Social media has become a key feature of modern day life, and is used by virtually everyone on our planet. According to a 2013 eMarketer report, social media was used by one in four people in the world and the number has only increased since. Facebook, the world’s largest social networking application, boasts 1.86 billion active users. Instagram, the popular photo-sharing application, now has 600 million users. Twitter, even though its customer base is gradually decreasing, still has 317 million users. It is no secret that the number of people using social media has increased tremendously in recent years. With ever-increasing numbers of users, the number of different social media networks has increased tremendously as well. From a marketing standpoint, creating a successful social media network could result in an incredible payoff for many entrepreneurs. So, what makes some apps more “successful” than others.
Most social media developers must include the following: a feed, friends, private and public user interaction. They must also include a “wow” factor, as apps that are just copies of other apps do not gain much popularity. For instance, Facebook is a great example of a social media application with a “wow” factor. Being the first successful social media application of its time, Facebook brought the concept of online photo sharing and messaging to market. Without facebook, we might have never looked at social media the way we do now.
There is also a certain degree of luck that comes into play when finding the right time to release an app to the public. If you release an app at the same time as another app, your app may receive less attention. It is best to release an app at a time where no other apps are planning a simultaneous release. When no new apps are released over a period of time, people begin to get bored and are more inclined to try other social media applications. If you release your app during a less busy time, it is more likely to gain a larger following. In addition to these broad strokes, here are some more specific factors that should be considered when creating a successful social media application.
Security, Ratings, and Customer Service
Personal information, such as chats and pictures, can break the trust between the user and the social media app if mishandled. Trust between an app and its users can be built up in many ways. I find that the best way to determine the quality of an app is to look at the user ratings. They are the most valuable first-hand piece of information that we can get our hands on.
Before downloading the app, I always look at the user ratings and read the comments about what is beneficial and new with the app, but also the few situations where something went wrong with a customer and I note what to watch out for. With the exception of a breach of a user’s online security, for the most part, app users are quite forgiving. What separates a good application from a great application is the customer service behind the app. Users want customer service they can rely on to get help fast! If customer service is reliable and helpful, it not only resolves the issue, but it reflects a positive image on the staff of the social networking app as well. This will help the customer realize that this is an application they can trust.
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Application design can make a tremendous difference in the number of users it attracts. The human mind subconsciously associates the quality of the design with the quality of the app. It is essential to focus on an eye-catching logo as well as a simple but visually appealing home screen. You also need seamless transitions between pages on your feed, no lagging when scrolling and a pleasing background design. After all, the users will be visiting these pages countless numbers of times, so it had better look nice!
Another common mistake that many applications make is to keep the same colour combination for too long. Similar to how people have the constant urge to personalize their profiles on social media, they also have the constant desire to have something different when they look at their screens. Even small adjustments (ie. font of text, different image filters) can help to spark the interest of social media users to continue using the application.
Ability to Log In Via Other Applications
Most social media users aren’t loyal to one single social network. Many users of social media have Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook among many other social media applications. Many apps allow users to “sign in with Google” or to “sign in with Facebook.” Since the user already has Google and/or Facebook, it auto-fills the information and you can access the network without having to go through the hassle of remembering yet another password. While it isn’t necessary for the creator of a social media application to be able to log in using account information using other accounts, it makes the whole login process much easier, which will increase the likelihood of expanding your customer base more quickly.
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As previously mentioned, users crave the ability to be able to express their differences. If we all had the same profile, we might as well use email. To appeal to the desires of social media users, app developers must take into account that social media is not email. It should be filled with customizable options to make each and every user different from the other.
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While not everyone cares about what celebrities tend to do in their daily lives, there are still many people who like to know what the perks of being famous are. Using social media, it has never been easier to find out. By using the same social network as a celebrity, users feel more connected to their activities. As a result, if celebrities come, people will follow. For example, DJ Khaled is a famous rapper who documents virtually everything he does in his daily life on Snapchat. Many people follow on Snapchat to see what he doing. As a result, Snapchat benefits by having more users simply because DJ Khaled is always posting images and videos on his Snapchat story. While this is far from the biggest factor in developing an app, if you can somehow get celebrities using your platform, their supporters will also be very likely to join, which will boost the number of users, especially when starting out.
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Specific Purpose of the App
It is important to specify which type of app you want yours to become. While Facebook and Twitter are both used as social media, they have two very different purposes. Facebook would be classified as a relationship network for personal networking, while Twitter would be a social publishing platform so bloggers can have text and/or media content published. Generally, social media apps are made to carry out a specific purpose, which will appeal to a specific group of like-minded people. This like-mindedness is what creates the social aspect of social media. A successful social media application will find a group of people that like the same things in the same app. From there, relationships are created. If you do not choose the purpose of your social media app early on in the process, it might not appeal to any specific group of people and will quickly lose any user momentum.
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Even though it might seem very difficult and slightly overwhelming to create a social media application from scratch, all you really need is a never-before-seen idea, determination, and the willpower to make your idea a reality. If you think about it, social media was an unknown concept just over two decades ago. Just because so many more developments have been added to the world of social media over the years doesn’t mean this is where it ends. People in 30 years will look back at our generation and say “Why didn’t I think of that?” There are millions of revolutionary, new creations that we can contribute to the world of social media, they just haven’t been discovered yet. In essence, that’s the true spirit of creation: making something that isn’t already here.