What does it really take to create a social network website or app of your own?
It’s probably a lot easier than you think.
Some of the early social networks took years to develop. Roll on 2020, and we now have social network software that gives you everything you need to get started right out of the box. Yes, it really is that easy!
And, here’s why you need to create your own social network:
- Connect with your audience wherever they are
- Learn more about your customers
- Give your community a space where people can help each other
- Increase the reach of your services with live online events
But let’s take a few steps back for a moment. While it’s true that almost anyone can launch a social network these days, building one that works for your brand requires a little more thought.
Let’s take a mental health charity for example. Most people don’t want to discuss sensitive matters on an open platform like Facebook. Instead, they prefer a safe community space where they can talk with others they can relate to. Or, in another case, imagine an education or training community where people can learn together without the distraction of constant advertising. Social networking software can make it happen.
So, let’s take a look at how to do it the right way.
Step #1. Explore your existing networks
This might sound counterintuitive, but if you want to create a social network of your own, the best place to start looking for inspiration is in your existing networks. Find out how your fans and customers are already engaging with your business on social media. Are they looking for support? Maybe they’re looking for special offers or updates. Or, perhaps they just want to connect with other customers who they have something in common with. Then, you can explore how creating your own social network can make their experience even better.
If you have customers, you already have a community. You might find them on consumer review sites, online forums, social networks, or posting comments on your blog posts. It’s also a great opportunity to understand the challenges they face and how your own platform could offer them something better.
Step #2. Brainstorm ideas with your team
It’s time to bring out the whiteboard! A branded social network will only succeed if it sees plenty of involvement from the business behind it. Get your team together, and talk about what you’d like to achieve with your community. You should also ask your customers for their opinions, since they’re the ones you want to bring to your social media network.
Translate these opinions into features and functions. This will help you shortlist your options and choose a solution that perfectly suits your needs. For example, a personal trainer might want to take his or her classes online. For that, they’ll need social network software that supports live-streaming.
Step #3. Choose social network software
We promised this would be easy, and we meant it.
You don’t want to go to all the trouble of reinventing the wheel if you don’t need to. But neither does that mean you have to be stuck with the big social networks. Instead, you can create a social network that’s your own, with your own branding and your own community. No more playing second-fiddle to Facebook!
Take a few of the best options out for a test drive, and weigh up the pros and cons of each.
Step #4. Customise your community
If you create a social network app or website, you can theme your community however you want. With a solution like Disciple, you shouldn’t even have to write a single line of code. Customising your community will also keep your brand on the top of mind because, after all, it’s your community.
Branding needs to be consistent. So, add your logo, customise your app icon, and choose your colours and backgrounds. In mere minutes, you have a platform that you can now call your own!
Step #5. Gather your fans
Now it’s time to get some activity in that newsfeed! Once you’ve got your team involved, it’s time to bring in your customers. It’s a good idea to announce the launch of your new social network as soon as you have a launch date, provided it’s not so far in advance people are likely to forget.
Here are some proven ways to announce the launch of your community:
- Send everyone an email newsletter
- Announce the launch on any networks you’ve used previously
- Promote it on your website and/or business blog
- Try tying it in with an existing loyalty programme or competition
- If you’re running a local business, hand out flyers and leaflets
If you have a very big community, it’s good to start with your biggest fans. Invite them to join up first, so they have a chance to help you test-run your new concept. They’ll appreciate the privilege, and their feedback will be useful for helping you make the experience even better. Once you’re ready for a full launch, don’t be afraid to go all out on your existing social media accounts and mailing lists to spread the good word!
With the right social network software, any brand can create a social network without having to learn a thing about software development. Here’s a recap of what you need to do:
- Learn what your audience wants by looking at existing networks
- Brainstorm your concept with your colleagues
- Choose a ready-made platform that you can make your own
- Apply your branding, and choose your features
- Let your fans know about it!