The world wide web is an extremely powerful tool that allows people to communicate and connect in many ways, which wasn’t possible a few years back. You can chat with your friends on the other side of the world and easily share photos and videos.

Online social networking websites are some of the popular online destinations of people these days. These sites have attractive features that allow users to leverage the web to make a connection with others quickly.

Successful social networking websites revolve around a compelling object or activity that is the basis for a real connection. The first important consideration is to design a site that allows people to do what they want to do on their own, then the use of technology. You should have an enthralling reason for people to return to your site and pick something that is attractive for the audience you want to engage, making it easy for them to do activities.

This is a beginner’s for you to start a social networking site of your own with ease, considering all the important points to ensure success.

Defining the audience:
Huge social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. are rare success stories. They have managed to attract a large pool of audience interested in a wide range of topics across the world. You need to define your audience before starting your business. There are social networking sites that are more popular with a certain group of people.

You can even target a small niche of people and focus on a few uniting interests. By targeting a niche, you can scale up your website slowly. Starting small will allow you to your build a client base from which you can gradually grow your business. Even Facebook started off with a niche i.e. college students and scaled up into a social media network to fit everyone.

Website:
You’ll need a website to start your social networking business. Choosing to get it built from scratch would mean having to invest the time and energy sourcing the right designers and programmers. After you have sourced the right vendor, you will need to have the resources to finance for your requirements. This will also mean you will have a long design and development time frame before your social networking site is launched in the market. In addition to that, time will also be spent on doing quality assurance testing and user testing to ensure your site is working efficiently for its success.

If you want to avoid all of these headaches, you might prefer getting a website clone of popular social networking sites to replicate their success. This would mean you will have a ready-made website clone script that has already been designed, developed, tested and launched earlier. One option available is to get ProsNexus- a LinkedIn Clone script offered by MintTM to launch a social platform similar to that of a LinkedIn. They provide full customization of pre-built features, as well as custom feature development as per clients’ requirement.

Revenue models:
The next step is to decide on the revenue model of your social media site as most businesses start to earn revenues. There are various revenue models which you can consider incorporating in your site like:

  • Advertising: Online advertising is very popular these days and is a great medium to earn revenues. Leading social networking sites are primarily supported by advertising. Social networking platform like Facebook has millions of active users and marketers find it profitable to advertise on such platform and leverage the benefit of access to that enormous user base.
  • Semantic Targeting: You can leverage ad databases such as Google AdSense to monetize on user content. You’ll have to slice and analyze data in order to filter out relevant keywords which can be used for ad placements.
  • Membership Fees: There are some social networking sites that charge membership fees from audience or ask them to upgrade to avail some features like LinkedIn. There are many sites that withhold key features from users until they choose to upgrade to a premium account.
  • Sponsored Content: One of the key revenue drivers for Facebook is sponsored stories which are promoted posts by brands or marketers. The larger and more vibrant your community, the better your revenue opportunities are there in this area. This sort of advertising is particularly interesting for location-based services.
  • API: You can offer premium access to your API for other developers to create apps based on your technology. Facebook’s preferred developer program is a well-known example of such an approach.

Marketing and engagement:
The critical part of success for a social networking site is marketing. Those starting a business often underestimate the importance of marketing. For a social networking business, you actually need to have two marketing targets.

You need prospects to visit your website and a significant number of people in your interest area to become loyal members. You can earn revenues through various means as stated above, but you need to have a separate plan to generate that until you can get big advertisers on your site or start to sell a significant number of premium upgrades.

Engagement is the key to any successful social networking site. Drawing in customers is great, but you will want them to become a member, visit your site regularly and also invite their friends to join. One of the best ways to engage users is through shareability. You need to ensure that it is easy for your site members to share posts, articles, events, etc. with other users.

It might seem unreasonable to engage other competitive social media platforms, but it might actually help you get more users. This holds especially true if you are targeting a niche. People have varied interests and sharing between various social media sites can enable new users to join your site. Easy sharing with platforms like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn can also help you get more users interested in your niche.

Conclusion

Starting a social networking site is difficult but if you get it right, you can actually earn revenues through it and attain success. You will have to build a foundation for an online community and then gradually respond to its needs as it grows. Many new demands of the users will arise, which you wouldn’t have ever considered. But if you will stick to it and put in your efforts, you may find that a social networking site can be a rewarding venture!