Today, every Internet user is looking for a way to express oneself: he does not hesitate to leave comments, upload photos, record songs, make videos and share any media with other users like him.
It is not surprising that social media applications are gaining popularity, and their number is growing every day.
Pondering over creation a platform for social media, you need to understand that the overall development plan does not fundamentally differ from the development of any other type of applications, but it has its own nuances and difficulties.
Many years of experience and continuous improvement have helped Umbrella master skills of our social media app developers.
Our Stylecaster project, made for Sheknows Media, has become one of the most popular women’s information web portals, attracting more than 6 million new visitors every month.
The interesting and convenient to use Stylecaster has more than 250 thousand unique visitors a day, and Sheknows Media is among the top 50 of the most popular social media according to the American analytics company ComScore, surpassing such popular resources as Craigslist and Vimeo.
Therefore today we want to not only introduce you to the most common problems when creating social media applications but also to share our own proven methods to solve them.
But everything has its time, so for now let’s start at the very beginning.
Starting developing a social media app, you need to clearly understand what kind of applications it is and what purposes it serves. So, let’s first understand what “social media” means in the modern world.
Social media includes omnifarious Internet platforms for mass communication.
They allow people to share their thoughts and emotions through the publication of articles, blogging, image selection, etc. But they all have one goal that is sharing and exchanging information.
On these web resources you can find out, process and spread information to masses using a variety of ways: articles, pictures, and gifs, video and audio files, e-books and magazines. And this list is to be continued.
Very often social media is devoted to a single topic. It can be anything: sports, fashion, travel or music so that even the most whimsical user will find something interesting for oneself.
Here you can leave your comments, read interesting articles, vote for the most inspirational images, and, certainly, share your favorite posts with friends on social networking apps.
Once you are up to develop a social media app for android or ios you will definitely face the problem what type of app to chose: native or hybrid? To find the answer to this question read the article “Native vs Hybrid apps”.
Along with the term social media, you can often hear another widespread term ‒ social network.
At first glance, it may seem that these two terms are synonyms. But there is a fundamental difference between social media and social networks app development:
The main purpose of social networks is communication.
While social media is aimed at spreading and exchanging certain information to mass audience using various articles and multimedia content: images, videos, animations, graphics, photos, etc.
It is difficult to say which is more popular among users: social network or social media, because more and more often they interact with each other and give users bright, varied communication supplemented by topical articles, interesting blogs and a large number of media files.
Sometimes social networks and social media are so strongly interlaced that it becomes hard to distinguish one from another. For example, Facebook is considered to be a social network, but is it so?
Facebook, the world’s most famous Internet platform for communication, is usually referred to social networks, but is it right?
Initially, facebook creators were building a social network application for communication of Harvard University students, then for students and scholars of any educational institution in Boston, and later for communication of people all around the world.
Now facebook allows its users not only to do personal correspondence but also to share multimedia with others. All users can post pictures, gifs, videos, links on their walls, like posts of other people and share them with friends.
Does this mean that facebook is more than just a social network as it combines functions and properties of both social networks and social media?
But this is not quite true since Facebook does not publish any news or articles itself. If it offers its users to comment on his new post or choose the most liked picture from his collection, then we could confidently say that it has transformed into social media.
But for now Facebook remains a social network, which is closely interlaced with various social media due to its users who actively repost interesting news from other services to their walls.
Today all other known Internet platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google + etc. are working the same way.
There is no difference.
Social media applications are designed and developed in the same way as other ones: come up with an idea, choose a team of professionals and begin to implement the project.
For many years Umbrella specializes in developing web and mobile apps of various types. Often we serve as a social media app development company realizing the most daring ideas of clients.
Read other article of ours to learn how to protect yourself, your investments and project.
But while developing a social media app you can face a number of certain difficulties common to this type of applications. Let’s take a closer look at them.
It’s time to talk about the most common difficulties that you will surely face when starting working on the social media application development.
But we suggest you not only to get acquainted with a list of frequently occurring problems but also use our own, specially prepared, proven ways to solve them. These simple tips will help you cope with the difficulties, and help your application grow stably.
So, let’s start!
A server may not carry the load for many reasons: large traffic, a sharp increase of the number of users, many application work processes launched.
It is very important the server to run without stoppages and ensure stable operation of the project, otherwise, your application can earn a bad reputation, and you will lose money and trust of the users.
Our solution: use proven services and platforms, such as WordPress VIP and Amazon AWS.
We recommend to use them, as they will ensure high-quality and stable operation of the app.
DevOps of WordPress VIP service will not only analyze your code to check the presence of any errors and code reliability but also put forward a number of requirements, which must be followed when developing a project so that the service can maintain its operational stability.
These precautions will help optimize the code and balance the load. This means that if your traffic starts to grow sharply, the service will not fall, but will withstand the rapid increase in the number of new users (even 100 million views a day will not frighten it).
We have proven that this works on our own example.
When developing the Stylecaster project, we expected a large influx of users and, therefore, used the WordPress VIP service to ensure the stable operation of the website and avoid problems with the service in the future. As a result, Stylecaster has more than 250 thousand unique visitors a day, and the service holds such a load perfectly.
Besides WordPress VIP, we also often use the Amazon AWS platform, which allows us to store the whole project infrastructure in the cloud. This is its great advantage over other platforms as in case the server falls we will be able to restore the database from the backend.
The work of the application doesn’t always entirely depend on you. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances take place.
No application is insured against the occurrence of errors related to the poor work quality of another service. For example, such small vendors as JWPlayer or SharedCount can easily fall off, or the third-party service code may stop syncing with yours.
Such problems will also affect the operation of your app and can lead to a lot of negative feedbacks from your users.
The more third-party services you connect to your application, the more likely that something will fall off. Therefore, it is necessary to think in advance how to solve suddenly emerging problems quickly and protect your application from them.
Our solution: hire the team of technical support, which will work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and monitor all the work processes of the application.
The technical support team must not only responsibly perform the work on its side, but also take the initiative offering assistance to third-party services which your application integrates with in order to find out and eliminate the errors. This will help not to lose time and to find a solution as soon as possible.
Such kind of insurance will allow you to track the occurring errors first and eliminate them faster than most users will have time to notice them.
For example, we quickly noticed that the new advertising displayed on the Stylecaster website completely removed the website itself. Our employees not only tried to eliminate the problem from their side, but also immediately informed the developers of advertising about this error.
Investing a lot of money in a project you expect that it will pay for itself and fully cover social media app development cost. However, this not always happens.
This problem may occur because of various factors but quite often interesting and useful projects are simply not in demand by users.
Why does this happen? The indifference of users can be caused by different reasons however the most common of them is the little fame of an application.
Our solution: tune in targeting and introduce advertising so that as many potential users as possible learn about your application.
Determine the target audience and start building an advertising campaign based on statistical data about users.
For advertising dissemination, we recommend using two online services: Google AdWords & Google AdSense.
Google AdWords will allow you to advertise your application in search engine results, and Google AdSense will place ads about your app in ad blogs on other websites and servers.
So, you understand that you need to advertize your project. But who should you tell about it? Who should you send advertising content to? Who is your target?
Sometimes it is very difficult to understand who the target audience of your project is, what users are interested in your app and who actively uses it.
But without this knowledge, it is impossible to build either a successful advertising campaign or conduct a business strategy. It is necessary to clearly understand who your application is oriented to. How to do this?
Our solution: connect Google analytics and use it actively.
We use Google analytics that is a free online service for getting detailed statistics about the project. Having placed it on your website you will receive detailed information about the users of your app, starting from their age and gender and ending with the country they live in and the language they speak.
Based on this data, you will be able to compile real statistics of users of your application and will finally determine your target audience.
You have determined your target, placed different ads but the traffic remains low and the number of users is not increasing?
Traffic shows how popular your project is. Accordingly, the low traffic of the app shows that it is used by the minimum number of users. However, this does not mean that your application is uninteresting or useless. It rather shows that despite advertising it still appears on very few pages of the Internet and remains unknown to the broad masses.
How to increase traffic, bring your application to the first places of ratings and attract as many new users as possible?
Our solution: hire SEO specialists. The competent and experienced SEO professionals will get down to both internal and external optimization of your project and will help it to occupy one of the leading positions in search results.
SEO specialists use various techniques to promote social media applications. Here are, in our opinion, the most popular and working ones of them:
For users of one of our projects we have created their own awarding ceremony the Beauty Awards. First, the users filled in the questionnaire and entered nominees themselves. It could be their favorite shampoos, lipsticks or perfume.
Then all these cosmetic products were added in the general voting, and any user could vote on his favorite product. The link of the winner led to a web store where one could not only read the detailed description of the product but also acquire it.
Using these and other methods, SEO professionals will help to index your application in such a way that it will appear as often as possible as a result of searching on various requests. This means that as many potential users as possible will see and visit it. The more new users will visit your website or the app, the higher the traffic will.
It often happens that the popularity of the application starts to grow after setting up targeting and introducing advertising, but at the certain point it stops or even decreases.
Perhaps the most common reason for the decrease in traffic is the irrelevance of web or mobile application content. How to maintain the interest of users and the constant growth of the popularity of the app? Where to get the topical content?
Our solution: monitor and analyze the latest trends, introduce the latest features in your app.
It is necessary to remember that your users are just people whose interests and hobbies tend to change. You should not lag behind too, and do just the opposite: you should constantly surprise your users with something new, for example, you can:
For example, for one of our projects we developed the Virtual Makeover game where everyone who wants can try on different makeup and hairstyles just uploading their photo to the website. In addition you can not only select the best image, but also follow the links right to the web store and buy your favorite cosmetic products.
Clients and executors often speak different languages, both literally and figuratively. Therefore, it can be rather difficult to organize healthy and productive communication with the development team.
It is possible not only to miss some important details but also not be able to find a common ground for successful work on the project.
So, how to communicate with the development team?
Our solution: Conduct negotiations with one responsible person only.
Any team has its own responsible person, the so-called Project Manager or short PM, which is the link between you ‒ the client, and the development team ‒ the executors.
PM organizes the whole work process on the project: he not only acts as a mediator collecting your wishes about the application and telling them to the team but also explains in details all the technical points and nuances of the development to the client.
It is especially important to have a PM when you are developing a social media application because you need to be able to introduce new features fast and efficiently.
And we have proven this on our own example many times.
For instance, the owner of social media decided to introduce a new questionnaire into his application timed to February 14 ‒ the Day of All Lovers. But, this idea came to him only on February 12. Our PM competently prioritized and organized the work of the team in such a way that this task was performed qualitatively and did not lose its relevance.
Not only your application does not stand still and is constantly growing and but Google, in its turn, is also hastens to “please” its users with various innovations.
For example, now Google can remove your application or web site from the index, which means that no user will be able to find it in the search engine. Why can this happen?
In addition Google strongly recommends to create HTTPS certificate for your web site, otherwise, it will have a lower place in search engine results.
How to learn about all innovations in time?
Our solution: Follow all the news on Google.
Everyone who is involved in the work on your project should subscribe to updates from Google and learn all the news the first.
Yes, at first sight, this task may seem ridiculous and too simple, but it should be approached with all responsibility.
If our developers were not subscribed to updates from Google in all social networks, we would not be able to find out that Google ranks web sites with the AMP-version above the rest in search engine results.
And so, we quickly introduced AMP subversions of our web sites and are not afraid to miss something important.
Maybe you already have an old application, and now you want to transfer all the information from it to the new one?
Are these applications developed on the same platform or on different ones?
Or maybe you have over 100 articles and 1000 comments from users?
Or there is a huge number of media files there?
Such information cannot be scripted because you cannot set the machine clear criteria for such different information.
Then, how is it possible to transfer all the content from one app to another without losing anything?
Our solution: scrupulously write the code, considering all the nuances.
Yes, it will not be easy and quick. The process of writing such a code will take time, and besides this, it requires constant testing to check whether we have not missed a trifle and whether the transferred content is displayed correctly.
However, this way you can transfer the most varied content nicely and without losing anything.
For example, we faced this task when transferring application content from Drupal to WordPress. Since the methods of writing articles, their formats and display on these two platforms are completely different we had to write code for each case separately. We spent more time, but the content was transferred completely and qualitatively.
In this article, Umbrella shared with you a piece of our many years’ experience, told you about the most common difficulties that you will inevitably face when developing a social media app.
Do not hesitate to add this article to your bookmarks if you want not only to save money, but also to save time solving these problems, and then no difficulty will take you by surprise. An effective and proven solution will always be at hand.
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