Developing a social media website can be costly. Depending on the features and functionality you want, it can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of millions of dollars. Even if you have the programming skills to do it yourself, you still need to factor in the cost of hosting and bandwidth, amongst other things.
If you’re looking to develop a social media website, be prepared to spend some money. It’s worth it, though, as a social media website can bring in a lot of traffic and generate a lot of revenue.
Many factors can affect social media website development costs.
We’ve had this discussion with several clients lately, so we thought it might be helpful to provide some insight into social media website development costs.
It is essential to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all answer regarding social media website development costs. It all depends on the specific project requirements and goals. That sounds like a typical cop-out answer, but it’s the truth.
The development costs typically fall into one of three categories:
- Low-cost social media websites. These are generally simple websites that don’t require a lot of customization or features. They usually start with a CMS such as WordPress and integrate social media plugins to add social media functionality.
- Mid-range social media websites. These websites require more customization and may include e-commerce, forums, or social media integration. They usually start with a CMS such as WordPress or Joomla but may require some custom programming to achieve the desired functionality.
- High-end social media websites. These custom-built social media websites often require a lot of custom programming. They may also need to integrate with other systems and APIs. The costs for these social media websites can vary widely, depending on the specific project requirements.
Bespoke or plugin?
When discussing social media website development costs with clients, one of the first questions we ask is whether they want a fully custom social media website (i.e., a bespoke product) or if they’re ok with using an existing social media plugin.
Using an existing social media network plugin (i.e., BuddyPress or MemberPress) is usually the cheaper option, but it may not provide all the features and functionality you need. Sometimes they can be customized to meet your needs, but that usually requires a heavy dose of custom programming. Those costs can add up quickly.
Building a social media website from scratch will obviously cost more, but it will also give you more control over the features and functionality. If you have specific requirements that can’t be met with an existing social media plugin, then a custom social media website is probably your best option.
How much would it cost to build a website like Facebook?
A project of this magnitude would be bespoke, with costs running into the millions.
Why the substantial costs? There are several reasons-
Creating the backend.
First, engineers would need to develop the backend infrastructure to support the social media website. This would include things like the database, server-side scripting, and security.
This is the part of the site that users don’t see, but the website must function correctly. Facebook has over 1 billion users and handles a massive amount of data. The backend infrastructure needs to be able to drive that much traffic and data. Efficiencies need to be built to make sure the site can scale as needed.
Designing the front end.
Once the backend is taken care of, the next step is to design the frontend. This is the part of the social media website that users see and interact with.
The front end needs to be designed for users to navigate and find the information they’re looking for easily. It also needs to be developed for social interaction. This means ensuring the site is easy to use and has all of the necessary social media features.
Many of these features work hand in hand with the backend infrastructure, so the two need to be designed and developed together.
While all of this is being developed, the social media website also needs to be tested. This is a crucial step to ensure everything is working correctly before the site is launched. Every scenario needs to be tested, and any bugs need to be fixed.
Once the social media website is launched, it needs to be monitored closely. The team needs to ensure everything is working as expected and that there are no new issues. They also need to be prepared to fix any further problems quickly.
Server and infrastructure costs.
You might be able to start the site on a shared server, VPS, or dedicated server, but as the site grows, you’ll need to upgrade to a more powerful server(s). That costs money.
Not only do you need to pay for the server itself, but you also need to pay for things like bandwidth, storage, and security. All of these things add up quickly. The engineers to ensure everything is set up and running correctly also need to be paid.
Engineers will integrate server load balancing techniques to maintain website availability with high traffic assumingly from around the globe. This is no easy feat.
As the social media website grows, you’ll need to add more servers and hire more staff. The costs can quickly get out of control if you’re not careful.
Where do you make money?
When you step back and look at everything that goes into building and running a social media website, it’s easy to see why they’re so expensive. But where does all that money come from? How do social media websites make money?
The most common way is through advertising. Social media websites have a large audience, which makes them attractive to advertisers. Advertisers are willing to pay a lot of money to reach those users.
Another way social media websites make money is through paid subscriptions. This is usually for features that are above and beyond the basics offered for free. For example, LinkedIn has a paid subscription that gives users access to additional features like InMail and analytics.
Some social media websites also make money through data mining. They collect data about their users and then sell it to third-party companies. This is a controversial practice, but it can be pretty profitable.
Social media website development can be expensive, but there are some cost-effective ways to create a social media website. Finding the right social media platform that meets your needs and budget is essential.
If you have an idea for a website and want to explore some options, we’d love to discuss them with you. Reach out to us and let’s see what we can come up with.