Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. We use social platforms to be informed, entertained, connect with new people, find new business partners, and join communities that pique our interest.
The power of connection made available via social networks is incredible, so it’s no surprise that you may be wondering how you can create your own social network like Facebook.
First, let’s explore what a social media network is.
What is a social media network?
A social media network is essentially a digital tool that allows users to quickly create and share content such as videos, blog links, event announcements, photos, and livestreams with the public across the web and mobile.
Anyone can sign up for a social media account and they can use their account to share whatever content they choose to, and the content they share reaches anyone who visits their page or profile.
While many social media companies impose limitations—such as taking down content that doesn’t match up to specific guidelines and controlling when and how often content is seen—there are much fewer limitations on what someone can share on a social network in comparison to mass communication like newspapers, radio stations, and television channels.
Why you should create your own social network
Now that we’ve covered what a social media network is at its core. You may be wondering why you should create your own social network. What’s in it for you and how will you benefit?
As popular as social networks such as Facebook and Instagram may be, there are also a lot of challenges that users face by relying on using them to build their businesses and communities.
Here are just a few:
Reach is dying
It’s getting much more difficult to reach audiences on existing social networks. Algorithms are constantly changing and News Feeds are filled with distractions such as clickbait, ads, and fake news – all of this combined makes it virtually impossible to build a real connection with your people. With organic content only reaching 1-2% of your audience on Facebook, you’re not in full control of what your users are able to see unless you’re paying for ads.
No way to monetise
One of the biggest challenges that creators face with relying on existing social networks to grow their online community is the severe lack of monetisation options available on platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. There isn’t a way to charge for access to a Facebook group for example, and there aren’t any built-in options for subscriptions, donations, or eCommerce. If you want to monetise your audience you’re left having to look for an alternative solution to house your paid members, online courses, or masterminds – this means you’re dispersing your people on multiple platforms and having to figure out how to link and automate multiple pieces of technology.
Housing your content on a third-party social network such as Facebook or Instagram means that you’re never fully in control. You will always have to play by whatever network you’ve chosen rules and have zero control over any changes they decide to make to their platforms. If the network decides to suddenly remove functionality that you’ve grown to become reliant on to build your business then you could lose your content or community virtually overnight.
Lack of customisation
Other than a cover photo or a profile picture there is very little customisation available on existing social networks. There is virtually no way for you to customise the look and feel of your community to fit your business or brand. If your brand identity is important to you, then a social network won’t cut it.
When you create your own social network, you eliminate all of these challenges. Community platforms such as Disciple provide you with all of the tools you need to reach, engage, monetise, customise, and control your audience so that you can achieve your specific goals.
Types of social networks
So, we’ve discussed what a social network is and why you should create your own social network. Let’s now discuss the different types of social networks available, so you can get some ideas on how to make your social network an amazing place that people want to be a part of.
So, the main social network types include:
- Social media networks. This is the most common – providers such as Facebook, focus on establishing connections with people you know and with people that you haven’t met in real life.
- Entertaining websites. These resources unite users around specific hobbies. This could be astrology websites or websites created for dog lovers for example, or they could even be forums such as mumsnet. People enjoy these kinds of communities because it’s a great way to find like-minded people who share similar interests.
- Educational platforms. This is specifically for people to connect around learning. Udemy is a good example of a space that people use to interact online, gain access to learning materials, and connect in a forum type setting.
- Corporate resources. A corporate social networking website such as an intranet for example can be used to improve sales, shout about team achievements, and unite colleagues across the globe.
- Professional platforms. The most obvious example of this is something like LinkedIn. A professional platform is focused on allowing professionals from different industries to communicate about business matters, interviews, and seeking or offering a job.
- Dating sites. These networking platforms are focused on helping people to find love. Platforms such as Hinge or Tinder for example.
- Information websites. Forums such as Quora or Reddit are designed to help people to find answers to their questions on a variety of different topics such as cleaning hacks to the best place to go to seek relevant information.
- Media sharing platforms. These are sites where users can exchange a variety of media content such as videos or images – Youtube, Tiktok, and Instagram are great examples of these.
Features of a great social media network
Now that we’ve discussed all of the different types of social networks available, you may be wondering what requirements and features you should consider for your own social network.
If you want to create your own social network to a high standard, the following features should be on your wish list:
- Profile. A personal profile for users to include information about themselves such as their name, location, and photo, etc.
- Posts. The ability for users to publish posts. Your users should be able to share news, information, and discuss topics with their friends or the wider community.
- Notifications. A way for people to be notified of updates or things they’ve been ‘tagged in’ for example.
- A search bar. This makes it easier for people to find groups, topics, or people.
- Friending options. Users must be able to send a friend request or be able to follow others in order to see updates in their news feed.
- News Feed. This is a central space where users can see what’s happening in the lives of the friends, people and groups they’re following.
- Chat/Messaging. This is a private messaging system that gives users a chance to chat in private mode, outside of a group for example as well as the option to comment and engage in public posts within groups.
- File uploads. The ability for users to upload media such as photos and videos for example.
- Resource library. A central space where you as the owner of the platform can store relevant content assets such as videos or PDFs so you can easily share them in relevant spaces.
- Groups and subgroups. The ability to set up a group but also to set up subgroups. For example, if your community or network is targeted to people who love photography, you may want sub-groups that focus on wildlife photography or event photography, etc.
- Moderation tools. One of the best things about having your own social network is not having to worry about random people trolling your Group or trying to defame your business. Having moderation tools such as shadow banning and editing comments on your own social network is a great way to eliminate any harmful activity.
- Livestreaming. More and more people are accustomed to watching livestreams. Having a livestreaming option should be a must. It’s a great way to instantly connect with an audience and do product or fitness demos for example.
- Customisation. The ability to customise the look and feel of your social network to fit your brand. You should be able to change colours, fonts and add your logo, as well as customising your domain name.
- Security. It goes without saying that your platform should be highly secure and provide the option for data to be owned and managed by you.
- Analytics. It’s really important for you to have access to data and analytics so you can track where your users are located, device type, and content they’re engaging with the most so that you can ensure you’re providing the best user experience.
- Admin Access. The feature is to help you and those you assign roles to, to manage the site, block unreliable users, and perform other administrative functions.
- Web & Mobile. Does your social network need to be available via web and a mobile app? Most people are accustomed to checking things on their phone as well as their desktop so having both options should be a key consideration.
- Monetisation. Do you want to monetise your social network or community? If so, having options to achieve this will be really important when creating your social network.
If you can tick the above features off your list when selecting a platform such as Disciple for example to create your social network, you’re good to go.
Steps to take to create a social network
Now that we’ve covered all of the important points. Let’s get to the juicy details of the steps to take to create a social network.
1. Get clear on your vision
The first step is to get clear on your vision for your social network. Jotting down the answers to questions like what kind of social network you plan to create, what niche you’d like to target and what you’d like to achieve will help you to get crystal clear on what your wider goals are for your social network.
2. Define Your Target Audience
Defining your target audience and understanding who you want using your social network from the beginning will help you to ensure you’ve built your social network on solid ground. There are two ways to effectively achieve this.
Online research: You can find, collect and analyse, demographics and behaviour habits of your ideal groups of people on the internet or with a quick search on Google. You can also create and send surveys to your ideal social network users to get their thoughts on what features and functionalities are important to them.
Test and learn: With this approach, you can create a social media network and then test it on real people and then get feedback from them with 30 minute interviews to figure out what you can modify and adapt.
3. List down your essential requirements
Now that you’ve figured out what you want to achieve and who your target audience is, it’s time to put together a list of essential requirements. You can jump back up and pull some of them from the ‘features of a great social media network’ list above. For example, If you’re a fitness coach, then livestreaming may be an essential need for your social network.
4. Select your choice of technology
You have two options to create your own social network. You can use a white-label solution such as Disciple that is built out of the box and which can easily be customised to suit your branding, and is available on web and mobile OR you can create a social network from scratch, the second option takes much longer to build and can be more expensive as you’ll need to hire developers and pay for hosting but both are options to get your social media network out of your head, set up and into the hands of the people who matter.
5. Promote Your Social Network Effectively
Once you’ve decided on the best option for your choice of technology and set up the logistics. The final step is to promote your social media network so you can drive people to your online community. Some quick ways to achieve this is by promoting it on your website with banners. Sharing it with your wider network via email or through your existing social media channels or even using paid ads to let people know that your community exists.
Creating your own social network is a great way to have an owned and interactive space for your community.
Here at Disciple, we help you to create your social network by taking the best features of social media and turning them into tools that allow you to gather, engage, understand, and monetise your audience. We guide you through every step of the process.
The result is a web and mobile-friendly community space on a secure, GDPR-compliant platform. Your own space in which to communicate and interact with your customers. Without all the hidden costs, complications, algorithms, and distractions of social media.