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Niche Social Network Development: Cost & Peculiarities

What do Reddit, Twitch, and TikTok have in common? They are all flourishing niche social networks that snap at Facebook’s, and Instagram’s heels. The global time spent on TikTok grew 210% in recent years and the number of monthly active users on Reddit increased 30 percent year over year to around 430 million. 

In this article, we’ll show you why niche social networks are the spaces for new ideas, niche social network trends, challenges, and development cost.

What Is a Niche Social Networking Site?

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

Main Types of Niche Social Networks

  • Professional 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 in niche platforms to follow:

  • Even more memes. According to Talkwalker, memes usage and their mentions increased from 19.8 million in August 2019 to 24.9 million in July 2020. Memes control the internet culture, because the human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, and it is much easier to get the idea from a picture with several words than from a text paragraph.
  • Emphasis on video content. It has become even more popular during and after the lockdown. According to Grand View Research, the industry had a massive market value of $42.9 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow 20.4 percent between 2020 and 2027.
  • The power of social commerce. According to Insider Intelligence, more than 50 percent of Gen Z internet users in the US say their recent fashion purchases were inspired by the content in social media. 
  • The importance of being authentic. The younger generation finds authenticity to be extremely important when determining which brands to support. 
  • Excellent customer service. According to Drift, nearly three in ten consumers use social media to communicate with a company. 

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. In 2020, the number of LinkedIn users reached over 760 million in 200 countries, with more than 260 million monthly active users.
  • Pinterest — is a discovery engine for finding ideas like fashion styles, recipes, and home design inspiration. As of the 3d quarter of 2020, the platform had 442 million monthly active users worldwide, compared to 204 million in the 3d quarter of 2017.

Reasons to Create a Social Network for Community

  • People want to belong to closed communities. Mainstream social networks don’t give a sense of belonging and are usually full of haters. Closed communities give the opportunity to express yourself, collaborate, and create. Members open up on a personal level to other people with similar interests. This trust enables businesses to build closer 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 won’t be difficult to offer them services or products they may be interested in buying. What’s more, you get the opportunity to cooperate with big brands. You get more chances to approach reputed brands working in the same field and offer them exclusive contracts.
  • You’d like to sell/offer more. You get higher engagement rates, which are natural because you gather people according to their interests. High engagement rates give you more chances to convince potential partners to join your sponsors.

Challenges of Niche Social Network Development

Performance 

Any project with poor performance is doomed to failure. That’s why make sure the website loads in under 3 seconds and mobile applications should also load and work fast without slowdowns. This can be achieved by using the right architecture and powerful technologies.

Security

Privacy should be in control of your users, who should have the ability to hide their personal data and use private and encrypted messaging.

Design and UX/UI

Intuitive design is a must. When users get into your application,  they have to instantly understand how to use it without figuring out what button to press. Beautiful UI with slick navigation and animation is also of crucial importance to make a user’s experience as pleasant as possible.

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

These are 11 core features any niche social network might need regardless of its focus. All the estimations include iOS, Android, backend, and web app development.

Authorization and Onboarding

The app should ask for authorization via email or phone number and a strong password (the password can be either auto-generated or created by the user). You can also offer a quick sign in or app entry without signing up on the first stages to give an opportunity for users to find out more about the product. Whether to use onboarding or not depends on the app purposes. For example, if it’s a network for professionals (like LinkedIn), it needs to collect information via onboarding. Apps like Instagram don’t need this feature.

Estimated development time: 150 hours —  350 hours

User Profile Management

Here, users need to fill in personal information (birthday, gender), etc.), 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 to manage subscriptions:  

  • Subscribe to the app (here you need to show the options, costs, and mention that users are charged recurrently);
  • Change subscription plan (here you need to show the same information as with the first-time subscription);
  • Cancel subscription (mention when the user’s subscription plan can be terminated).

Estimated development time: 80 hours — 150 hours

Followers/Friends

Users should be able to follow one another. They also should have access to the list of followers and manage them (delete, mute, receive notifications from a particular user).

Estimated development time: 150 hours — 350 hours

Basic Functions

Here, we’ve collected all the must-have functions any social app should have:

Private messaging

A user needs to see the list of chats, be able to send a text message or image, see the list of messages (with time and a user avatar).

Feed

The newest posts should appear at the top of the page.

Posts

A user should be able to create a post (it can contain photos/ videos, text, geolocation, tags), like, share, and comment (both the post text and other comments).

Search

Users should be able to search for one type of entity by one criterion. Each next entity used in search (by name, by location, etc) influences the estimate.

Groups

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

Events

A user can create events either for himself or for all the followers or in a group.

Estimated development time: 700-1000 hours

Integrations

Every additional integration influences the cost. There are four types of integrations:

  • Link to other social media platforms, for example, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Integrated applications are usually 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 the tagged locations.

Estimated development time: 40 — 100 hours

Analytics

Every additional analytics parameter influences the cost. 

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

Estimated development time: 40 — 60 hours

CMS: Admin Management

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

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

A user can choose between several ways to get assistance:

  • Via Chat
  • Via email.

Estimated development time: 40-100 hours

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

  • Business Analyst. This is the specialist who gets involved in the initial stages of a product life-cycle (discovery and initial requirements analysis) which help to ensure the solution is correctly targeted and successfully implemented. A BA defines the application scope, works out different scenarios, and suggests improvements to the ap processes. After that, the BA creates a backlog of app functions with a detailed description of each one. What takes quite a lot of time is communication with the client and the development team. A BA serves as a link between what the client wants and what the team offers.
  • Designer. We’ve already mentioned that a good UX/UI design is one of the development challenges that influence the attractiveness of your network. 

Designers have two primary responsibilities:

  • collaborate with the BA (the primary source of information) and the client so that the final product comes up to the client’s expectations;
  • create prototypes and make corrections. 

The cost of designers’ work depends on several factors:

  • what type of application the client wants (only mobile and web or both);
  • whether the design should be responsive and whether the app needs separate screens for a tablet.

  • Software architect. This specialist is responsible for architecture design and estimation. He/she recommends the most suitable technology stack, architecture and any third party components required to build the system. Software architect’s responsibility is to create a detailed feature by feature workload and cost estimate.

BA and Software Architect defines the scope of MVP (minimum viable product) 

  • Development Team implements MVP. It means they program the product starting from the most important features. Every two weeks, new features are delivered and demonstrated to the client, client’s feedback is incorporated early. Every new feature is thoroughly tested.
  • 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. When the product is live, the team monitors production servers and logs, installs security updates, analyses and resolves user problems, creates and deploys patches and regular feature updates.

Summary

Niche social networks are still on their rise and new socials nets are going to appear. Maybe it’s a high time for you to launch a brand-new TikTok or LinkedIn.

Total niche social network development cost ranges from 1570 hours to 3060 hours . It varies depending on whether the app iOS or Android, and UI design complexity (like custom elements and animation). For example, at Itexus, we apply a $40-45 per hour rate to such projects. In the end we get an estimate in the range $62K-125K .

Itexus has vast experience in creating socially-oriented apps. We don’t stick to a one-size-fits-all policy. Instead, our dedicated software development team offers custom solutions tailored to each client’s business needs and priorities. Contact us for a consultation if you’d like to build a niche social network.

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