How to make an app like Facebook?
Social networks have been hot over the last decade. Perhaps you want to create the next globally-acclaimed social network? Then, you should be thinking about creating a Facebook clone. After all, the most successful social network on earth today is Facebook.
So, how do you go about creating a Facebook clone?
In this article, I will reveal the ten vital lessons that I acquired from a decade of experience in managing a company that develops mobile apps. I will show you the crucial details you need to bring your app idea to a reality. You don’t have to pay a dime, just dedicate about 10 minutes to read this article. The tips that I provide here can save you a fortune.
Before I delve into the details of the 10 vital points discussed in this article, let’s start with an overview of Facebook.
Can you guess the number of users on the Facebook platform? Stats from the third quarter of 2019 shows that there are about 2.45 billion active users on the Facebook platform every single month. About the same period in 2012, the number of active Facebook users just exceeded one billion. That was when Facebook made the record as the first social network to boast of a billion users, The latest quarterly report, which is the last in 2019 revealed that 2.8 billion people actively use either Facebook, FB Messenger WhatsApp, or Instagram every month.
How to Use Facebook
All Facebook users must first register on the platform using their email address or phone number. After that, the user can create a profile and then interact with other users on the platform and add other people as friends. Facebook users can also choose to join public groups, which were created around various themes ranging from schools, workplaces, hobbies, and so on.
Facebook users can create posts to update their status. They can also create pages, groups, and send messages to other users on the Facebook platform. Besides messaging, users can interact with various applications such as games and other apps integrated with the Facebook platform.
Facebook also created a mobile app to make the platform easily accessible to users of mobile devices. Some apps such as Facebook Messenger just have the messaging feature on Facebook and packaged as a mobile app. The recent report put the userbase of Facebook Messenger at 1.3 billion active users per month. With the many apps Facebook has to its credit, the company has become one of the leading app publishers in the world based on app download.
We have successfully given an overview of the Facebook platform. Lets now delve into the intricacies of creating a mobile app like Facebook. The ten steps go below.
1. Do not start with coding right away
This is an important lesson which is going to save you a fortune -Do not start your project with coding! The reason is simple – Coding is the most expensive aspect of the project. Hiring top-notch programmers is not a piece of cake. You will be spending about $25 per hour for offshore talents and about $200 an hour if you choose to use programmers from Silicon Valley. That is why you should approach the programming task with great precision. Do your homework, know the precise design you want, the feature you need, create sketches, and try to get feedback from potential users. Follow this guide to save valuable money on your project, and avoid the pitfall of creating an app that nobody uses.
2. List your High-Level Goals
Do you know that about 5,000 apps are released in the app stores every day? With that huge number of apps in the market, to be successful in creating your Facebook like app, your mobile application needs to stand out from the crown to succeed. So, writing down your high-level objective is critical for an app in the competitive social media niche. If you do not have clear cut goals, your app will just end up as one of the numbers in the numbers in the app store. The best approach will be to use the Load Startup Method, apply the Business Model Canvas, and buy the Start Owners Manual.
Read this article to learn more.
3. Create a list of the Must-Have Features
These are the bare minimum features that you need to launch your Facebook similar app. For instance, a typical social media app has the following features.
The User Interface: Focus on creating a simple but elegant user interface that enhances usability. The platform user should be able to register and use the app without hassles.
Push Notifications: Adding a feature that enables real-time notifications from the features that the user selects can make a huge difference.
User Profile: The ability to make extensive modifications to the profile from the app interface can attract more users and retain existing ones. The pleasant experience of the app users is vital to keeping them on your app platform.
News Feed: The news feed feature allows the user to receive the latest news updates. Besides, there is a need for private, group, and public chat options.
File Sharing Feature: These days, social media apps integrate image, audio, and video content sharing features. Emojis and stickers are also becoming common, so your app some integrate them as well.
Customization: Make it easy for your app users to add, remove, or edit friends, connections, and groups.
Messaging Feature: The fact that WhatsApp and Facebook Messanger have acquired massive userbase indicates that people have a deep interest in Instant messaging. So adding instant messaging features to your social media platform will increase its popularity. These days, most IM apps also include file sharing features.
Storytelling: One of the recent evolution in social media is storytelling. The fact that more and more platforms are integrating this feature gives the impression that it has come to stay. Storytelling allows users to engage their audience by keeping them informed about important moments in their life. The users can also start a conversation based on comments on stories.
Some of the bare minimum features your Facebook clone app must have include
- User management
- Web portal for app management
- In-App communication
- Datasource Integration
- Payment system integration
4. Select Either an Android or iOS App
At this point, you need to select an operating system for your app. There is an option to use hybrid platforms to develop on both Android and iOS at the same time. But this approach makes the MVP more complicated, delays user’s understanding of the platform, and also cost-intensive. On the other hand, focusing on one platform is simpler, saves money, and easier for ongoing feature management. Android has an 80% share of mobile users, while iOS covers the remaining 20%. Android is the best choice if you are targeting a broad userbase. The platform has excellent coverage in Asia, South America, and other parts of the world. On the other hand, iOS users are more engaged and happen to have a higher earning power. So iOS is great if you are targeting such an audience.
5. Wireframe, mockup, and prototype your app
It is essential to note that wireframe, mockup, and prototypes are not the same thing.
- The Wireframe of your app is the sketch of how you want the app to look like.
- The mock-up contains colors and animated pictures.
- The prototype will allow user interactions such as pressing the buttons and interacting with the app functions.
Below are three examples showing a wireframe, mockup, and prototype.
This step is vital, it is going to help you save time and money on app development. Moreover, it affords you a learning experience. You will be able to fine-tune functions and features, and the procedure will enhance market validation. Here are a few reasons why you should design your application.
- It’s a fun experience, you love it.
- Changing the design is faster than changing code.
- Designing is more cost-efficient than developing.
- You can DIY with the design approach.
Social Network Templates
Using pre-built templates will also save you time, avoid you reinventing the wheel, and coding boilerplate tasks. Please check below a couple of social-media app templates that will benefit you.
6. Create the backend of your app
Finally, its time to start coding the app.
Do you know that mobile apps are like floating icebergs? In fact, the part that you see is significantly smaller than the one submerged under the water. In a mobile app, the user can see the part called the frontend, but the backend is hidden away from the platform users,
The vast majority of the app development will be on the backend. The backend will handle most of the tedious tasks such as generating the APIs, business rules, storing and retrieving data, and many more. There are two major options for creating your application backend. You can use Backend as a Service (BaaS), or code your backend from scratch.
BaaS – Backend as a Service Platforms
Opting for the Backend as a Service Platform is an excellent way to get your backend up and running in good time. This type of service automates some essential tasks such as authentication, social login, data backup, among many others. Some of the major advantages of using a BaaS are:
- Increased Speed: Expedite the time to market.
- Reduced Cost: Minimize the cost of backend development.
- Server Infrastructure: BaaS service provider takes care of the infrastructure.
Two vital advantages of using BaaS is the reduction of cost and expediting the time to market. To know more of how a BaaS creates value, please read the article below:
Here are some Backend as a Service providers you can consider for your app project.
- Back4app ( This is our company, kindly consider it first)
Read the article below for more information about how you can make massive savings using backend as a service.
Although using a custom backend gives you the advantage of flexibility. However, the cost of getting a custom backend server up and running is relatively higher compared to BaaS. Besides, it also takes a longer time to complete development and launch your MVP.
7. Code your app frontend
One of the vital factors that determine the success of an app is the frontend of the application. The appearance of our app must be clean, attractive, and also have functional features. However, you will have to decide between developing a Native, Web, or Hybrid Mobile app. Native apps are keenly integrated into the operating system of the mobile device. More often than not, it requires access to hardware and operating system functions. The benefit of this type of app is that they are fast, can work without the internet, and have excellent visuals. Web apps neither access the hardware nor core functions of the operating system. Needless to say, web apps have limited functions. The main advantages of web apps are the low cost of development, fast development speed, and it needs no special user requirements. Hybrid apps are native apps that have a web view running within the app.
See the image below for a highlight of the main differences between these three kinds of apps.
I will personally choose a Hybrid app for developing an MPV. Here are my reasons.
- It is easier to streamline the development for both Android and iOS
- It is more cost-efficient as opposed to native apps.
- The user experience is superior to web apps and can work offline
8. Design the App’s Landing Page
The app landing page is an essential aspect of your mobile app project. It serves as a platform for displaying the value that your app provides to the user. The goal of the landing page is to inspire your landing page visitors to download your mobile app. Landing pages also increases the credibility of your app and brand. It provides information about the developer and the goals they want to achieve with their mobile app solutions.
9. Establish an App Analytics Dashboard
Your apps analytics is vital to your app development project because it gives you access to vital metrics that allow you to improve your app. That is why you have to keep an eye on your mobile app. From the analytics dashboard, you can see how the user interacts with the application and the actions that they perform. The insights derived from these data will help you improve existing features, add new ones, and remove the features that proved to be irrelevant.
Another vital function of analytics is that it helps you keep track of your goals. It presents vital KPIs such as the number of downloads, active users, revenue, and many more. The data derived from your live application is arguably the best resource for optimizing your app.
10. Publish your app
Now, you are ready to publish your app. The procedure of publishing your app on Google play is simple. Posting in the App Store is a bit more complicated.
The guidelines for publishing in both stores are listed below.
Google Play Store
- Create a Developer Account
- Pay a one-time registration fee of $25 only.
- Your single account can publish multiple apps.
- Add Title & Description for the App
- Add the App’s Screen Shots
- Specify content rating
- Choose the app category
- Upload SDK
- Define the app price
The apps submitted to the Play Store are approved automatically without manual censorship. They usually get published in less than three hours.
- Create a Developer Account
- Pay a $99 annual subscription fee
- Pass on App Store Guidelines
- Test to make sure the app has no bugs and does not crash
- Upload your app
- Submit the app for official review. Your app will be reviewed manually.
- Wait for two or more days for approval.
The tasks required to create a Facebook clone is not easy. It places a demand on your time, financial resources, and careful planning to create an app project. Don’t forget that it is essential to first create high-level specifications before you start coding the app. After that, you can design the application and search for developers. Once you are sure that there is good demand for your product, select an operating system, and get to work on your MVP.
What is your opinion? Would you love to create an app like Facebook? Or do you have another app idea? Let us know in the comment section below.