Does it make sense to build a new social network? There were hundreds of attempts to create own social network like Facebook and Twitter but how many succeeded in winning interested users?
Despite this, there’s a chance that your idea will prove its value if there’s a need for what you are offering. Take a look at the social media for wine lovers or at the professional community of doctors. They do not hit billion of users, like Facebook do, however, they found the audience and matched their needs.
With that in mind, the answer to the first question is yes. Plan small and do the extensive research to gather demographics and psychological data that will help you to identify the existing need for a social network or to trigger a new one.
In this article, we won’t stop at the marketing research for your business idea; instead, we’ll elaborate on the structure and technical implementation of a social network.
Define the features and functions
The choice of the features and functions is strongly connected with your target audience and the goals they want to reach as well as the actions you want them to do. Define the patterns of user’s behavior, find touchpoints with your platform and offer a function for each of them:
- Write and respond to peers – messaging system
- Share ideas – news feed/communities
- Post photos and videos – media support
- Provide feedback – comments
- Get appraisal – likes or shares
- Trade favors – marketplace
- Compare their success with others – rating system
- Search or invite friends – social media integration
- Keep updated – notifications
- Get support – FAQ/Live chat
- Feel secure – privacy settings and strong authentication
The list may be continued eternally and depends on the specifics of the community; creating customer journey maps will help you to determine how a user may explore your website. You’ll be surprised how many features will emerge on the way of mapping your potential customers. However, defining the types of data, behaviors and flows is only the beginning. The next step is to decide, whether you’ll create a social network website on top of the existing platform or develop it from scratch.
Select a platform
The best way to create a social network free is using the open-source software and customizing it to your needs. Why is it worthy? It doesn’t require in-depth coding knowledge and allows for tailoring it with pre-set tools and plug-ins. The market offers a lot of platforms which makes it easier for customers to select something that fits exactly to their needs without hiring the development team to code from scratch.
While there a lot options on the market, we’ll check on just a few popular of them:
Humhub is the open source software written on the Yii PHP framework which can be customized with plug-ins, modules and integrated with third-party applications. The platform can be employed for private networks with a few users as well for professional use with the paid enterprise edition.
Price: a free plan is limited to 3 users and 500 MB of storage. For more users, larger storage and individual domain, be ready to pay from 9 to 99 euro per month. Additional modules may also cost you extra money, though most stuff on the marketplace is free.