How to Create a Social Media Network Site Like Facebook: The Success Story

Key Findings

  • There are nearly 4.5 billion social media users. Find out why the social media market is one of the most favorable niches to enter.

  • Explore Facebook’s business model and learn more about ways to monetize your social networking website.

  • Use our comprehensive step-by-step guide to gain an in-depth understanding of how to create your own social network like Facebook.

  • Proper rendering, improved security, performance, content size optimization, and many other aspects should be considered during back-end development. Learn about best practices shared by our Solutions Architect.

  • Learn more about Aimprosoft’s experience in developing social media websites and find out what affects estimation of costs and time needed to build a social networking site.

Is it possible to repeat the phenomenal success of Facebook and build your own social networking site? Well, nothing is impossible, as this top-tier platform was a simple experimental website that only Harvard students could access. Inspiring, right?

The human desire to socialize through the latest innovative tools is constantly evolving, which makes the field quite fruitful. So, please continue reading this article, we will explore the phenomenon of online networking and answer your question about how to create a social media website.

Some facts and statistics about social media platforms

MySpace marked a milestone in the era of social networking websites in 2004. Since then, the number of active social networking web users has reached nearly 4.5 billion people, according to summary statistics at 2021.

social media user growth
Global social media users over time. Source: Hootsuite

Another data shows that the time that 45% of the world population spends on social networks ranges from 2 to 4 hours a day, which means that the relevance of this segment is bigger than ever. In turn, the main revenue of social media channels is obtained mainly from advertising: according to Hootsuite’s report, it represents $ 50.8 billion in 2021. Such an indicator makes social networks the third channel largest advertising agency, plus TV and paid search.

The stats are amazing, aren’t they? To figure out which niche to choose when planning to start a social network, let’s consider the types of digital networks out there.

Types of Social Networking Sites

The success behind any thriving social network can be explained by the ability to satisfy the needs of its users. By following our list of the most prominent types of social media channels, you’ll see what user requirements can be turned into a business opportunity.

After this field overview, we suggest considering our take on the reasons for social media development of media platforms despite all this plethora of social networking websites.

Why do you need to create your own Facebook-like site?

What could be more compelling? than the dry statistics that show the true state of affairs? The graphics below will significantly help you answer why exactly you should build a social networking website like Facebook.

Facebook annual revenue
Facebook annual revenue and net income from 2007 to 2020. Source: Statista
Reasons to start developing a social networking platform similar to Facebook
Number of monthly active Facebook users. Source: Statista

The growing revenue and the number of users, whose number reached 2.7 billion in 2020, is surprising. The only way to get these numbers is to allow people to socialize through the website’s unique functionality, which Facebook’s web app once successfully provided.

The idea of ​​making a website out of Social networks like Facebook is quite attractive due to the following business model: users are constantly looking for new networking sites that they can trust, brands, in turn, are looking for potential consumers. You become the one who can benefit from such needs and develop a unified portal that will meet the requirements of both parties.

However, if you want to create a social network like Facebook, it is wise to identify its weaknesses. and exclude them during the development of your product. The Cambridge Analytica scandal is a good example reminding social media web app builders to constantly strengthen systems that ensure data security and privacy alike.

Once you’ve settled on the idea of ​​starting your own social network similar to Facebook, it’s the perfect time to talk about monetizing it.

How to make money on a website Social Channels

There is a strong correlation between the segment of online social channels you want to enter and the choice of monetization strategy. So, let’s dig in and see the three most effective ways to make money with social media website development.

Ad Space Rental

By choosing this strategy, you can provide your users with self-service advertising that allows you to place your ads in the form of banners in the “sidebar” of the page or let brands use special tools, similar to Facebook dynamic ads. The last one is called targeted advertising, which is quite a conscious approach in marketing, as it shows only those ads that are relevant to users.

Subscriptions/Premium Memberships

This type of monetization is best suited for publishing platforms (like Medium) or media hosting websites (like Youtube). In case you want to charge a fee for access to specific high-quality content or paid features, this strategy will suit your network perfectly.

Affiliate Marketing

It is one of the fastest ways to get a higher ROI in the short term. The core of such monetization is promoting your chosen product/brand on your social media website, allowing your users to click on the affiliate link and make a purchase. If the transaction is successful, you’ll split the sale price, which is quite an effective way in case your website has recently launched.

Now that we’ve explored the most commonly used monetization strategies, let’s take a look. look at the business model that made Facebook such a lucrative platform.

Facebook Business Model Summary

Facebook’s surprising fame is explained by its successful business approach. It works perfectly thanks to the following formula: user data + AI/ML algorithms that process this data + advertisers = a large part of Facebook’s revenue.

If you want to know how to build your own Facebook-like social network from scratch, the business model of Facebook is an essential point to take into account
Facebook’s business model. Source: Fourweekmba

With this pattern and following advertising strategies, Facebook managed to earn 93% of its total revenue for the first quarter of 2019:

  1. boosted posts and boosted posts (paid option that allows users to “boost” specific content in the newsfeed);
  2. sidebar ads (allow advertisers to customize their ads and place them in the right hand column on desktop);
  3. sponsored stories (ad option to reach online-only audience to a page – it will not be shown to other users) .

The business model of the website is also formed with the help of user payments which they do within the platform. Facebook placed a wide diversity of its products, mainly games (eg Candy Crush game, Zynga Poker), to offer users not only sponsored products but also native appeal.

Facebook’s business model it would not have been successful if the platform had not been so user-oriented. Such an approach has been working very well for 15 years and continues to evolve according to the latest trends and increasing user demands, which should be taken into account when planning to create your own social network like Facebook.

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Features that social networking website needs

When starting the development of the social networking platform, we recommend integrating not only the unique features listed below that are inherent to any social network, but also the innovative ones for stand out in your market. competitors.

Creating and editing profiles

To allow your users to take advantage of the full functionality of this feature, be sure to provide them with easy one-click login (Facebook SDK, Twitter SDK, Google login, etc.) and the ability to create and customize personal profiles with the help of a diverse set of tools. It is also convenient to integrate an option that allows you to hide certain data from other users in case such a need arises.

Publication of content

To convert your potential users into loyal ones, make sure to provide them with all the necessary and attractive tools for the creation and publication of content. One of the most popular options to add are various editorial tools for text posts, free and premium templates that users can customize to create a unique post layout, etc.

Like, comment, and share options

Like, comment and share are undoubtedly three pillars of any social networking website. The human desire to become famous is what you can turn into a profitable business model.You can offer your users to reward their content, which will attract big influencers and bloggers to your social network willing to pay for their promotion.

Business Stream

It is vital to make the UX of the activity stream, aka news feed, simple and intuitively understandable. People should be able to easily understand how to share posts, upload content, and adjust post spam in settings. Don’t forget to make your platform UGC (User Generated Content) oriented to reduce user churn.

Secure messaging via chat

The heart of most the types of social networks media networks is chat. When integrating the messaging tool during the creation of the social network, it is desirable to enable the secure exchange of data between its potential users which can surely be guaranteed by the integration of properly configured TLS/SSL protocols.

How to Create a Social Media Website Like Facebook: Crucial Steps

When the target audience is defined, the social media segment is chosen and the catchy name of the web application is created It’s time to continue. to the design and development of the current software solution. Explore those steps that are necessary to create a social network like Facebook.

This is how
Steps to make a social networking website like Facebook

Idea Feasibility Testing

Once you have a clear concept, idea feasibility testing is vital to building a successful social media platform from scratch. This is typically done as part of the Business Analysis (BA) stage, unless you choose to skip this stage, which is highly undesirable. You can do a feasibility check on an idea yourself during the BA course. However, this is a very time consuming task. Therefore, it may be wise to use the services of a business analysis company or a full-cycle development company such as Aimprosoft that has an established framework and experience in evaluating ideas and eliminating potential risks.

Market and target audience analysis

The customer is at the heart of any social media website. Therefore, in order to make compelling tactical and strategic decisions to better meet the needs of your customers and reduce additional costs in developing your software, detailed market and competitor research is required. It is usually done by a business analyst along with the feasibility check of the idea; therefore, it is very important to hire such a specialist when creating a social networking website in order to be successful.

With a clear overview of the niche you plan to enter, the needs, expectations , pains and other key aspects related to the target audience can be more accurately identified. In-depth TA analysis is the key to a thriving social network and a higher ROI accordingly. Once this exhaustive investigation has been carried out, it is convenient to proceed to the creation of a strategy for the development of your product.

Strategy and planning

The data collected in previous stages are the basis of your product strategy. To complete it, consider the following aspects:

  • design a general concept of the product with a complete set of desirable features;
  • form a vision of the potential growth of the website, in terms of revenue and audience;
  • it is advisable to plan expansion on other platforms in advance, such as Google Play or Apple Store, in case you want to create mobile applications based on Android and iOS additionally, or cover more areas regions and market segments, etc.

Based on the documentation formed, the chosen software provider develops SoW (Statement of Work) and technical specifications. At Aimprosoft, for example, we draft it carefully over 1-2 weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the project.

After this, a roadmap approach is applied. . . It helps to mark all the milestones of website development in a schematic way. It also helps to set time frames for completion of each feature and prioritize implementation tasks. The most crucial benefit of a roadmap is that it is dynamic and allows you to adjust for changes in the course of building a social networking website. It makes the work process easier for developers and saves time in terms of project creation.

Design Process

It is desirable to go for a holistic approach to network platform design social. first creating wireframes and prototypes. The wireframe is a static, low- or high-fidelity overview of your product’s interface, focusing on the basic layout structure, space allocation, and key interface elements. The mockup shows you everything interactively, fully representing the functionality of the website.These design tools help you minimize the following business risks:

  • reduce the time designers spend correcting mismatches;
  • analyze the final product overview before of its development;
  • obtain a cost-effective way to make adjustments in the initial stage of product development.

To avoid frequent errors related to the design of the platform of social networks, We suggest following the advice we have gathered in the following table:

Finally, keep in mind that both the UI and UX are complementary in nature. It is impossible to build your own successful social media platform if it has an attractive design, no matter how poor its usability and vice versa. However, if you have a problem with choosing the right design for your social network, our specialists will help you opt for a suitable solution.

Stack of technology required for the development of the social network website

Choosing the right technology stack for programming a social network typically depends on the most suitable solution for the stated requirements, the complexity of the project, and the technical skills and experience of the software developers. Let’s consider the most popular options of technologies that can be used for client-side and server-side development of a social networking website.

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Crucial aspects to consider when developing the back-end of your social network

If you’re building a social media platform from scratch, you want it to run smoothly and reduce user abandonment rates. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the following aspects during back-end development.

Proper Rendering

  • Server Side Rendering (SSR)

    This is a more traditional and static way of rendering website content that can delay page load by up to a couple of seconds. If you’re blogging or publishing on social media platforms, this option is right for you, as it doesn’t require a quick and immediate response between subsequent page loads.

    One rendering approach is done using back – Collaborative end-developers with or without HTML/CSS coder, with the help of Spring Framework, Velocity library or other efficient Java technologies. Also, note that unlike CSR (client-side rendering), the microservices back-end architecture is not applicable for SSR; therefore, go for monolithic architecture.

  • Client Side Rendering (CSR)

    If you want to build a site web such as Facebook , this type of data visualization is more suitable. This approach is more dynamic and responsive and allows you to create a network that will give you a quick rendering of the website after the first initial load.

    The CSR solution is driven by front-end developers and is typically deployed in JavaScript with the help of AngularJS, React.js or Vue.js frameworks. Depending on your requirements, both monolithic and microservices back-end architectures are suitable for your website if you choose CSR.

Improving security

  • Structured Query Language (SQL) injection prevention

    Your users’ sensitive data, such as authentication details and login information credit card, may be vulnerable to SQL injections in case of security. To prevent such malicious attacks, make sure to place a secure Java database driver with a prepared statement function that sends the query and data to the database server. data separately, avoiding the intervention of such an attack on records within the database.

    The PHP database driver, for example, does not provide such protections, so developers must protect it using input data escaping or some other technology.

    As you can see, the choice of programming language and/or framework influences the tooltack that secures your product, which, in turn , they must be used correctly.

  • protection against Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks

    If your social network does not have properly protected input data validation , your website is open to XSS attacks. In this case, consider integrating input data filtering on arrival or encrypt your data on output.

  • secure hosting

    To make sure your users’ data is stored securely, you want to go for top-rated and reliable cloud web hosting providers like AWS , A2 Hosting, HostGator, or InMotion.

  • data encryption

    The integration of the SSL data encryption type is considered one of the most effective and mandatory. security measures when you try to create your own social networking website. Prevents hackers from obtaining your users’ sensitive data while in transit.

  • updating programs

    The security of many websites is often compromised. compromised due to software componentsAlways make sure that all parts of your programs are up to date, be it the latest version of the plugin or CMS, so that there are no website vulnerabilities open for attacks.

Admin Panel

This is one of the most vital tools for moderation of any social networking website that cannot be overlooked. It is a complete application that interfaces with your website and aims to enhance your business capabilities by:

  • providing information about user-related features (user behavior);
  • detect violation of website rules and policies;
  • display business metrics (KPI).

Improve performance

  • Scaling Out

    The more popular your network becomes, the more concurrent workloads running within the website. In such a case, maintaining horizontal scalability is a must when building a social media platform like Facebook, which can be achieved with the right choice of load balancers from your provider. p>

  • Content Delivery Network

    In case your goal is to popularize your network not only in a particular geographic location but globally, you can increase the performance of your website by using CDN (content delivery network) . This solution provides faster content delivery to end users far from the hosted server by using local or closer edge servers.

  • Content size optimization

    To optimize the work of your website, you may need software that compresses audio, video, text and other types of files. You can use a Gzip application that statically or dynamically compresses and decompresses files, improving website page load by almost 15%. Also, it is better to store files in zip files than to zip them in the frontend every time the request arrives.

Make the website fault tolerant

Several factors can negatively affect the performance of your website. Fault tolerance is one of the most vital aspects to consider when planning to create a social networking site, which helps to counter such intrusions. It can be provided with the help of such preventive measures:

  • enable clustering – the process that helps to replicate the actions of the server in case of its sudden malfunction;

  • make sure you have a fault-tolerant database, which will take over the work of the main one in case of fails ;

  • integrate reliable communication channels that will ensure secure and consistent data exchange and reduce the risks of lost connection;

  • provide database backup to eliminate the possibility of loss of sensitive data;

  • ensure disaster recovery procedures. Those procedures will depend on whether you choose cloud or on-premises computing. In the case of the former, you’ll need to enable cloud data migration to the other region. If you choose the latter option, make sure you have a backup provider or data center in the other geographic area. Also, if you use an on-premises environment, you can switch to cloud computing in this case;

CI/CD

Continued The Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployments (CD) are must-have practices during social media web development that allow for an efficient and flexible workflow that eventually leads to faster and more efficient deployment. without errors. DevOps engineers are those who provide and maintain a well-functioning CI/CD setup process throughout the development lifecycle. By taking this approach to your social media website development, you can get:

  • minimized errors occurring when you launch your website, since regressions are detected earlier during automated testing iterative (CI);
  • reduced costs for post-development testing because the CI server performs many tests automatically;
  • faster release because the CI/CD pipeline constantly merges code and deploys it to production after automated testing, therefore keeping it always ready for release.

QA and Testing

Maintaining a high load on the website, the responsibility for the security of user data and their payments within the network are factors that define the extreme importance of approaching the testing stage carefully.

Tests are are carried out to ensure that the software vendor complies accurately meet all customer requirements. They also allow both the client and stakeholders and testers to track changes within the project, eliminating potential misunderstandings between parties.Typically, you want to perform the following types of tests when developing a social network:

  • functional testing – Helps ensure that all features of your network are working according to your the requirement specification. In doing so, the QA engineering team pays attention to various aspects, such as the core functionality of the website, the interoperability of different functional modules, etc.;
  • security testing – Conducted to ensure that your social networking website does not contain threats or security breaches that could harm your users’ sensitive data;
  • performance testing – preparing the website to sustain the possible load while in progress;
  • interface testing – helps ensure correct data transmission from the server side and the client-side rendering;
  • usability testing: QA/QC engineers test if there are any weaknesses in the client-side part of the website.

Aimprosoft’s QA department applies the most complex approach to choosing the appropriate type of equipment. type of test, depending on the complexity of the product and its requirements. By integrating the work of the QA team from the very beginning of the project, you can potentially reduce development costs, ensure smooth running of your network, and increase your capabilities.

Launch and promote

To program a social network, a cycle of iterative testing procedures precedes the final launch of the website. After this, we at Aimprosoft freeze the code and continue to fix bugs for 2-3 weeks without modifying the product. To avoid potential launch-related business risks, it is also recommended to:

  • test all URLs to see if they work correctly;
  • verify if your website is browser-friendly and mobile devices;
  • check your HTML/CSS code for errors;
  • double check your website’s security component and make sure your social network has a backup.

Once your social network is approved for the actual launch, it’s time to implement the marketing strategy to promote your website. This can include:

  • advertise your product through other popular social networks if their concept differs from yours;
  • promote it on Quora by answering the questions on related topics and attaching the link to the website;
  • promotion with the help of popular influencers;
  • invest in search engine marketing to appear on the first page of search results.

Once you have launched your website, it is crucial to monitor its performance and the behavior of your users in order to update it further accordingly.

Having reviewed the main points that should be considered in the course After developing such a product, let’s find out how much it actually costs to code a social networking site from scratch.

Estimate Social Networking Site Development Cost

To define an approximate cost that will be requires to start your own social network, let’s consider a similar product that c We were called Chattlez.

Chattlez included basic functions inherent to a standard social networking website; We also put a lot of emphasis on responsive design, which wasn’t so common in 2013. The concept of Chattlez was to combine a product aggregator with a social network and turn it into a marketplace that allowed people to communicate and make purchases. It took us almost 5 months to develop a social network like this and it allowed us to come up with a rough formula for estimating both time and cost for creating social networking websites.

When you create your own site of social networks, it is necessary to develop an MVP first to identify the weaknesses of the product and the exact improvements to invest more. The following core for any social networking features was implemented in Chattlez:

  • User registration;
  • User authentication;
  • User profile;
  • Subscription;
  • News subscription;
  • Option to share content;
  • Publishing content;
  • Feedback;
  • Search;
  • Messages.

The following equipment stack is typically required if you decide to create an MVP first:

  • 1 project manager;
  • 1 UI/UX engineer;
  • 1 backend developer;
  • 1 frontend developer;
  • 1 quality control engineer;
  • 1 DevOps engineer.

Once MVP goes through the first wave of critical testing by your potential audience and feedback is obtained, you can continue with the development of the full product with the following additional features that were also included in Chattlez:

  • administration panel;
  • linking with other network platforms social;
  • Content moderation;
  • Analyze ticks;
  • Advanced search;
  • User profile customization.

If you go for a full product build right out of the box, you’ll need a rough stack of software developers to code a social networking site from scratch. May vary based on project complexity and release date:

  • 1 business analyst;
  • 1 project manager;
  • 1 UI engineer /UX ;
  • 1+ back-end developer(s);
  • 1+ front-end developer(s);
  • 1+ engineer( s) QA;
  • 1 architect (optional);
  • 1 DevOps engineer.

We used our experience creating Chattlez to prepare a comparative table below of the approximate time it takes to start a social media platform, both MVP and full version of the product.

The above estimated time it takes to code a social media platform. social media can vary if you do some business analysis, all the mockups and prototypes yourself, and then turn to the full-cycle development company. Regarding back-end development, the most complex and time-consuming parts are related to creating the admin panel and embedded analytics, which require approximately 200 hours each.

In the following table, we have calculated the cost to build your social networking website which varies among software providers in different parts of the world.

You may notice that depending on the geographic area, the average rate of developers can differ significantly. So, for example, the total development cost to create a social website in Eastern Europe (Ukraine) is only 40% of the same cost in the US.

Conclusion

The growth of users and their demands, the growing impact of social networking websites on human life and the variety of possible niches to enter are those reasons why a site like FB is worth building. To profit from such a promising industry, you need to have a feasible idea, a bit of courage, and a dedicated software partner to implement the more complex features.

If you want to discuss questions about creating a business website, social networks, contact us and Aimprosoft will help you with your initial effort.

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