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May 30, 2023

Niche Social Media App Development: Cost & Peculiarities

May 30, 2023
Read 12 min

What do Reddit, Twitch, and TikTok have in common? They are all thriving niche social networks that are nipping at the heels of Facebook and Instagram. By 2022, the global number of TikTok users grew to 755 million worldwide and is predicted to reach a billion in 2025. As for Reddit, it has over 430 million monthly active users, which is a 30.3% increase compared to 2020.

In this article, we will explain why niche social networks are ideal places for new ideas to develop. We will also cover trends, challenges, and development costs associated with niche social networks.

What Is a Niche Social Networking Site?

A niche social networking site targets a specific segment of the population. The giants like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can no longer do this as successfully as they used to because they’ve grown too large. Niche networks allow like-minded users to connect and discuss the same interests and hobbies.

Main Types of Niche Social Networks

  • Professional niche social networks (LinkedIn, Meetup)
  • Dating platforms (Tinder, Bumble)
  • Corporate resources (Slack, Atlassian)
  • Common interests platforms (Pinterest, Ravelry)
  • University online social communities

Niche Social Platform Trends

Here are the top social media trends on niche social media platforms to follow:

  • Even more memes. According to some estimates, 75% of people between the ages of 13 and 36 share memes. Memes dominate internet culture because the human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. It is much easier to convey an idea through a picture with words than through a text paragraph.
  • A growing emphasis on video content, which has become even more popular during and after lockdown. According to Grand View Research, the video streaming industry had a market value of $42.9 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow by 20.4 percent between 2020 and 2027.
  • The power of social commerce. As reported by Insider Intelligence, over 50% of Gen Z internet users in the US attribute their recent fashion purchases to social media content.
  • The importance of being authentic. The younger generation places a high value on authenticity when deciding which brands to support.
  • Excellent customer service. As SproutSocial reports, 68% of consumers believe that social media provides them with the means to interact with brands and companies.

User Statistics Trends

Let’s look at the user statistics of two popular niche social networks: LinkedIn and Pinterest.

  • LinkedIn — an online platform that connects the world’s professionals. As of the end of 2022, it had more than 900 million members in 200 countries and regions.
  • Pinterest — a discovery engine for finding ideas such as fashion styles, recipes, and home design inspiration. As of 2023, the platform has over 400 million monthly active users, compared to 204 million in the 3rd quarter of 2017.

Reasons to Make Your Own Social Media App

  • People want to belong to exclusive communities. Mainstream social networks often fail to provide a sense of belonging and are frequently rife with negativity. In contrast, closed communities offer opportunities for self-expression, collaboration, and creativity. Members can connect with others who share similar interests and open up on a personal level. This trust can help businesses forge stronger relationships with their audiences.
  • You need the opportunity to make specific offers. The source of income is specialized advertising or personalized offers to your customers. Your platform brings together people with a common interest, so it is easy to offer them services or products they may be interested in buying. In addition, you have the opportunity to cooperate with big brands in your field and offer them exclusive contracts.
  • You’d like to sell/offer more. By gathering people according to their interests, you can achieve higher engagement rates. These higher engagement rates provide more opportunities to convince potential partners to become sponsors.

How to Identify a Niche for Social Media App Development?

Identifying a niche for a social network involves research and evaluation of the idea’s potential. Look for groups of people with specific interests, backgrounds, or needs that are not being met by current social networks.

To start, research potential niches by looking at communities that are underserved or underrepresented in existing social networks and evaluate the potential for success in each niche. You may consider the size of the community, the level of engagement, any existing competition, and other factors.

Also, consider any unique needs or challenges faced by the community that could be addressed through a niche social network. Research the specific challenges that your potential users face in their daily lives and how a social network could help them connect with others who understand their experiences.

Overall, identifying a niche for a social network requires careful research and evaluation of potential communities. By considering a variety of factors and looking for opportunities to meet unique needs, you can create a successful social network that serves an underserved community.

Niche Social Network Monetization Options

Monetizing a niche social network has several options:

  • Charge users for premium features or content. This includes customization options, exclusive content, or early access to new features.
  • Run ads on the platform through a third-party ad network or direct ad sales. These ads could target specific user interests or demographics.
  • Offer virtual goods or currency to enhance the platform experience, such as virtual gifts, badges, or other forms of recognition.
  • Generate revenue through partnerships or sponsorships with brands or businesses, involving sponsored content, events, or collaborations.

To find the best solution, it’s important to consider user needs and expectations by conducting surveys, analyzing user behavior, or experimenting with different monetization approaches.

Challenges of Niche Social Network Development

Performance 

Any project with poor performance is doomed to failure. To ensure success, make sure the website loads in under 3 seconds. Mobile applications should also load and work quickly, without slowdowns. Achieving this requires the use of the right architecture and powerful technologies. The best option is to approach an experienced social media app development company that will help you with tech challenges.

Security

Users should have control over their privacy, including the ability to hide their personal data and use private and encrypted messaging.

Design and UX/UI

Intuitive design is a must. When users open your application, they should be able to instantly understand how to use it without having to figure out which button to press. Beautiful UI, with slick navigation and animation, is also crucial to make a user’s experience as pleasant as possible.

How much Does It Cost to Create a Niche Social Network?

These are 11 essential features that any niche social network may require, regardless of its focus. All estimates include development for iOS, Android, backend, and web apps.

Authorization and Onboarding

The app should prompt the user for authorization via email or phone number, and require a strong password (which may be either auto-generated or created by the user). Additionally, offering a quick sign in or app entry without signing up in the initial stages can give users an opportunity to learn more about the product. The decision to use onboarding or not should depend on the app’s specific purposes. For instance, if it’s a professional networking app (like LinkedIn), it may be necessary to collect information via onboarding. However, apps like Instagram may not require this feature.

Estimated development time: 150 hours —  350 hours

User Profile Management

Here, users need to fill in their personal information (such as their birthday and gender), write a few words about themselves, and add a photo.

Estimated development time: 80 hours —  250 hours

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Subscription Management

There are three options for managing subscriptions:

  • Subscribe to the app: Here, users can choose from various subscription options, see the associated costs, and understand that they will be charged recurrently.
  • Change subscription plan: This option allows users to switch to a different subscription plan, with the same information as for the first-time subscription.
  • Cancel subscription: Users can terminate their subscription plan at any time, depending on the terms specified.

Estimated development time: 80 hours — 150 hours

Followers/Friends

Users should be able to follow each other and have access to the list of followers. They should also be able to manage their followers by deleting them, muting them, or receiving notifications from specific users.

Estimated development time: 150 hours — 350 hours

Basic Functions

Below, we have collected all the essential functions that any social app should have.

Private Messaging

The user must be able to view a list of chats, send text messages or images, and view a list of messages that includes a timestamp and a user avatar.

Feed

The most recent posts should be displayed at the top of the page.

Posts

A user should have the ability to create a post that can contain photos, videos, text, geolocation, and tags. Additionally, they should be able to like, share, and comment on both the post and any existing comments.

Search

Users should be able to search for a single type of entity using a single criterion. Each additional criterion used in the search (such as name or location) will affect the accuracy of the search results.

Groups

A user can create a group, become its administrator, and manage other group members.

Events

Users can create events either for themselves, for all their followers, or for a group.

Estimated development time: 700-1000 hours

Integrations

Each additional integration impacts the cost. There are four types of integrations:

  • Linking to other social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Integrated applications are generally more trusted by users.
  • Integration with a service for sending push notifications and emails.
  • In the case of in-app purchases, integration with a payment gateway.
  • Map provider (e.g. Google Maps, Mapbox) to show tagged locations.

Estimated development time: 40 — 100 hours

Analytics

Adding extra analytics parameters will increase the cost. Here are several factors that may affect the cost:

  • Integration with analytics services
  • Basic Software Development Kit (SDK) configuration
  • Development, staging, and production environments

Estimated development time: 40 — 60 hours

CMS: Admin Management

  • Authorization: Administrators can log in and log out.
  • CRUD operations on administrators: Administrators can create, read, update, and delete information about other administrators.

Estimated development time: 200-500 hours

CMS: User Management

  • CRUD operations on users. Admins can create, read, update, and delete information about other users.
  • Basic sorting, filtering, and searching (by name, by email, by ID)

Estimated development time: 50-120 hours

Notifications

Users can set and get notifications about:

  • new messages
  • new events
  • likes
  • comments
  • groups.

Each new notification type increases the cost.

Estimated development time: 40 —80 hours

User Support

Users have several options to receive assistance:

  • Via a chat or a chatbot;
  • Via email.

Estimated development time: 40-100 hours

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What Team Do You Need to Develop a Niche Social Network?

  • Business Analyst. This specialist is involved in the initial stages of a product life cycle, including discovery and initial requirements analysis. Their role is to ensure the solution is correctly targeted and successfully implemented. The BA defines the application scope, works out different scenarios, and suggests improvements to the application processes. After that, the BA creates a backlog of application functions with a detailed description of each one. Communication with the client and the development team takes up a significant amount of time. The BA serves as a link between what the client wants and what the team offers.
  • Designer. As we’ve already mentioned, a good UX/UI design is one of the social media app development challenges that greatly influences the attractiveness of your niche social network.

Designers have two primary responsibilities:

  • Collaborate with the BA (the primary source of information) and the client to ensure that the final product meets the client’s expectations.
  • Create prototypes and make corrections as needed.

The cost of a designer’s work depends on several factors, for example:

  • The type of application the client wants (mobile, web, or both).
  • Whether the design needs to be responsive and if the app requires separate screens for tablet use.
  • Software architect. This specialist is responsible for designing and estimating the system architecture. They recommend the most suitable technology stack, architecture, and any third-party components required to build the system. The software architect’s responsibility is to create a detailed workload and cost estimate for each feature. A BA and software architect define the scope of the minimum viable product (MVP) – for example, social networking website development.
  • The Development Team implements the MVP approach, which means they program the product starting with the most important features. Every two weeks, new features are delivered and demonstrated to the client, and the client’s feedback is incorporated early on. Furthermore, every new feature undergoes thorough testing. In a nutshell, the team is responsible for the overall social network development, regardless of the scope.
  • Dev Ops Engineer deals with the production cloud infrastructure and going live addressing the project’s performance, security, monitoring, backup and high-availability requirements. Dev Ops Engineer deploys the product to the production cloud and publishes mobile applications to App Store and Google Play.
  • Support Team. These specialists are responsible for post-production support. Once the product is live, the team monitors production servers and logs, installs security updates, analyzes and resolves user problems, and creates and deploys patches and regular feature updates.

Summary

Niche social networks are still rising in popularity, and new ones are likely to emerge. Perhaps it’s time for you to launch the next TikTok or LinkedIn.

The total cost of social networking portal development can range from 1570 to 3060 hours, depending on whether the app is for iOS or Android, and the UI design complexity (such as custom elements and animations). For example, at Itexus, we charge a rate of $40-45 per hour for such projects, resulting in an estimated cost range of $62K-125K.

Itexus has extensive experience in social networking portal development. We understand that a one-size-fits-all policy doesn’t work, which is why our dedicated software development team provides custom solutions tailored to each client’s business needs and priorities. If you are interested in social media app development or want to create a social network website, please feel free to contact us for a consultation.

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