More and more businesses want to create own community to share interests in narrow circle. Nowadays such communities are reachable with the help of social networking apps. From the developers point social apps keep getting a lot of attention even though it seems that all the possibilities have already been explored. All of well-known apps are profile-oriented, for example, Facebook gathered people based on interests and relationships mentioned on the account, Linkedin gathered professionals on exact type of craft where user has the biggest experience, Twitter is focused on visual content and tagged interests almost similar to Instagram and Pinterest. On this article we’d like to share our experience in development social dating app for sport lovers.
What we started with
Initially social mobile app development requires a three-tier architecture: mobile client, backend, and database. In Pin Mate mobile client is a business individual which connects people via common sport interest. Users profiles play vital role in attracting visitors, because it is something that individuals use to express themselves, so an app should provide some tools that can help personalize them. In order to fulfill user’s account with the required data we suggested at the registration stage connect the app to social network that user is already using. Basic profile data is easily retrieved via REST API calls from LinkedIn social network. As an alternative, users can also enter an email and password to sign up, but this requires more work, so people may be less inclined to choose this option.
Sharing of content in a social network app encourage people connect with each other. Content shared in feed can be either user-generated stories, user-uploaded audio, video, presentations, or photos. Pin Mate app doesn’t allow creating photo or video user stories; we used locations APIs that retrieve a device’s location from GPS and mobile network providers. This is the most common form of letting others know where you by tagging a location.
Another content type implemented in the app is related to people’s desire to look good. Special statuses, badges, levels, and tangible rewards are different ways a Pin Mate app can trigger the common social incentive to be better than peers. Sport lovers can point out their current activity, showcase in statuses their mood, or even ask for help to win in any kind of group competitions. The great thing about the “self-esteem” type of content is that it gives immediate value regardless of app’s community size.
Initial value of content is ability to offer some sort of interactions to engage and retain users.
Interactions are reviews, ratings, comments, highlights, likes, shares, and so on. Every time an interaction happens, a user gets a push notification which prompts them to open the app. What’s more, interactions are one way to increase connections in Pin Mate app.
Pin Mate’s audience is searchers. They are close to explorers but with one difference – searchers know what they are looking for. Based on users interests, statuses and location they find the best match and gather in one community. We can’t tell for sure that creating groups is a core value of Pin Mate app. This possibility was added as the additional feature to let groups of friends meet other groups that are located nearby. With user permission, connections can be mined from LinkedIn or contact list. PinMate app lets users send invites to their friends and compose the message with an invitation to download the app.
Another way to add new connections is a search. Thanks to filters that narrow down search results we allowed users to find each other following the location, gender, interests. This information is associated with a profile and initial app idea to find the best fit to play sport with.
Group chats as well as personal chatting rooms bring users back to the social network. There are a lot of third party services that can be used to develop real time chats. In Pin Mate app we used Web Socket.io. It allows users to talk with chat, voice, or video messaging and is really easy to integrate.
One more important part of the social app development is an admin panel. Its main purpose is support for the app’s users. For example, a user has a question about the app, he or she can address it to the project admin right from the app. The admin panel offers possibilities for viewing all questions and sending answers to users in real time. This functionality is especially important when the question is very specific and related to user’s history, personal stats, or payments. In addition to user management, an admin panel can also implement entity management features to keep some control over user-generated content.
For Pin Mate admin panel we added a stats page with integrated analytics. We synchronized it with Google Analytics which shows behavior of the entire user group. Relevant stats help gain insights on the app’s performance and come up with new ideas on how to enhance app
All in all, social networking app development does sound like a big deal. To get in the game with fewer risks, we’d suggest that you start with a smaller version of the product, or an MVP, and then work your way to the top.