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In October of 2021, Facebook has reached the number of almost 2,89 BILLION active users worldwide. It’s almost as many as China and India's joint population - and it will definitely not stop on that level!


How Much Does it Cost to Develop a Social Networking App


For my generation (I was born in 1994) social media is something that I cannot imagine a life without anymore. Yet at the same time, in a contrary to the Gen Z - I still remember the times, when the Internet was not so accessible and Facebook was only for those “cool kids” from high school. So I’ve experienced both sides of it - life with no social media at all and one when they are dominating our reality.

Overall, despite all of the negatives that social media brings I strongly believe that they are one of humanity's best inventions. Why? Let me explain that for example. I will also describe in this article the importance of social media apps in modern society and how much does it cost to develop a social media app in our Cracow - based software house.

Let’s get to it!

Social Networking Apps Advantages:

Do you remember the times when to contact your family from vacation you needed to look for the nearest public phone and use some coins to speak with them for a limited amount of time? It was called “impulses” and they always ended in the worst time possible. I perfectly remember those times. 

In the social media app era - this kind of issues sounds ridiculous, so let’s dive in deeper in this software solution main advantages:


01 Social media make communicating with your close ones much easier

No doubt, the main advantage of social media is that they connect us with other people. Just a few years back, if you wanted to be up-to-date with your family & friends' life, you had to call them or meet with them in person. Now all you need to do is enter your social media app and type them a message through the communicator. OR - you don't even have to do that if you don't want to! A quick scroll over their profiles will tell you what's going on with them lately.


02 Social Media apps help to save telecommunications costs when abroad

I see that as a pretty big social media advantage. Sure, Skype-enabled that feature before, but the necessity to teach my parents how to set up an account here and use it just to call me from abroad this one time a year they’re traveling - nope, that is too much effort. So I’m glad that social media enables that functionality! Now I don’t have to worry, how expensive calling my friends and parents is, as long as I’m on my Wi-FI, I’m fine! Nowadays, we are all social media users. In a world where many people live in different countries than their families and friends - that’s a pretty big benefit.


03 Social media enable you to find new people with similar interests worldwide

The times have changed - now, we’re not “stuck” being friends with people only geographically close to us. On the contrary - if we feel isolated and not understood by people from our closest social circles, nothing stops us from looking for some friends on the entire other side of the globe! That’s exactly what the Frindow social app is trying to prove, but I will tell you more about this application lately.


number of social media users in USNumber of social network users in the United States from 2017 to 2025 (in millions)


04 Thanks to social media, you can find the love of your life through dating apps

This part is a bit similar to finding people with the same interests. But let’s be honest - finding true love is much harder to achieve than meeting someone who just likes to watch Stranger Things over and over as you do. Technology and sociology trends are changing very rapidly when it comes to how we are finding our partners! In comparison to 1995, when only 2% of people found their love online, in 2017, this number rose to 39%. And despite any scientific data not available (yet), I’m pretty sure that now this number is even higher because I find out it is one of the most important trends in the post-pandemic world.

05 Social networks are a great source of knowledge & fact-checking tool

Today's traditional media (newspapers, TV, radio) & businesses have a truly hard time. Why? Because we are more capable of checking the information they feed us. Personally, when I'm thinking about going to a restaurant, the first thing I do is opening a Facebook app and checking their ratings & reviews. Why? Because I don't entirely trust the restaurant's content on their page - as I know that their owners can write anything they want here. But social media reviews & opinions - that is something they (usually) cannot control. I also follow on my social media people, whose opinions I trust and whose lifestyle and values are similar to mine. You can call them influencers if you wish.

I personally trust them far more than I trust politicians, journalists, or salespeople, and most of my peers and younger friends think the same. And we’re not kids anymore - we are in our 25+ and soon, we will become one of the biggest consumer groups worldwide, if we’re not already one. So don’t underestimate us!


06 Social media apps have a high Return of Investment (ROI) indicator

From a more business side of view, social apps just make a lot of money. By the end of 2020, Instagram is forecasted to hit almost 7 BILLIONS $ of the revenue! So if you are wondering about creating an application with a high monetization potential - you should definitely consider making a social one! As companies start to notice that Facebook and Instagram ads are becoming more and more expensive, they are looking for some other social platforms where their target audience is. And when they will find them - they won’t hesitate to invest in paid promotion there!

Those 6 advantages are just the tip of an iceberg. And of course, I'm not blind - I see the negatives of social media apps as well. Especially considering their influence on younger generations. I might dedicate a separate article on that topic one day. Nevertheless, I hope that I convinced you that social media app development could be profitable. So, let's take a closer look at app development cost.


How much does it cost to develop an app?

Ok, let's start from the top. To find out the actual price of a social networking app, we need to discuss how much, in general, the custom software costs. And I'm sure you are all tired of reading: it depends. So we will try to be as specific as we can but yeah, in general - you are asking us to tell you how much will be building you a home cost. Imagine asking that question to a construction company: 99 % of them will tell you that they can't give you a price before asking a bunch of additional questions. And that 1% that won't ask you anything and just start building - that's NOT someone you want to have your dream home built by.

But we get it - we're building homes for centuries, yet software for decades only. You have a right to at least vaguely know how much money you should have to build your dream app.


The cost of app MVP

At Railwaymen, we can build a very basic version of your application (it is called MVP and you can read more about it here) for around $20,000 - $30,000. Yet you have to be aware that this is the price for building an app when you have your software documentation ready, monetization strategy set up, market research is done, etc. Basically everything from this list.

There is one additional thing that you might not know about app development and that's okay (custom software is a VERY fresh thing on the business market). That thing is that the app idea alone is not enough to develop your application. Software houses that don't require from you ANYTHING more than a few sentences on what you want to build are like those 1% construction companies mentioned before. They don't care about your app's success at all. They will make you some app from the template and be surprised that you & your users don't use it. Well - how can my users like it, when you didn't even bother to ask me who they are? Exactly.

The secrets of successful social media app


How Much Does It Cost To Create a Social Network App?

In this article, I will focus on custom app development cost. When it comes to a specific price of a social network app development - we will reveal its cost basing on an example of our recent client Marcus Hamilton and his app Frindow. The idea behind this specific social app is to connect people who, for multiple reasons, feel isolated from society. People with disabilities. Seniors without stable Internet access. People under lockdown because of the Coronavirus pandemic.



The app mission is as follows:


Our mission is to be a central hub for all things that can help you to make new friends and get connected. We recognize that people need to connect for different reasons. Frindow offers a place to start.

If you want to know more about the idea behind the app, and how Marcus found his niche you should read his blog here. Because you can't build a social media app based on your idea only but at the same time - without a good idea (not innovative or breakthrough - just the one that solves some people's real-life issue), you're not gonna succeed as well. You can read more about how to find & validate your app idea here.

We have started the Frindow app development process in April 2019. The team composition looked as follows: 1 x Project Manager, 2 x Ruby on Rails Backend Developers, 1 x Frontend Developers, and 2 x Quality Assurance Specialist. You can read more about software development roles & each person's responsibility here

Basing on the information from June 2020, after the app first release, the main functionalities look as follow:
  • Video Chat - some of the social media platforms users don't feel comfortable typing their messages on the keyboard (example: seniors). That's why the app enables you to communicate with your network through video conversations! Seeing someone through your camera raises the level of closeness you feel with that person, so this functionality becomes one of the app's most important ones.
  • Proxy user & split accounts - this solution definitely helps when you are dealing with users who have got limited technological access. For example, you are under lockdown in your family home and want to find someone who struggles with the same situation. You create the account and establish connections as yourself. Then, your grandma sees what you do and she also wants to meet some new people. But she doesn’t have an email address. For most of the other social mediums - that would be a serious blocker. Frindow is a social media platform that allows you to create an account for your grandma INSIDE your account!
    That way, you can search for some friends for your grandma, and when she finds someone interesting put them together on a previously mentioned Video Chat OR - connect them outside of the app. Even outside of the Internet entirely! Just make a good old phone numbers exchange. That way, your grandma has been enabled to find someone, whom she can communicate with using the technology she is already familiar with!
  • Groups - pretty standard social media solution. You can create communities around specific topics, yet the Administrator has got to approve the group. What’s special here is that when creating an account, you have been automatically signed to some groups by the algorithms. It helps to find the right groups for users, who feel a bit lost and don’t know, what kind of groups would suit them best.
Frindow app development project
  • Get-Togethers - unfortunately, this specific feature has been temporarily turned off due to the lockdown. Yet the idea of Get Togethers is to connect users online and then - redirect them to meet in real life. Pretty unique in comparison to other social media, that try to keep you inside of their apps as long as they can, right? That’s because Frindow truly cares about you and finding your friend and always puts it as it’s a priority.

We already have a comprehensive case study of Frindow application. We described there the whole process of product development. So if you find this social media app interesting, you can take a deeper dive into its functionalities: Frindow - Social Network App for Those Who Feel Lonely and Isolated

How much does it cost to develop a social media app like Frindow?

Now as you know the app main functionalities, the team structure, and the development timeline it’s time to give you the price. So based on our Frindow experience, building an advanced social networking app costs around $120,000 - $150,000. At least this is the quota that you will get in our software house. Some other companies may charge more, some might less - nevertheless, this the opinion that Marcus left about our cost-efficiency:


Frindow app development project


Why, instead of a certain amount of money, have we given you a range? Because we don’t make copy-paste applications. We don’t have a template for social media app development that allows us to change the application name and present it to another client. Our software is 100 % custom, and the app functionalities may vary greatly depending on what you want to achieve, who your target audience is, and the technology stack. Bear that in mind because, depending on your project, the cost estimation might be bigger or less. As best just contacts us - and we will tell you how much your app will cost.


How much does it cost to create an app like Facebook?

If you have been a careful reader before you should know, that these kinds of questions are almost impossible to answer. I wonder if Mark Zuckerberg himself knows exactly how much did creating Facebook & maintaining it cost him in general? ;) There are just too many variables and things that are INSIDE of the code that we as regular users don’t see to make estimating the total cost of the app possible.

That’s why if you plan to approach a software house with an idea to create “a second Uber Eats, but for flowers delivery!” - you probably don’t actually want that. For example, UberEats app has got inside many functionalities connected with food delivery that flowers don’t need. So why would you want to pay for some features that were designed to avoid the food getting cold? Yeah, I hope you get the absurd here.


If you have been a careful reader before you should know, that these kinds of questions are almost impossible to answer. I wonder if Mark Zuckerberg himself knows exactly how much did creating Facebook & maintaining it cost him in general? ;) There are just too many variables and things that are INSIDE of the code that we as regular users don’t see to make estimating the total cost of the app possible.  That’s why if you plan to approach a software house with an idea to create “a second Uber Eats, but for flowers delivery!” - you probably don’t actually want that. For example, UberEats app has got inside many functionalities connected with food delivery that flowers don’t need. So why would you want to pay for some features that were designed to avoid the food getting cold? Yeah, I hope you get the absurd here.


Your app idea comparison to something already existing is great, to vaguely explain to us what you want to achieve. But it’s not enough to start the web or mobile social media app development. If for some company it is, then well - red alert once again.


How can I create my own social network?

Once you know how much it costs to develop social media application, I am sure you are wondering how to create it. Well, digital product development is a time-consuming and comprehensive process. It requires not only coding but also knowledge about user experience. I believe that there are 3 best ways to develop your own social networking app:


#1 Create a social media app by yourself

If you are an experienced full-stack coder that knows the basics of UX Design then MAYBE - you will be able to do a very simple social app by yourself. It might take you years but it is not impossible. Just bear in mind, that what Mark Zuckerberg made by himself was just a simple student comparison app, gathering data just from few universities. It’s hard to even call it a social app - it took him years and an experienced team to make Facebook what it is today.


#2 Hire freelancers that will develop social media platform

For simpler projects, where you have all your business plan ready and you feel capable to manage them efficiently, that solution might actually work. Check the details: Freelancer vs Software House comparison here.


#3 Choose a software house that has experience in social media app development

We’re not gonna be falsely modest - we’re that kind of software house. Besides already mentioned Frindow, we’ve also developed a My Sober Roommate social app. The app owner is a regular Psychology Today publisher. Based on the studies he discovered, that people are most likely to recover from their addictions if being surrounded by others who ale also sober. That’s how the idea was born and currently, My Sober Roommate is still live connecting people looking for some flatmates in the USA, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

My SoberRoomate - example of social media application

Currently, we are working on a mobile dating application. I can not reveal too much about this project because it is still in the development phase. But I can tell you that we are implementing some exciting features like, for example, a matching algorithm. Many social media platforms are basing on that kind of solution. As you can see, we are gaining more and more experience and knowledge about social media app development.

Social media app development cost - Conclusion:

We all need human contact. Yet by rushing through our lives we often forget about it, pushing finding some friends and love for this unknown “later”. While doing it we tend to oversee truly lonely people - our parents, grandparents, or friends from high school, that have a hard time living as adults all by themselves. That’s why social networking apps have got such huge potential. We can live without another TV series - but we CAN’T survive psychologically without others.

When it comes to the app development cost, we can create a very basic version of the app (MVP) for about $20k - $30k, and it will take us around 3 months. Building a complex application similar to Frindow will cost around $120k - $150k.

As a software house with vast experience with app development, we recommend creating an MVP first. Whether you want to build a web or mobile social app, it is a much more safe way of product development. Thanks to this approach, you will launch a product, check how users react to it, and implement features that they want.


In our portfolio, you will find 3 great examples of social networking apps. So if you are wondering about creating an application that will have a real impact on other people's lives - check our service:

Let's build unique social networking software together!