Social media networks are created to connect people from different spheres and locations. But sometimes they serve another purpose – people find companions according to their interests and occupation. Such a network can become popular to groups of people with common challenges that need to be overcome. They are willing to gather, share experience and resolve the issues. The question is – how to develop a network where people will find the environment they are looking for?
The difference between specialized and non-specialized networks
General social media are created mostly for communication purposes. Any news sharing spreads the message around the world. All such networks are similar to each other but differ slightly, mostly by the type of created content. Community creates content and others evaluate its benefits and quality.
Specialised social media networks can require integration of features, uncommon for general social media. This may include various achievements, e-commerce plugins integration, specific classification, and sorting. In other words, the functions will be defined by the aim and purpose of the network.
How to create a network
There are two ways to create a network, including specialised ones – the first is to use ready-made solutions, and the second being to develop a custom framework. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Frankly speaking, they are similar to any comparison of ready-made and custom development: development period, cost, customization, and scalability. Most of the market platforms are good for small products or their initial life phase. All limitations may be revealed later and become a real problem for further evolvement.
The most popular ready-made platforms for social media creation: BuddyPress, PHPFox, EvoqSocial, Oxwall, Social Engine, Dolphin.
The most of custom development cases include Node or PHP framework and its constituents: Lavarel, YII2, Symphony, Codeigniter, and others.
The main steps of network creation
To create an effective product it is necessary to plan each step beforehand. That will help to calculate all possible risks and describe the ways to deal with them.
The process of social media network development is based on the following steps:
- Idea confirmation;
- Planning and documentation conclusion;
Any social network is based on concepts and general ideas. The specialised ones depend more on the idea. The necessity of such an idea should be checked even before the initial planning phase. The challenges of a large group of users can be consolidated and resolved in the product. The best situation appears when a creator faces the same problems and strives to overcome them. In such a case they would understand their target audience in the best way.
Planning and documentation
Planning and concluding the documentation according to the plan helps to avoid costly losses in the future. If each step is documented, it should be done in a particular way. This includes not only technical documentation but also financial and legal. As far as the social network is connected with gathering data about various users, it should include policies about processing of such data. They should be concluded beforehand to be implemented in code in the correct way with proper timings. Specialised social media can concern nonstandard aspects, e.g. financial, that also have their accountable peculiarities.
The development period will depend on the scope and purpose of such a social network. It starts with 2 months of creativity to receive a well-designed product.
The architecture of such a product should be clearly structured. It includes interconnected modules of the site, database, core, and additional functional modules. The large arrays of data should be operated simultaneously and effectively. The properly built structure will ensure such serviceability. Different access rights should be divided during this step. This will ensure internal informational security.
Stress load testing is crucial for product serviceability. This stage defines the maximal load that will be handled by the social network. The best option would be when a particular test is created and performed for the specific functional feature. Especially in the cases when the integration of outer functions is implemented. That will ensure the stable operation of each module of the product and its integrity.
The starting point of a social media network requires a broad marketing campaign. It is necessary to reach at least an audience of 10 000 – 20 000 people to assure a successful launch period. Some users will stay for a long period, others will leave the network. The purpose of the initial accumulation is to get the starting amount of engaged users. They will become the core group of the social network and can be granted wider rights.
What is special in a specialized network
Social media network is a consolidation of users that are interested in a particular topic or field of life. Taking into account the purpose and scope of such a network, it can be created by using ready-made solutions or custom development. The development of a specialised network differs in connection with the following:
-strict architecture due to the large number of additional complementary modules;
-testing should also cover such additional functions;
-creation of the network takes longer, as the idea is not common and sometimes requires non-general decisions.
Even with all restrictions and hurdles, such networks can become more viable and longer-lived compared to other ones. The core of such a network is a group of engaged users who would sustain the value of their little world.
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