We’ve all seen The Social Network. Watching Jessie Eisenberg do his best robotic Mark Zuckerberg impression as he outwits and outplays his contemporaries from Harvard is entertaining, as is seeing Justin Timberlake frolic his way through investment meetings and business negotiations.
To many, that movie is the golden standard for what it would be like to build and operate a goliath of a social media site but like most films, the reality isn’t really covered.
So, many of you have been wondering, is it too late to make your own social network?
The answer is yes and no.
With incubators becoming more and more common, angel investors are lining up parallel to the thousands of aspiring Mark Zuckerbergs convinced that they have discovered the next great technological social wave.
Most, are horribly wrong. Why? They don’t understand what made Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so potent.
Many try and reinvent the wheel. They overly complicate or over incentivize every aspect of their site or product without actually focusing on who their target audience is. Facebook when it first began had the unique advantage of being in the post Myspace period of the world, where people were more likely to test out something new just because they heard someone else was using it.
Not to mention, they began by making it exclusive. They targeted Ivy Leaguers and from there branched out to other college students until they started letting anyone in. Facebook started off by having a strong foundation with a strong understanding of their audience and used them to propel their user base forward, whilst optimizing their features toward their interests.
The problem is that today, everyone is trying to replicate this process in build but not in spirit. There are many overly niche-focused products that don’t translate well to users outside of their target demographic. Facebook was specifically set up so that in time, anyone who wanted to use it, would be able to get something out of it.
If you are thinking of making a social media network, there are a few questions you have to ask yourself.
- Why would anyone use your site/app? What do you offer that no one else can and how will you make money from your user base?
- What is the best part of your idea/concept?
- What is the biggest hurdle to overcome?
If you can’t answer these questions, then it’s likely you are starting off at the wrong place. It’s definitely possible to launch an app or website that will have the same impact as facebook, but the difficulty is higher than ever because of the ceiling that facebook has put on other social media sites. To login to some websites, you have to use your facebook. While that was shunned at first because of how invasive it seemed, now, it’s a completely normal thing to do.
You have to look at why certain things are as they are, and how you can work towards changing that using your social media network.
But above all, at its base, like a black mirror episode, building a social media site is rooted in making the user need the app/website. The more they have to use it, the more reason they have to use it, the deeper the connection to your product.
You have to design it in a way that it makes them physically compelled to come back and use it for one reason or another.