The Next Facebook in The Making? Social Apps Development Decoded
Long live social media. social media is dead! Social media apps are a way of life in 2017 but what next?
Social media as a behemoth is all but dead and presently messaging apps with chat bots, intelligent agents and new conversation UI are resurrecting and adding a brand-new dimension to social media.
Being a just another me-too social media or messaging app with ubiquitous bells and whistles is not sufficient to stand out. Instead your app idea needs to offer users the next dimension in social media app. Here’s how you can ride the next wave of social media apps.
Is Your Social Media App Ready for the Future?
Before you jump into app development, it’s better to take a stock of the fast-evolving social media sphere. Here’s a sneak peek into key areas social media experts are betting big on:
More segmented – From Attention to Engagement
Social media is getting more segmented, more people-focused. Social media giants no longer echo the real sense of community instead they’ve spread themselves too thin. For millennials and gen Z, the whole social giant oversaturation has in many ways eroded the fun of interaction and engagement. With users showing a marked preference for more specialized communities, niche social media networks like Quora, Squibb, Potluck, Cabana by Tumblr for watching videos with friends, MLB.com At Bat, Wayne, Dribble are becoming more popular. Brands too are reaching out to communities through influencers rather than just individuals.
From. gifs, creative stickers, emojis to engaging conversational UI, social media apps are betting big on gamification. For instance, M&M’s eye spy pretzel, to in-app games like QuizUp or standalone apps like Memrise or Duolingo successfully use machine learning and gamification to stimulate interest and increase engagement of its users.
Social Messaging Apps:
88% of Millennials prefer chatting over the web or social media to talk to businesses, rather than over the phone. With added features, messaging apps also provide an opportunity for a direct, continual, and personalized interactions between individuals and brands.
Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI):
There’s a reason why Google, Samsung, Apple, Facebook, YouTube, GoPro are investing heavily in VR & AR. While vTime is the first VR powered social network, there are several ways that VR will impact social media in 2018 once the technology becomes more accessible with Google’s DayDream and Tango. Similarly, AI too promises to add zing to your social media app. From curating the best possible dynamic newsfeed content for individual users to providing tools that make advertising easier or place better ads, AI also offers intelligent image and voice recognition capabilities that presently apps like Hound, ELSA speak.
So how can you add all this to make your social media app idea a success. Let’s break it down in detail.
Basics of a Social Networking App Development
Before you begin mobile app development it is essential to give your social media app idea a structure and shape.
Most social networking apps have similar functionalities and the key elements include:
1. User Profile
Social media are profile-centric; thus, account registration must be seamless. It’s advisable to integrate registration with other social media sites and offer photo-editing tools to customize their user-profile.
2. Content Feed/ User Feed Updates for Expression and Engagement
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning now allow you to curate dynamic user-generated content. You would want to provide tools for self-expression that make for an engaging content feed, which could well be the secret sauce to your app’s success.
3. Creating Network Connections
It’s how users can join the network and connect to each other on the social network through different mediums.
4. Messaging Functionality
Popularity of in-app communication or socket communication, like Facebook messenger proves that users prefer a more personalized and convenient way of expressing and connecting.
Make Your Social Networking App Stand Out:
You may integrate additional features to make your app stand apart through multiple in-app interactions with the focus on delivering instant engagement to the user by quickly conveying ‘What’s in It for Me’ to the user.
Push notification is a way to speak directly to the user. Not only do they promise greater click-through, foster engagement by helping start new conversations but also provides convenience and value to app users. A good push notification strategy must take location, time, and user demographics into account. It must however, offer a solid value proposition to convince the users to opt-in and provide explicit permission. Choose from these services for their ability to handle the delivery of large volumes of push notifications to any desired platform:
- Urban Airship
- Parse Push
- Microsoft Windows Azure Mobile Services
- Amazon SNS (Simple Notification Service)
Encrypted format communication between client and server:
You may use Signal – the free and open-source encrypted messaging for Windows, Android or iPhone app development, just as WhatsApp has, to ensure confidentiality of data and to also avoid the possibility of interception by a third party.
In-App Gestures include a tap, swipe, pinch to zoom, press, flick, drag, shaking, tilting or more, thus eliciting a close personal connection with content and pave way for beautiful interfaces. In-fact Apple’s 3D touch takes gestures to the next level. You may choose from ‘Using Touch Gestures’ to allows users to interact with app via touch gestures for Android whereas use Gestures for iOS app.
Add. GIFS/ Stickers/ Emoticons:
They are everywhere! . Gifs/ Stickers, emojis enrich conversation and most users like using branded emojis/. GIFs to communicate expressively express themselves. You may use iMessage to build and deploy a custom app extension while for Android you can use popular tools like Emogi.
Geofilters like those in Snapchat for your app or integrating successful event discovery feature in your app like Facebook events to drive further engagement? Consider creating smart data scrapers using tools like Parsehub or Scrapy to gather insights and update it directly partner websites or use the following APIs to gather data.
- Meetup API
- Facebook Events API
- TicketMaster API
- Foursquare API
Having a localized version and offering multi-lingual support for messaging ensures higher user adoption. Especially in markets with diverse demographics like India having a multi-language support is fundamental to increase reach and revenue.
By default, Android considers English as primary language and loads the string resources from res ⇒ values ⇒ strings.xml. When you want to add support for another language, you need to create a values folder by appending an Hyphen and the ISO language code. For example, if you want to add support for French, you should create a values folder named values - Fr and keep a strings.xml file in it with all the strings translated into French language.
Similarly, for iOS apps, you get resource files ready for localization, collect all the texts in resource files, translate the resource files and integrate it back into the application using XCode. You may also use Auto Layout to automatically adjust the dimensions and layout of views.
Games and Trivia
Adding trivia/games in addition to chat ensures that people stay longer on the app and come back more frequently. It fosters a sense of community and builds personal relationships. A great way to make gamification work for your app is to make use of leaderboards, give challenges, rewards or even badges for accomplishments to encourage users. A popular example is the QuizUp app which taps into the power of micro communities, where users not only compete against each, but contribute to an existing topic or create a new topic.
You can enhance the functionality of your messaging chatbot using Facebook’s Wit.ai or Google’s api.ai or use Sinch SDK for real-time communication/ instant messaging/ video streaming/ Voice calls on both iOS and Android.
You may also use cloud services to enable real-time communication (or close to) between apps, create interactive games like instant messaging, document collaboration, or multi-player gaming.
- Apple’s Game Kit — iOS only and dedicated to gaming
- One sequel Gamebot
Chat Bots and Social Ecommerce:
Brands are increasingly switching to ChatBots and Social e-commerce since it is a win-win for both users and brands. Business can create their own chatbots with Facebook Messenger using advanced conversational design platforms like Api.ai, Floxo, Botframe, Chatfuel, Botsify, OnSequel to meet customer’s expectations in terms of response time.
What are your traffic estimates? While you may have big plans for your app, it’s best to create an MVP product and then gradually scale. Ensure that you use Crashlytics – the lightest weight crash reporting solution for its detailed, yet effective information and robust reporting. Crashlytics dives deep into your stack traces and allows you to quickly scan and root out the issue while also giving all the data you need.
Space is precious and you should therefore keep your total application size as small as possible. However, you may use expansion files (ideally a compressed file) up to 2GB at no extra cost to store additional APK assets.
The rule of the thumb is to start with a well-supported SQLite, MySQL or PostgreSQL database for structured database. Also pay heed to the size of apps and use of Expansion Files in case the apk is bigger If you are looking to accelerate the development process while simultaneously meeting the varied app requirement, it is suggested to choose Ruby-on-Rails or among the many MVC PHP frameworks.
Instead of setting your own server and hosting a backend that may require more investment of time and resources, you can integrate the following for storage and synchronization services — of user information or app-related data into your app across multiple devices. This would also ensure that:
- Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service)
- Google Drive
- Microsoft Azure Web Services – Table Storage
- Apple’s iCloud (iOS and Mac Only)
- Dropbox Sync
- Parse Data
The Admin Panel plays an important role by delivering analytics to gauge user behavior, user-management and to monitor & control user generated content. Thus, admin panel facilitates conversations between the user and project admin in instances when user needs to ask questions related to personal usage statistics, payment history.
If you want to accelerate your social networking app development, get our Mobile app experts to evaluate your idea, and get your Social Media apps created faster.
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