Building a Social Media Platform to Target Local Areas – Upsides and Market Opportunities

As entrepreneurs interested in creating a social media app, you may be curious about what next steps you should take vis-a-vis business, marketing and software development. Why even build a social media app when giants like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter have such a ubiquitous presence on the market? Large scale social media companies connect a massive number of users worldwide, but they can be impersonal and difficult to build a real community through.

Releasing a local or regional level social media app can build its credibility within local circles. Every app has its unique assets and areas for growth, so each development timeline will look different depending on the product. Social media platforms require extra time and attention to fully flesh out, so releasing your app globally may not be the wisest first step.

Within a local market, you can scale and control your business tactics and get quality data on your app before you try for bigger markets. If your app performs well in a local market, you have a good indicator about the viability of the concept. If your initial launch doesn’t meet your goals, you can retool your business model before you go nationwide or global.

What is “Local Social Media?”

Scholar Yu Zheng from defines Location Based Social Networks (LBSNs) in a Microsoft-sponsored paper as “…social structure[s] made up of individuals connected by one or more specific types of interdependency [sic], such as friendship, common interests, and shared knowledge.” In other words, a social media platform can connect individuals with a common geographic location or shared social and personal interests. How does this definition apply to any potential social media app or LBSN you build?

“Generally, a social networking service builds on and reflects the real-life social networks among people through online platforms such as a website [or a mobile app], providing ways for users to share ideas, activities, events, and interests over the Internet,” Zheng argues.
In other words, social networks are not supposed to exist just on the internet: they are a way to promote the sharing of ideas, activities and events in real life.

One of the key ways to start thinking about your own LBSN is to imagine what sort of ideas, activities and events your users will hopefully share.

Ways to Build an LBSN or Social Media App

  • Think About Your Potential Audience:- This step is especially crucial if you are releasing only to a local market. Consider who might need your app, and why they might need your app. Do some research into the demographic breakdown of the population, the amount of app usage in the market. You could even canvas on foot to gauge interest, or beta-test a version of the app with a small, controlled focus group. Whatever sort of due diligence you deem appropriate as research, you should pursue during this phase.
  • Scale Your Project Wisely :-Facebook began merely as a way to connect Harvard singles, but the demand for the service soon grew to the point of global inevitability. Had Facebook started global, perhaps the course of history might be different. To build a following and demand for your app you may have to hone in on a specific, engaged audience. But there are exceptions to the rule. Some apps like Twitter succeeded and their first launch was global. Every app concept is different, and some may do better with an early wide release. However, unless your app has strong signs of large-market viability early on, starting within a small base and strategizing growth may be the safer bet
  • Advertise Your Concept on Other Social Media:- Even if you are proposing an alternative to big social media, having a presence on traditional platforms will help a wider audience recognize you. Putting out regular content on all channels helps you stay active and relevant on their various algorithms. If you partner with other companies or influencers on the platform, you can get your name out to the audiences of other, like-minded business partners. If you want to get your page viewed on search engines, you can perform Search Engine Optimization (SEO). To help generate leads, you can offer free trials of premium content and other deals on your website. You can retain the information from these visitors to your site, whether that be an email, phone number, or even just an IP address, and tailor email campaigns and marketing to an engaged audience. Finally, social media is supposed to be social: meaning, have fun with your brand. Be creative with your logos and digital content; get users to connect with others and feel good after using your product.
  • Assess Your Performance Based on Concrete Benchmarks:- Before you even start beta-testing stating specific monetary and traffic goals can help focus your team on a tangible, achievable outcome. Having an idea of how you want to monetize your app can be a good start. whether through selling advertisements, charging a fee for premium content, selling the app on app stores, or any other business model that generates revenue for you. Deciding which platforms you want your app to run on is crucial for the early development process. Do you want your app to work on iOS, Android? Will your app be web-only, or include a mobile app as well? How much money do you need to generate? What sort of traffic are you estimating? Instead of deciding blindly how you want to proceed, you can use your market research to decide which market and platforms will be optimal for your social media platform.
  • Keep It Simple:- Users churn apps at significant rates across the board, and the same goes for social media apps. If you want to keep a new user’s attention, having easy, even bare-bones UX (User Experience) design with a clear functional goal will help users stick with your app.

According to Statista, users stuck with (retained) social media apps at rates of 26.3% after the first day, 9.3% after one week, and just 3.9% after the first month. Social media apps have a 73.7% churn rate after just the first day, so if you want to stand a chance, find a way to make it straightforward, enjoyable and conducive to forming real-world bonds.

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