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How to create a website like Facebook. Step-by-step guide.

Builders building the house

People might have a love-hate relationship with Facebook, but despite the many controversies surrounding it, it remains by far the biggest social network in the world. Unfortunately, while its audience now numbers in the billions, it has become much harder for smaller brands to get heard among all the digital noise. Perhaps then, it’s time to create a social media website like Facebook for yourself.

Why would you want to create a website like Facebook?

Facebook is often described as the holy grail of social media marketing and online community building. In reality, it’s an extremely overcrowded platform that’s fraught with privacy concerns and no small amount of other issues which hinder online communities.

Reason #1. Increase engagement

It isn’t easy to get heard when you’re vying for attention alongside thousands of competing businesses and millions of users getting distracted at every turn. Engagement rates are at an all time low, and recent changes mean you can only reach around 2% of your target audience.

Reason #2. Be the one in control

When Facebook updated its timeline algorithm a couple of years ago, many brands found that their organic reach declined substantially. The fact is, you’re not the one in control. Facebook holds the reins instead.

Reason #3. Avoid unnecessary risk

With Facebook being in control, you’re at the mercy of whichever decision the company takes. If that means reducing the reach of brand pages, over-reliance on the platform can leave your community in peril, often without warning.

Reason #4. Stay relevant

Facebook is still growing, but the fastest growth can be seen in smaller communities where engagement rates are high, and content is more relevant to its target audience. By now, most successful brands have communities of their own, so you should be doing the same.

Reason #5. Keep on topic

It’s not easy to keep on topic when your moderators and community managers are spending more time weeding out the spammers and trolls than actually engaging with your members. A shift away from the major networks can help you keep on topic and deliver real value.

Build vs. buy: Why you should choose a white-label solution when creating a website like Facebook

A white-label social network is one that you own and control and aligns with your brand. It’s a purpose-built and customisable solution tailored to the unique needs of your community. By contrast, Facebook aims to be everything for everyone.

Reason #1. Launch quicker

Developing your own social network from the ground up is a costly and laborious task, and it comes with no shortage of risk. A white-label platform provides the tools and features needed to launch in a matter of days rather than months.

Reason #2. Access support

With a service-based solution, you’ll have access to prompt customer support. The software which powers your community will also be proactively updated and maintained with no extra costs incurred on your part.

Reason #3. Integrate apps

White-label software typically features a public application programming interface (API), which you can use for integrating other software and services your brand relies on, such as customer relationship management (CRM).

Reason #4. Enhance usability

While building something from scratch provides unprecedented freedom, it’s much safer to use a tried and tested solution created with user experience in mind. That’s why it’s best to have something as familiar as Facebook, yet without the drawbacks.

Reason #5. Ensure compliance

Since GDPR came into force, every platform which collects user information needs to enable privacy by design and default. But achieving compliance is no easy task if you’re programming everything from the start.

How to create a website like Facebook: 10 key steps

Creating your own social network isn’t as difficult as it might sound. Better yet, you can choose your own features and brand your community so your business, and not Facebook, remains the center of attention.

#1. Find your audience

A lot of people don’t like Facebook, but even if they don’t, that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to see the benefits of joining a niche community. Defining your target audience is the critical first step, since it will help you choose the right platform and features.

#2. Establish your goals

Establishing your goals is also essential for choosing the right platform and narrowing down your feature requirements. Ask yourself what you want to do with your social network. Is it to monetise your community, nurture advocates, provide support or something else entirely?

#3. Define your KPIs

Your key performance indicators help you track how your community aligns with your goals. For example, if a primary goal is to provide support through your community, you might want to track the number of support tickets deflected from your customer service team.

#4. Select your features

With your audience, goals and KPIs taken care of, you’ll have a list of requirements. There’s a chance you might not be able to accommodate all of them, so it’s a good idea to prioritise. Translate these requirements into platform features.

#5. Choose a platform

Now that you have a list of required features, it’s time to compare the options side-by-side and see which one most closely matches you needs. Remember though, that some platforms may need a little extra tweaking, so be sure to factor in customisability too.

#6. Customise the UX

User experience is expected to overtake product and pricing over the next few years as the single most important factor influencing customer decision-making. You’ll need to customise your platform to reflect the unique aesthetics of your brand.

#7. Upload your content

The last thing you want to launch is an empty community. A digital wasteland isn’t going to encourage anyone to sign up, so it pays to get your community homepage in order before you launch and ensure there’s plenty of value-adding content for people to engage with.

#8. Set out the rules

No community can function without rules, but there’s much more to building a healthy social network than simply laying down the law. Establish your rules with care, and communicate them in a way that drives value to your target audience and gives them a reason to sign up.

#9. Promote your network

At least in the first few months, you’ll likely spend most of your time promoting your new network. To do this, you’ll need a unique value proposition – a reason for people to sign up. You can promote your community via email, mainstream social media, and on your website.

#10. Get involved

While you’re busy trying to grow your network, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the people who are already there. It’s every bit as important, if not more so, to nurture existing members with regular involvement as it is to grow your community.

Disciple helps you create a website like Facebook that you alone have control over.

Mike Harrower in
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Mike Harrower in Community monetization
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Community monetization

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