- Internet & the Web
7 Ways to Start Your Own Social Network Site
If you're wondering how to start a social network site, maybe even thinking you want to start your own social network, like Facebook or Myspace, then you have to start by asking yourself why you're doing it. Perhaps you want to start your own private social network, or maybe you want to start a social network that anybody can join - both are easily achievable. You're probably wondering what is the best way to start a social network.
It can seem like a great idea to run a successful social networking site, but to get to that position you need to either have come up with the idea and teamed up with people that could pull it all together, then to be lucky with the marketing, or you need to be able to find a huge wad of cash to throw at the right people.
SO WHY DO YOU WANT TO START A SOCIAL NETWORK SITE?
Maybe you want to start your own social network because it seems like a great way to earn good money - but to get good money you need people to join your new site, and there are quite a few out there, so you need an "edge". Something unique.
Maybe you already have a great group of people, based around an interest or a geographical area and you want to be able to pool that energy and talent - this is always a great reason to start a social network of your own and now you're just looking for the best way to start a social network
Software to Start Your Own Social Network
If you want to start your own social network then you'll need some software to do it. There are a few routes you could take, depending on what you have in mind, the grand master plan and your time and budget constraints.
GET A CLONE OF FACEBOOK OR MYSPACE
You could, for example, have some written especially for you, by employing a freelancer. Simply advertise that you want a clone of Facebook or Myspace and there'll be programmers out there that can do it for you.
Having software written for you though will be more expensive and riskier. You have to think about who will maintain it, who will support it, who will upgrade it. As Facebook and Myspace have a team of developers working full-time it wouldn't be long before your version fell behind their functionality and you'd be left in the social networking backwaters.
Facebook Clone Script
Alternatively, there are one or two Facebook Clone scripts available at quite affordable prices now, that you can simply buy and have running straight away. One facebook clone script is in the list below.
BESPOKE SOCIAL NETWORK SOFTWARE
The alternative is to have software written that meets your needs exactly. In this way you would be creating your own vision of a social network, that works exactly the way you want it to. You could ditch the things that you don't like in existing systems and create new functionality. Get a good team of freelancers working for you and you can have what you want, at a price. Although some people might be prepared to collaborate on the project with you for a profit share.
OFF THE SHELF SOCIAL NETWORK SOFTWARE
Another route to take is to get yourself some ready made social networking software, set it up, configure the choices and settings you want, pick a nice look/colours and away you go! You could have started your new social networking site virtually overnight.
Software that you can do this with include the following, they all have the usual features you'd expect from a social network, so you need to really check them out and work out which one fits your dream:
Facebook Clone Script
If you want a straight forward Facebook Clone Script, then these are an easy way to have a social networking site of your own, that looks and feels very familiar to you and to people wishing to join it. If people feel something is familiar, it works how they're used to things working, then they're more likely to join and stay with you.
A facebook clone script can cost you less than 2-3 hours of programmer's time! Making it a really affordable entry into the world of running your own social network site.
Buddypress (most recommended)
- Bluehost + Buddypress
Bluehost - Top rated web hosting provider - Free 1 click install For Buddypress.
Buddypress didn't appear on the original article, but so many people left comments to say how great it is, I investigated and it's now added here. Buddypress is completely free - so it's a free way to start your own social networking site. However, it is just the software that's free, you still need to host it.
The easiest way I found to get Buddypress installed and working was to get a Bluehost account because, once logged into the admin panel, you can find a "one click install" of Buddypress available - making it a no-brainer as it's all done for you and you don't need to get technical at all.
You can add on Buddypress templates, change the look/style and feel of the site - and further extend the basic functionality with a huge array of extensions that are easily added as you need them.
To get started here, get your domain name registered for your new site with reliable, affordable, professional hosting - then just log in and install Buddypress from the admin panel. Bluehost also give you a free domain name.
Grab Boonex Here
- BoonEx - Community Software Experts
Download free software and launch your own social network, dating site or online community. BoonEx is the leading dating software and community software provider.
Boonex is free software that gets your social networking site up and running for free. Boonex Community Software is just one programme from a company that has a collection of open source and premium titles for creating community sites and social networking sites.
Using Boonex, you can create any type of social network site you want, dating sites, social networks, online clubs, or virtual communities. It's very flexible.
This solution is probably best for developers/people who are comfortable poking about inside php and doing mods though, rather than somebody who just wants a solution that works out of the box. Overall, it has a history of being a bit buggy.
KickApps: This has now closed down. Below is what Kickapps was and how it could be used to start a social network:
Kickapps is probably the most professional solution, it's "white label", so it really is your look and feel. This works on your own domain name, so it's totally "yours" from the perspective of your members and visitors. KickApps provide a full API and developer kit and everything else you would need to make it do exactly what you want, so this software is something you can really get your teeth into or hand over to your "development team" to sort out. KickApps offer a free trial so you can sign up and give it a go, test drive the features, get some friends invited to run it through its paces. Over 85,000 sites have so far been built on this platform. It is generally highly regarded and robust.
Ning: Ning is probably the most widely known social networking software. Ning is no longer free (since July 2010) and really acts as an extension to your website or blog. It integrates nicely with Wordpress, Joomla and other content management systems, but there are limits in storage space and bandwidth that you have to be mindful of. You might find the minute it starts to take off, you've suddenly got a bigger bill than if you'd stood on your own feet from the start. It is for this reason that you need to think about upgrading your account once your new social networking site is popular, but they have the capacity to keep up with you!
Ning costs from £20/year ($30 or so).
Ning have teamed up with Groupon, which will enable you to make money from your social network site easily.
Jinity has closed down.
Jinity was another social networking software solution, but there is no support beyond their support forum. There are two versions, the free version has adverts on it, or you can pay a small monthly fee and have their ads removed. It is designed as a DIY social networking solution, so is probably better suited to more techie types. They try to provide good support and a stable platform, but it does come with no guarantees.
SocialGo: This British owned company has been helping people just like you to create social sites for a few years now. This is a starter level solution and you can have your social networking site up and running in 2 minutes. Social Go operate regular online workshops where you can learn what you're doing. You can use your own domain and remove all their branding and, of course, charge membership fees if you wish. You can also run your own adverts on the site to generate an income. For those techies among you, there's an API available too.
Overall, if you're looking for a quick and easy solution, that just works and is supported, SocialGo is proving to be the popular choice! You get a free 14 day trial to try it out.
Get Pligg Social Networking Software
- Bluehost + Pligg
Bluehost - Top rated web hosting provider - Free domain name and free 1 click installs for Pligg social networking. Unlimited bandwidth.
Pligg is a free (open source) CMS system. Simply download the software and you're off! You get user profiles, voting on things that are good, private messaging ... and your members have full control over their content. There are RSS feeds and it's SEO friendly too.
Each user that signs up to your Pligg site gets their own profile page where they can change their settings, send personal messages, add an avatar, make friends and other great features.
There are quite a lot of free templates too, so you can choose the look you prefer most.
Even upgrading is easy - you don't have to fiddle with the files come upgrade time, which is always great to hear!
You will need to get your own hosting, which you can do through them, or use your own. One they recommend is Bluehost, which I personally use for a couple of my sites, so I know they're good! With Bluehost you also get a free domain name and you've also got lots of other instant installs you can choose from - e.g. I use them for their instant Wordpress websites.
List of Social Network Websites Around the World
- GooglePlus Social Network Site
Google is now entering the social networking marketplace with their new Google+ (Google Plus) social network site. Like Facebook, Google is now giving users the ability to Add Friends and "Like" websites - but they're doing it better than Facebook as
- List of social networking websites - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
List of social networking websites around the world.
Marketing Your Social Network Site
Once you've got your social network site up, you'll find you will have to put most work into marketing it. To come along, people have to know you exist. Think about how you're going to promote it.
Press releases, contacting the newspapers, maybe get onto the Breakfast News or TV. Perhaps you want to do some crazy publicity stunt. But you have to get the message out somewhere.
USP: What is your Unique Selling Point? Why should people join your site rather than others? Think about what you're offering, it has to have something a bit different to the rest. Niche sites are the way to go. A niche could be based on your region or your country - or it could be based on some interest or a grouping of any other demographic. Having a niche and a USP is going to be the reason people choose to join you instead of, or as well as, the more well known sites.
I hope the above has helped get you on your route to start your own social network site. Once you've worked out what you want to do, how quickly and how much you have to spend on it, then you should be able to find the right solution that fits your needs today and in the future as your site generates a good income for you.
I wish you well in your new venture!
Did You FInd the Best Way to Start a Social Network?
I hope the above has helped you to discover the best way to start a social network - and now it's up to you. You're a very enjoyable, fulfilling and financially rewarding journey ahead.
All the best!
Photos by: Social Networking: Robert S Donovan & Girl in Water: Rich Kang