy of the data?
The overall vision of your website is crucial. Macro scan that will break things down into categories such as user functions, administrative functions, and advertising is a must thing to do.
Defining the type of data that will circulate, what they can post, how they will register and what automation you should use is only the beginning. There are a lot of things to be considered at this phase.
3. Choose the right technology
Identifying the features and functions of your social media network will determine the platform and the company where you can create your own network. The biggest issue at this stage is the doubt about what method will be effective and efficient for your social media network. Evaluating technology is something that must be done by professionals. Hiring a consultant to help you compare technologies is a great solution. It will save you time and money.
If you choose to do it by yourself then you need to prepare list of relevant questions to ask. You can apply different CMS such as Ning, Drupal, Ruby on Rails, or .Net
The questions will allow you to see if their technology and solutions completely support your idea.
The last thing you can do is analyze existent social networking platforms and what building technologies they have used. This learning process will help you figure out various issues and opportunities for your social media network. Here’s a few other useful tips when choosing which social network is right for you.
4. A must have structure
Once the user-specific features are listed, you must prepare the growth environment. Certain general rules apply for building all web pages and are out of huge importance for your social media networking platform since you are trying to engage users in social activity and keep them longer on your site. There are three must have pillars that you need to incorporate if you want your social media network to be successful and profitable.
• Customer service – Partnering with a hosting company can change your life. They will deal with technical issues and any other issue related to your platform.
• Security – Use reliable security systems that will make your users feel like they can do everything on your social media platform without worrying about privacy intrusion and data leaks.
• Scalability – When you start building a social network from scratch you have to consider growth. Facebook was not familiar with the fact that it will grow to this extent. Mark was prepared for growth even when he wasn’t sure that he will achieve global success. Your social media platform has to be able to expand easily and quickly so it can follow the pace of your growth.
5. Design Activity Stream
What is a social network site without activity stream? Nothing. Nowadays, activity streams are the core of every social media website. Facebook introduced this feature first and since he sets the standards on the market, the concept went mainstream and affected everyone. The fascination people have with their friend’s activity is real. We want to know what they are doing, how they are feeling every moment of the day. Failing to develop quality activity stream can affect the attractiveness of your social media network. This is the focal point and the driving force behind the success of launching a social network. You can use Joomla ‘s plug ins or Drupal’s activity stream module that accomplishes this very well
For example, activity feed of Ning allows you to connect your network to Facebook, Twitter or to add RSS feed. Stay always tuned with the comments, likes and shares, which are shown in your news feed. You can make publications in the form of tweet or post, and decide what to show in your activity feed, and who can see your updates. These features let you highly customize your network.
6. Create Status Update Features
Status updates are crucial. Every social media user wants to express their feelings and thoughts freely anytime of the day. You need to design the perfect tools that will make the status updates pleasurable and easy experience. Even though Facebook popularized the activity stream, Twitter made the status update another mainstream aspect of social media sites. Status updates are incredibly addicting. People are immediately hooked. If this feature is not user-friendly and easy to use they will abandon your social media platform immediately. What can you do to design the perfect status updated tool?
It really depends on the values your social media is built. Twitter made an amazing move by limiting status updates to 140 characters. The developers were grateful for that decision. It made their work so much easier. Of course, you have to make sure to add comment adding options on the status updates. In other words, interaction with other users is everything.
There are a lot of open-source microblogging platforms you can use for developing quality status update features. Laconi.ca or Identi.ca are perfect for it. If you are using content management system like Joomla, it is easy to make a content type that has a limited number of characters.
7. Quality Viewing Data options
How to increase the engagement level and clicks on the site? You need to create multiple data viewing features that will increase the visibility of the content on your social media platform. Remember, users will see only what you allow them to see. Do you have enough data viewing options available? If the answer is no, then check the list of features you need to make available for your users:
– Popular Upcoming Stories
– Popular Stories in the last 24 hours
– Popular Stories in the last 7 days
– Popular Stories in the last 30 days
– Popular Stories in the last year
Remember when Facebook launched their timeline features? How fascinated everyone was by the fact that they can access history data so easily, with just one click. Users get excited a lot of social data.
The data viewing features must have user – centric design. It must be easy to use and accessible. Everyone has different preferences. Allowing people to access and tailor their experience is a big plus and will keep them coming back again and again to your social network platform.
8. You need to attract the right users
After everything is said and done, in terms of defining the target audience and developing the right features the next step is attracting the right users. There are a lot of tools that will help you create awareness on the market. Facebook was created in a college environment and it was a pioneer in the social media industry. What helped Mark the most is the good old word of mouth. Even though this is a traditional marketing tool is still effective. Before people start talking about your social media they need to be aware of it. Digital marketing has tools to increase awareness. It has the right set of available options that will help you reach your goals and it’s cost effective too. Here’s how to do it:
1. Email Marketing – Do you have an email database? If you don’t, you must create one. Lead generation tools are available and can help you down the line. Unbounce in their article offers the right tips and tools that can help in preparing your email base. After you created your relevant database, prepare engaging templates and use them for newsletters. Don’t worry if you are not experienced with email marketing.
2. Blogging – Create your own blog where you will discuss your new social media platform. People like to read useful information. Give them that, focus on what they like and give them the titles they are interested in. The best tactic is to contact blogging influencers and make them write a piece for your social media platform on their blog. Neil Patel applied this technique in his early struggling days and he achieved a lot in terms of traffic and engagement later. You can even monetize your writing endeavors.
3. Engage with people – When other portals mention your social media network or write news about you, you need to act immediately. Engage with them. Make a connection. Build a community. Ask them about another piece of content and reply to that story with your own blog. People appreciate engagement and care.
4. Activate paid ads – Google ads can do wonders. Activate multiple paid ads for a certain period of time. Use different wording for each ad and see what works the best. Through testing find out what gives the best result and focus all your marketing budget there.
With the numerous available resources today, creating a social media platform is easier than it was in the past. Doing a quality research is a must activity before you start with anything else. The right information can save you time and resources. There are three types of companies that have emerged in the space of white label social networking according to Techcrunch.
In their article, they review the best social media building tools and rank them based on quality. Remember to focus on the tools that will benefit your idea the most. Focus on the core values of your social media platform and build it the best you can. Success is inevitable if you plan everything the right wat. Who knows, maybe your idea will change social media forever.
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