Science and Tech Editor


What does it take to make the next big social network?

Since Mark Zuckerburg launched Facebook from his college dorm room all those years ago, social media has become a key part of our lives. Different forms of social media have spawned since, including Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok. As social media becomes a more lucrative business, I wonder how difficult it is to create your own social media platform.

A quick Google search shows plenty of tips for starting your own social media platform. These websites explain several methods to create your own social media website, making it look easy… which is unlikely.

The top tips for making a social media website are similar to that of a new business. You must know your target audience, grow your website based on that audience, and promote your social network effectively. However, a lot of them fail to mention the unique selling point (USP). The USP is vital to entice people to a new network. From my perspective, all major social networks have a unique aspect to them… apart from TikTok maybe, as I would argue it was just a rip-off from Vine. These websites seem to suggest that you can make it big by just ripping off Facebook (it might be worth the try!).

If you are a Computer Science student, you are one step ahead of us all, since you may have already guessed, a key requirement for making a new social network is having programming skills. Programming is necessary to create the fun, new aspects you are putting into the platform. It's also required to make it aesthetically pleasing. Social networks are known for their simplistic but recognisable interfaces. The top tips all suggest that there is a recognisable, but simplistic logo alongside a modest but customisable interface. These components would create a social media site which is accessible for most people.

Advertising is the next step for developing a user base. By this stage, you should have already pinpointed your target audience, but you will need to engage people further. A lot of this form of advertising is done on other apps. If you have ever downloaded a free game on your phone, you will be aware of those annoying adverts that pop up every five seconds. Advertisements on phones are the best way to do this, as it is targeting people who have the means to create accounts online. It is also extremely easy to trick the user into pressing the link to the app. It may be annoying, and slightly fishy, but these advertisements are key to developing awareness.

Awareness can also grow through social media influencers. Again, I would not say that this is the purest way to gain attention, but they do have far-reaching circles and can develop a lot of attention. TikTok gained a lot of its attention through the influencers that gained following on it and through celebrities joining the app. It can cost a lot to get an influencer to advertise something, so it would be better for them to join organically. However, if you have a spare £20,000 or you are a three-times removed cousin from Addison Rae’s best pal, then you may have a shot.

A lot of the big apps that we can think of were not created to be the next big thing. Often, they are simply an odd project by somebody with alternative motives. Trying too hard to be on-trend is often the downfall of big projects, so if you are wanting to create a social media site, you may just want to target it to your friends… it can always expand from there.

It is worth trying to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, but it’s certainly not an easy task.


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