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How to build a social network? Helpful advice

Social networks have become an integral part of our daily lives. Statistics say that we spend more than two and a half hours daily on social networks, and the networks themselves have involved more than 60% of the world's population. We use social platforms to inform, entertain, communicate with new people, find new business partners and join communities that arouse our interest. The power of social networks is incredible, so it is not surprising that people are interested in creating their social network and repeating the success of Facebook. What is a social network? A modern social network is a digital tool that allows users to quickly create and share content such as videos, blog links, event announcements, photos, and live broadcasts on the Internet on mobile devices and laptops. More broadly, a social network is a website where any interaction of people takes place. We also witness the emergence of a new indirect interaction through AR/VR devices (such as glasses, helmets, su

How to build a social network? Helpful advice

Social networks have become an integral part of our daily lives. Statistics say that we spend more than two and a half hours daily on social networks, and the networks themselves have involved more than 60% of the world's population. We use social platforms to inform, entertain, communicate with new people, find new business partners and join communities that arouse our interest. The power of social networks is incredible, so it is not surprising that people are interested in creating their social network and repeating the success of Facebook.

What is a social network?

A modern social network is a digital tool that allows users to quickly create and share content such as videos, blog links, event announcements, photos, and live broadcasts on the Internet on mobile devices and laptops. More broadly, a social network is a website where any interaction of people takes place. We also witness the emergence of a new indirect interaction through AR/VR devices (such as glasses, helmets, suits).

Anyone can register with a social media account and use it to share any content they choose. The content shared by the user reaches anyone who visits their page or profile.

There are significant differences from traditional means of mass communications (newspapers, radio stations, and television channels). First of all, it is a high speed of content distribution. Secondly, they promise equal rights to create and publish content. Thirdly, lower restrictions on content.

Why do you need your social network?

If you are interested in creating your social network, you are likely already faced with the limitations of existing networks. Most likely, these restrictions are invisible for most people, but businesses can suffer stronger. So what factors are the most significant when deciding to create your social network? What can they mean, and what benefit will you get?

Among the massive number of motives, we note the most significant:

- Reduced efficiency. One of the paradoxes is that the wider the audience of modern social networks becomes, the harder it is to reach the target audience. For example, organic content comes no more than 2% of your audience on Facebook and Instagram, and you do not control what your users can see unless you pay for advertising. But advertising does not always work well - minimal customization options are supplemented by intelligent algorithms that optimize the advertising budget. But the algorithms themselves are constantly changing, and their logic remains unknown to advertisers. Therefore, large advertisers are forced to spend part of the budget developing and updating strategies to adapt advertising campaigns to hidden algorithmic changes. 

- Social media moderators do not have enough time to filter all content, even using artificial intelligence. And the problem is not only that prohibited content gets on the pages, but sometimes moderators delete content that they subjectively do not like. In this situation, Facebook got when its CEO was forced to explain the U.S. Congress on charges of unequal censorship of content. Add to this news feeds filled with distractions such as clickbait. Taken together, all this makes it challenging to build a close connection between companies and their consumers in public social networks.

- Poor monetization. Social networks are big business, and first of all, their task is to generate profits for shareholders. Transferring part of the income to users is only a related feature for unique content to appear on their platform. Of course, any business will follow the rules of monetization established by the social network operator. For example, there is no way to charge for access to the Facebook group, and there are no built-in subscription options, donations, or e-commerce. Therefore, in many cases, business is forced to use third-party services to provide services. Of course, this is also inconvenient for users, as they have to install and start using additional applications and register another account. Business, in turn, begins to lose touch with users, as it is forced to monitor analytics on several platforms.

- Content possession. Placing your content on a third-party social network such as Facebook or Instagram means that you have transferred it to Walled Garden. This action has many consequences that may seem insignificant at first. Firstly, all content is analyzed for targeting and imperceptibly for you, and without the malicious intent of the social network itself, it can be used against your interests. In practice, it may look like showing your competitors' ads on your community page. Secondly, there is no reasonable way to take this content back. At some point, you may decide that you own something unique, but you will not be able to regain the right to exclusive use on a social network. And thirdly, it should be remembered that our participation in social networks and providing access to them is freewill and non-binding. Therefore, both the change of functions and your account’s existence remains the operator's right. And if your business is built around a social network, it is at risk. The loss of your community and available content can happen unexpectedly and very quickly.

- Limited individuality. Of course, almost any social network provides the ability to customize the profile and page cover, but it will not be possible to go beyond this. If you prioritize your brand recognition, you will likely not achieve this goal. The foremost opportunity for you, as well as for all other users, will be to draw attention to exciting content.

Creating your social network solves many of these problems by strengthening your position and making you the content's creator and owner. Of course, it cannot be said unambiguously that your social network is a panacea for all the shortcomings of third-party social networks, but this is the only way to get rid of the restrictions described.

Social networks types

When you have sufficiently studied the restrictions of users on social networks and realized the need for your network, you need to move on to the question of what can be done yourself today. And you need to start by choosing the type of social network. As we have already found out, a social network is a website for people to interact. And methods of interaction determine their types:

- Universal networks are at the top, and unfortunately, due to the closure of personal data stored, they are unattainable. Throw away your illusions, and there are no investors today ready to challenge Facebook. And it's not about technology or a unique user interface. Here, many specialists have big questions about the Meta network operator. The company's main assets are a vast user audience and advertisers' trust. You can be sure that the current giants, Meta and Alphabet, will vigorously protect billions of users' data accumulated in the walled garden. After all, their main business is the sale of targeted advertising, which works only on their big data.

- Entertainment websites unite users around specific hobbies such as computer games, astrology, pets. People like this kind of community because it's a great way to find like-minded people who share similar interests. In addition, such social networks are perfectly monetized, as you do not need to collect much information about them to display relevant advertising.

- Educational social networks became especially popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they allow people under social restrictions to continue to improve their skills, get additional or new education. The Udemy portal is an excellent example of interaction on the Internet and access to educational materials.

- Corporate resources, unlike other types, depending on the purpose, can function in a closed Intranet environment or a semi-closed Extranet environment. For example, the corporate social network website can simultaneously provide sales on the Internet and unite employees.

- Professional platforms are aimed at specialists and companies from different industries and provide an opportunity to communicate on career issues, interviews, and search for or offer a job. LinkedIn is a clear leader, and although the financial results of this service are not disclosed, since it is now part of Microsoft, there is no doubt about its success.

- Academic social networks are created for scientists interested in exchanging the results of scientific works. Traditionally, it is customary to make science openly; otherwise, the process of cognition slows down. Therefore, monetizing such resources is weak, and ResearchGate confirms it.

- Dating sites are aimed at helping people find a partner. Loneliness is a big problem in modern society, and dating sites successfully offer ways to solve it. So popular premium subscription services for a small fee allow owners of such networks to look to the future with great optimism.

- Information websites such as Quora or Reddit help people find the best answers to their questions on various topics. It is already considered an excellent way to look for more relevant information on these social networks, not using the Google search engine.

- Media sharing platforms provide users with the opportunity to share rich media content, such as videos or images. Recognized leaders - Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, TikTok, are well prepared for a breakthrough in high-speed data transmission technologies. They can now offer excellent services even on mobile devices in 4G and 5G communication networks.

Social networks functions

Now that we have described all the different types of social networks, we need to determine which functions should be implemented unconditionally. All social networks provide access by registering a new user and authorization regardless of the type. This interaction differs from ordinary websites designed to distribute content from appointed creators to consumers. Here is a basic set of requirements for your social network:

- A profile provides information about the user, such as name, biography, marital status, location, photo, some life facts. In addition, it makes the user searchable and provides initial information about his interests.

- Security is a comprehensive issue of any website where personal data is present. Therefore, any social network needs various tools, from two-factor user authorization and antiviral content verification to protect against DDoS and other external attacks.

- Users should be allowed to send a friend request or follow others to see updates in their news feed.

- The news feed for most users is the primary value of a social network. Not all users want to create content, but everyone wants to see what's happening in the lives of the friends, people, and groups they follow. Individualization of the news feed will not require manual labor if you have artificial intelligence at your disposal.

- Posts provide an opportunity to share news, information and discuss topics with your friends or a wider community. For some users, the main thing is being heard, not the ability to listen. And for business, this is the only opportunity to promote brands, goods, and services through social networks.

- Live streaming is a relatively new but trendy way of interaction and quickly contacts the audience to demonstrate an event or product.

- Groups consist of users with common interests. For business pages, the group is the target audience, in which it is convenient to conduct marketing research, promotions, report on the release of new products.

- Chats are needed to communicate privately outside the group and comment in public messages within groups.

- Push notifications allow the social network to constantly contact users by sending notifications about new posts or events—a social network without reminders risks being forgotten.

- Searching for people, groups, or content allows users to form social connections faster and join groups. The better your search works, the more often it will be accessed. Consequently, high satisfaction with the search result increases user loyalty.

- The ability for users to upload media content. Your social network can increase influence by providing additional tools, such as exchanging documents of allowed types.

- Moderation and administration tools. As the owner of a social network, you are responsible for everything that happens to the content. On the one hand, you are free to exclude unwanted content and block the accounts of rule violators, and on the other hand, you must maintain freedom of expression. As the audience grows, you will need to increase the number of moderators, and administration tools will help you assign their roles and rights.

- Analytics on using a social network will allow you to understand your audience in detail. From the very beginning, this will help you identify functional blunders and test new functions on the audience groups (this is what all major social networks do). In the future, the collected information about user actions, habits, and personal data will help prepare for targeting tools.

- Web application and mobile application. Most people use portable devices to access social networks on the go. However, for business users, using a web application is preferable. Make your choice depending on the needs of your audience.

We have described the main elements to build your social network. And now you have to determine which house you want to develop. Invite your friends, your team, and experts to discuss the following issues:

1. Choosing a niche for your social network is the alpha and omega of success. Even if the idea seems brilliant and new to you, find strong critics and listen to their arguments. Another opinion will help form the goal as accurately as possible, even if you wish to transform the initial intention in the implementation process.

2. Determine your target audience; it should correlate well with the selected niche. Your choice will also indicate how to monetize the social network. Use all available tools to learn your audience. For example, you may order an analytical study from a third-party company. In addition, it's worth using ready-made statistical data (you can find many services on the Internet that provide them by subscription). Finally, you may consider testing your idea practically by creating an inexpensive social network prototype on some SaaS platform, inviting a focus group there, and then interviewing them about the results.

3. Choosing a platform to create a social network is a crucial step. There are three ways, but you have to choose only one right platform by the tasks and budget. If you don't set ambitious goals, you can try using any SaaS platform. Low price, minimal technical skills, ready-made tools, and design allow you to launch the project within a few weeks. But there will be more disadvantages than advantages. Such a social network will never belong to you, and you will always be limited by the rules and frameworks set by the owners of the SaaS platform. It also means that it is impossible to implement unique functions. Therefore, such a social network will claim the title of "another, " but not "new.” Another option is mistaken for an alternative to the SaaS platform. Much open-source software with extension plugins looks like an excellent replacement at first glance. Mega-popular WordPress and the famous BuddyPress plugin solve only part of the problem: owning a social network and complete control. Other issues such as performance, scalability, security don't stand up to criticism. Further, implementing unique functions requires high developer competence, which inevitably entails costs. It isn’t easy to assume in advance how much money you need to spend on creating special features built into a universal web engine. But the resulting hybrid will always limp in terms of kernel functioning. If you consider these compromises unacceptable, refer to creating a custom social network on a specialized platform. Qwerty Networks does not recommend making a platform from scratch because it will take several years and may spend millions of dollars. Instead, the company proposes to use the QSNE platform to develop and deploy high-load social networks.

4. The terms of reference for creating a social network require a formal, detailed presentation of all functions and stages. Qwerty Networks is always actively involved in such work, as it has good expertise in creating social networks and can help the customer achieve its goals as fully as possible. Furthermore, you do not need to limit your wishes to the capabilities of SaaS and Out-of-Box platforms if you choose the QSNE platform. QSNE is built on a stack of Big Tech technologies, so its capabilities are almost limitless.

5. Promotion of a social network. It is effortless to create a small community of friends and colleagues, and it is incomparably more challenging to attract tens and hundreds of thousands of strangers. It takes a solid budget to make a new star noticeable in the constellation of social networks for users worldwide. And most likely, you will have to start advertising a new project on universal social networks, as they cover the vast majority of active Internet users in the world. Perhaps it will be possible to develop an original viral marketing move similar to the promotion of the ClubHouse application. As you remember, the leading news was how the user could get to the platform, not an explanation of why it was necessary.

Summing up, we can say that when creating a social network, you need to pay attention to two key points - the choice of a niche of the social network and the choice of a platform for its creation. And if the first aspect is subjective and reflects the goals and desires of the owner, the second has a relatively objective solution. So contact company Qwerty Networks, and we will tell you how to implement your idea on the first-class QSNE platform.


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