How to build a social network website from scratch and gather more than 1 billion users like TikTok | .wrk
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In 2004, the emergence of MySpace marked the beginning of the era of social networks, which became a part of life for almost all Internet users. For almost 20 years, social networks became platforms with huge opportunities and functionality: now they are not just forums for communication, but full-scale systems with messengers, a feed with text, graphic, audio and video content, the functionality of an online store, and some even provide public state services. All in all, social media is a great tool for both ordinary citizens and businesses. Here's why the information about how to make a social networking site can be useful to you.
A huge number of people use social media for a large amount of time. According to various estimates, the time spent using these platforms is on average from 2 hours a day, and in some countries this value reaches up to 4 hours. Meltwater research says that more than 4.5 billion people, about 60% of the world's population, use social networks, and every social media user has 7 accounts on average. Facebook alone is used by about 3 billion people each month, more than the current population of China and India combined (~2.8 billion people), and YouTube is used by about 2.5 billion people. In 2019, the social media market was valued at $192 billion, and it could grow to nearly a trillion dollars by 2026. And all of these values continue to grow every year, so it looks attractive to build a social website now.
In this article, we go into detail about how to make a social networking site, what it can consist of and what its advantages are, as well as understand how to create a social network website: from finding the right type of social network and target audience to choosing a technology stack.

What is a social network website?

In the initial understanding, a social network was a website where users could exchange messages and multimedia content with each other: pictures, audio, video, texts and other documents. Over time, the concept of «social network» quickly became broader and began to include many other types of websites and applications, such as dating websites, image and video hosting, websites for educational needs, informational social networks, i.e. Tinder, Youtube, Pinterest, ResearchGate, StackOverflow and Reddit services can also be safely considered as examples of social networks, because they somehow fulfill the main purpose of exchanging content between users.

Types and examples of social networks

To understand what functionality a social network can have, we will look at several types of websites and understand what they are made for.

Types of social networking websites

Social networking websites

Obviously, this is the most popular type of site for communication between users, which prioritizes the task of connecting users with each other, exchanging messages, files and information between them. Actually, these functions used to be and still are performed by emails, but social networks offer a faster and more flexible service: you can send videos, photos and record voice and video messages. Moreover, social networks offer great opportunities for brands as well, which can help in promoting products and services. Examples of such social networks are Facebook, X(Twitter) and Instagram.

Professional networks

These sites are a bit similar to the first type of social networks, only in this case, they need a specific target audience: professionals from different industries. People can chat about professional topics here, offer and accept job offers, and schedule work meetings. If you're familiar with LinkedIn, you probably know what professional social networks are like.

Customer feedback services

These social network websites allow users to leave feedback about some goods and services they purchased. They can share their own opinion and rating with other people, and companies will be able to build the reputation for their brand through customer feedback. According to statistics, 95% of users study reviews before buying a product, and more than half of customers agree to pay more for products and services with high ratings and good reviews. Yelp and Tripadvisor are vivid representatives of feedback services.

Business networks (private social networks)

Corporate networks are a kind of private social network where representatives of one company can communicate with each other. Most often these are some resources for internal use, which are available only through the corporate network and which give access to messenger services, data storage, directory with work information and much more. Sometimes such networks can grow to full-fledged Intranet services, which are practically no different from full-fledged social networks, except that it is used only within one company.

Dating apps

A very popular type of social network that brings people together the opportunity to have romantic relationships. People can find each other and owners of such apps can monetize such popular services quite well (kind of a mutual help). Tinder is a great example of a dating app that has managed to do a lot in the fight against loneliness.

Informational networks

Informational networks are somewhat similar to regular forums: users create topics and this starts a discussion where users can learn something new and get answers from experts in a particular field. If you add a few social networking features, you can get a full-fledged informational social network, like Quora, Tumblr or Reddit, as well as a more specialized one, like StackOverflow.

Benefits of social networks

There are a lot of pretty good reasons behind the popularity of social media, which makes it easy to understand why businesses need to create them. Let's take a look at a few of the benefits of social media and what it can provide to businesses and users.

A handy tool for socializing and finding friends of interest

Social media has recently become a great way to communicate with people who are far away: overseas, in another city, or simply long distances from each other. During the coronavirus epidemic, social media was the solution that allowed you to keep in touch from a distance and not go crazy from loneliness.
Moreover, you can easily find friends who are passionate about the same things as you with the help of social media. Earlier you had to look for meetings of people by interests in your city or somewhere nearby, and now everything became much easier, as everything moved to the Internet, where you have an opportunity to share your interests with a person even from the other side of the planet.

Improved brand promotion

Over the past decade, social networks became not only platforms where users can share messages and pictures of cute animals with each other, but also great platforms for commercial activities: for selling goods and services, advertising brands and much more. Companies can create their pages and start interacting with their potential customers. And users, who can learn about companies in ways that are accessible to them, will come to those companies. All of this is cost-effective for both the companies coming and the social media owners, as we'll discuss next.

Low cost for companies and good profit for the social network

Experience shows that social media promotion is cheaper for companies than other marketing campaigns. Companies most often start with small investments to assess the audience and build a promotion strategy, and then start investing large sums once they find the right type of customers. This way, companies will have confidence in your platform and will regularly invest in promotion from you.

Low cost for companies and good profit for the social network

Social networks solve the problem of finding potential customers, which most companies face, through individual interaction between company representatives and the customer. Platforms allow for a more flexible and personalized approach, whether the customer needs advice or needs to respond to a complaint.

How to build a social media platform from scratch

As mentioned above, social networks come in different forms, as they can be designed for different purposes. And depending on the chosen content, goals, audience, monetization method and other aspects, one or another functionality for the future social network will be chosen. It is important to realize that the creation of a social network is a long process that will require a large number of resources, but all this pays off with high involvement of users and companies. Let's take a look at the stages of creating a social media website from scratch.

Steps of social media platform building

Prototyping a social network

There are several things that need to be done before you start developing a website. Without a plan and prototype of the future web platform, its creation will be meaningless and may not coincide with your ideas and goals. In order to develop a social network project, you need to fulfill several steps.

Concept development

A social network should attract users with something, so it is important to think about the concept, what special the social network will have, what is its idea and what is its value for potential users. At this stage it becomes clear what your audience will do, what data will be exchanged and, ultimately, what type of social network you need.

Analyzing the target audience

An important thing in the development of a social network project is to analyze the audience that will use your product. Determining the main features of your future users, their needs and interests will allow you to make the right decisions on the implementation of chosen functionality in your product.
There are several ways to determine the target audience of a social network:

  • You can conduct a full-fledged study of a large group of people using a variety of criteria: basic ones like age, gender, and location, as well as deeper ones like behavioral traits, values, and different kinds of problems they face.
  • There's a more expensive way to analyze your audience that involves having a finished MVP of your product: direct testing, where a small test group is asked to use your product and give their feedback. Further decisions about product development and refining the target audience will be made based on the results.

Choosing a revenue model

Social networks are perfect for monetization and there are several options here on how you can profit from your product:

Revenue models
  • Advertising on the website or app. Although ads were created a long time ago, it is still the most popular way of monetization. With a large number of users, placing ads on a website can attract a lot of money, and when designing a social networking project, it is important to consider where and how ads will be placed on your website.
  • Promote companies and famous bloggers. Paid content promotion is another popular method of monetization. You profit from companies and users who want big reach on the site, and creators get prominence for their content at the top of the page and great view rates from users.
  • Paid features. The basic functionality of a social network should be provided for free, but if you have some competitive functionality and some other services of excellent quality, they can be offered to users for a fee. This is how a YouTube Premium subscription works that allows you to watch videos without ads.
  • Paid content. Your platform may also have the functionality of a music or movie and TV series streaming service, and access to exclusive content can also be offered to users for a fee.
  • Subscription to use the product. Sometimes it happens that your social network as a whole offers quality and professional services that require payment for usage. For example, you have the best AI services in the world and you want to monetize it. In such a case, you can introduce a paid subscription for using the product.


Now that you gathered all the necessary data, you need to make a detailed plan of action. This is necessary to do since you are developing a social network, which is a complex and feature-rich product that will require a lot of time and resources. It should include the following parts:

  • a developed concept with the chosen type of social network, target audience and revenue model;
  • a plan for further development after the product is on the market.

According to this plan, a roadmap is drawn up, which shows all the stages of how to make a social networking site. This approach is effective and flexible, because it can be edited over time, and its implementation can significantly save time and resources for product creation, support and promotion.
Making a plan and roadmap can seem complicated and confusing the first time around, so feel free to ask us to put them together. We are ready to help you with that during consultations.

Social network development

Once you developed the work plan and the concept of the future project, it is time to hire a development team and build the web application. Web application development consists of two phases: mockup and wireframe development, and writing the code with the infrastructure deployment.

Creating mockups and wireframes

All the information that is approved during the discussion and concept and design phase is now realized in the form of a small UX/UI prototype, which shows what the finished product will look like and how users will interact with it. Once the final look and feel is agreed upon, it is handed over to the developers for further development estimation.

Creating mockups and wireframes

Once the developers estimate what to develop in the social network, they start to build a social website in its full-fledged form, and at this point it is important to understand what functionality should be developed first, and what features can be delivered to users later. In order to make it easier for you to decide where to start developing a social network, let's list a few important features that are needed in such applications at the MVP creation stage.

Social networks features
  • Registration and login. If you want to impress users from the first seconds of using your product, make a simple registration procedure and don't require too much data at the very beginning. Creating a good user experience will also help you by integrating with other services, such as logging in with a Facebook, Instagram, X (Twitter), Google or Apple account. This allows users to log in in seconds, and not be distracted by other issues.
  • User profile. Make creating a personalized page an intuitive and enjoyable experience. A user-friendly and beautiful interface and profile editing features are the most important components that should not be forgotten here. What a user profile can include: In addition to basic information and a profile picture that the user can modify, this can include content that the author has created on a social media platform, such as text posts on Twitter, Facebook or Reddit, a series of photos or videos on Instagram, or a list of questions asked on Quora. Everything is limited only by the goals of your product and your imagination.
  • Website search. A social network is a big product with millions of users and hundreds of thousands of different companies registered, and users should be able to find each other easily, so it is important to create a full-fledged search tool with many search filters and sorting options. Sometimes a good solution is to allow users to change the address of their page so that it can be easily shared on other social networks or on a personal blog.
  • Social media posts and news. A user's post can safely be called a unit of content on social media, and they can vary dramatically from platform to platform. For example, it can be a plain text post with a picture or video like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, a large video like Youtube, or short videos like TikTok, Instagram Reels or Youtube Shorts. And if you're creating a specialized social network, like Quora, TripAdvisor, or Tinder, it's important to consider why users come to your platform and what they're looking for, and figure out what the content on your social network will look like based on that information.
  • Posts and news feed A social network is a platform where users follow events in the world, at their favorite companies, colleagues and friends. Therefore, there should be a page that collects all the news and records of users in chronological order or in order of importance and popularity. These can be posts of those accounts to which a person subscribes, or content on certain topics, which are selected by recommendation algorithms according to the user's interests. Of course, to remain relevant and interesting, all posts and news should be arranged in the order from new to old or from more interesting to less interesting. To implement the latter, it is necessary to implement advanced content analysis tools, including those based on AI.
  • Messenger. A social network will not be one if it does not have the functionality that will allow users to privately communicate with each other and share various files: audio, video, photos, texts and more. The messenger should also be able to create not only private dialogs, but also group chats.
  • Notifications. Life in social networks is happening rapidly, and there is always the possibility of missing something, so users need notifications that will inform them about new entries in the feed, messages in the messenger and much more.
  • Admin panel. Any product that is not monitored by moderators or the owner turns into a disaster and a nightmare. To keep track of what's going on in the social network and what statistics of the website's usage, as well as to delete or block accounts of unscrupulous users, you need a convenient administration panel for your employees. It will look like a service within a service that has access to a huge amount of data that the administrator needs to work with: user profiles, content, payments that are made on the platform. Administrators may also benefit from moderation tools that can detect certain violations on the website.
  • Payment for services in the social network. When you make a solid MVP, you can proceed to the introduction of additional functionality, one of which is to make payments on the website. This is how you solve the issue of website revenue and will be able to provide additional features to users according to your revenue model. Payment services require the proper level of security from your product, so take care to purchase SSL certificates or use trusted payment services like Stripe, Braintree, and payment tools from Google and Apple.

The technological stack of a social network

You probably have a question, what technologies can be used to make a social networking site, because it is a huge product that touches a large number of aspects. Of course, you can create a social media website for free by using a free and cheap website builder or CMS like WordPress if you want to create a small website or if you want to see what your ideas might look like. But when it comes to realizing a full-fledged product, creating a social media website for free can cause a lot of problems and you will have to turn to a robust technology stack.
If you want to create a social network as a web application, it is important to remember that its creation consists of two parts: frontend and backend, for each of which there are different tools and frameworks. Moreover, it may happen that you want to create a mobile application for your social network, and you will have to use more tools and human resources. You can learn about popular types of software development in detail, and we also gathered the brief information about technologies that can help you to develop a social network in the following table.

STechnological stack for social network development

Of course, your technological stack decision may not stop here, so we advise you to consult with your development team or other experts about which tools will be more suitable for your specific case, or you can simply contact us for technological advice.


Before you release your product to the market you need to make sure you have built a quality product that meets all your requirements and security needs. To do this, social networks are tested for vulnerabilities and malfunctions. To do this, QA/QC engineers create a variety of tests that give insight into the correctness of the written code, as well as the correctness of each feature of the site and application. Engineers cover many aspects and elements of a social network, so testing can be divided into several parts:

Parts of social network testing
  • Functionality testing, which checks that every function of the social network works correctly, that they are compatible with each other and that the product meets all the necessary requirements.
  • Security testing, which is necessary to make sure that all components of the product will not create problems related to information leakage. In this way, the owners of the product will be sure that the personal information of the users will be securely protected.
  • Performance testing, where it is important to check whether the site will withstand high loads, which is very important for such products as social networks, which are used by millions of people per day.
  • Interface testing can be divided into two components: checking whether the frontend and backend parts of the application work together correctly, as well as checking the usability of the product interface.

Market launch and promotion

Once your team developed and thoroughly tested your product, it is time to launch it on the market. From this point on, it is important to keep an eye on two processes: website maintenance and promotion.

Website maintenance

Social media is a big product that needs to be monitored and maintained, especially in the initial stages. Keep a close eye on user feedback and errors that occur, because this information will allow you to create a plan for further action. So what goes into social media support:

  • Bug fixes and performance optimization, which prevents errors in the operation of the social network functionality.
  • Website security control: this is an important part of website maintenance, as product updates and new features should not affect the security of user data.
  • Improving the look and feel and correcting it for all browsers: each update of the social network should be correctly displayed on all devices, and it takes time after the release of a new version of the product, so this task is also an important part of website maintenance.

Marketing campaigns

Promotion is the component that should be planned and implemented almost from the moment of idea and concept formation. There are many tools to promote products online. For example, you can create pages for your product in other social networks, especially if they are radically different from yours, or you can attract popular bloggers to promote your product, and you should not forget about SEO-optimization of your site, which will bring it to the top of search results.

Cost and time of social network development

When you think about how to make a social networking site, it might seem that this is one of the most difficult types of sites to implement and the development process is quite complicated and requires a lot of monetary and human resources. But that's not really true, because everything varies from your task. If you want to create an MVP project, it is relatively cheap, but to develop a full-fledged product and provide marketing services, you need to invest a lot of money.
The final cost of development will depend on the complexity of your social network functionality and from which country you will hire developers. Below we provide a rough estimate of the development time for the basic functionality of the social network we described above, and calculate the approximate cost of the work based on the average rate of a developer from Eastern Europe of $50 per hour.

E-learning website development time

In total, the cost of developing the MVP of the social network will be between $56,250 and $62,500. These are rough estimates of the cost of developing a simple social network, and it depends on your requirements for functionality, support, and marketing campaigns. To know the exact price of creating such a complex product as a social network, you can contact us and ask all the necessary questions.


Social networks are a promising market with huge opportunities and investments that can bring their owners huge audiences and profits. In a sense, creating such a product is a risky step, and it takes courage and full trust of the team to implement such large and serious projects. However, experience shows that such a risk is more than justified, as the audience comes within a few months, as it happened with Instagram and TikTok, followed by a big profit.
Despite the fact that a lot of social networks have appeared recently, there are still directions and niches on the market that can be occupied and offer users something interesting and unique. If you find a good development team, an efficient technology stack and intelligently come up with the concept and goals of your product and choose the right target audience, you will be able to create your special social network that will be used by millions of people.
Developing a social network requires a lot of careful decisions, which can be reached with the help of expert consultations. If you are thinking about developing such a complex product and you have questions about how to organize everything correctly and efficiently, then fill out the form on our website and we will answer all your questions and provide you with a development team to build your project.

About author
Alexander has been a part of the team since 2013 and is deeply interested in building top-notch web development products.

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