As promised in our previous post, here is the second part of guideline how to create a Niche Social Network.
Decide whether you want to build your niche social network from scratch or use a social network platform. To start from scratch, simply register a domain, start a web hosting account, and build a social network website from the ground up – or hire software developers to help you build it. However, developing from scratch means it will be a long time before the site is up and running. By using a platform, you will see results much more quickly without needing to know a great deal about software development.
1. Pick a Platform
There are several platforms you could consider:
a. Social Engine (http://www.socialengine.com/)
Used by several major entities and corporations, including EA Games, Apple, NASA, and MasterCard, Social Engine is one of the best ways to create a custom social network. You can install it on your own web server, giving you 100% ownership of your social network’s user data and content. Social Engine also offers easy set-up, multiple log in options,and simple, modern themes. No coding or design skills are needed to use it. With Social Engine, you can create communities with different frameworks, like Twitter-style followers or Facebook-style friendships. The platform also has an active development community with hundreds of add-ons, templates, and themes.
Social Engine is a good choice for anyone, whether site owners possess only a little or a great deal of technical experience. It provides a social network on a beautifully designed site at a low cost with many built-in features.
b. PhpFox (http://www.phpfox.com)
PhpFox is one of the most powerful solutions for your social network.It gives you the ability to create a unique community that includes many of the features found on top sites like Facebook and MySpace.The interface includes a compact, orderly design as well as modern features such as photo tagging, “likes,” brand pages, groups, blogs, a forum, videos, music, a marketplace, quizzes, social sharing, ad campaigns, subscription, and so much more phpFox utilizes a single sign-on feature, which provides the ability for your visitors to use their Facebook, Twitter, Google, Open ID and other types of usernames to log in to your site.
Like Social Engine, phpFox also boasts a massive community and hundreds of add-ons and modifications for the platform. The software itself is open-source and is extremely simple to install, customize, and administer. Installation takes only a few minutes and includes a wizard that walks you through the steps. Right after the installation, your social network is ready in a basic layout.But the best thing about phpFox is an active developer community. This community offers a number of modules and plug-ins which are already available, and if you need something special created, they can build it for you. For these features, contact http://phpfox.younetco.com/
c. BoonEx Dolphin (http://www.boonex.com/)
Built on the PHP platform, BoonEx Dolphin is a fully scalable and customizable social application. You just download, install, and run it for your online community, which you control from top to bottom. It also allows webmasters to build sites similar to Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Flickr and others.
The application provides such tools as chats, multimedia functionality, forums, groups, e-mail addresses, events, and much more.
d. Ning (http://www.ning.com/)
Ning is another popular platform for setting up good-looking, sophisticated social networks with minimal effort.With this platform, you can create your own social network with no coding involved. However, Ning is a self-hosted platform, which means you can only use the platform on Ning’s servers. Nevertheless, using Ning is a very simple experience. All you have to do is sign up, choose a design, and open your network to users. Ning has made it easy for members to get involved, but it also gives you total management over your network. You can designate who can sign up and what your users can do on your network, whether hosting their own blogs, creating forums, uploading photos and videos,or taking advantage of numerous other built-in functionalities.
2. Manage and Customize Your Site
After choosing a suitable platform, pick all the plugins that fulfill your requirements. If the standard plugins for your chosen platform do not meet your needs, there are thousands of plugins from third-party developers from which you can choose to satisfy your requirements. For example, if you want your social network integrated closely with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Yahoo!, MySpace and so on, you can try the social network package products available from YouNet Company (http://socialnetwork.younetco.com/). More specifically, if you want to make your website more friendly, professional, and interactive by offering a safer, faster, and easier way to log in using existing accounts, you can try the Social Connect plugin (http://phpfox.younetco.com/v3-social-connect.html). This helps your users save time in signing up and offers a more secure password setup. Or, if you want to create a sophisticated online marketplace for buyers and sellers, you can add the Advanced Marketplace plugin (http://phpfox.younetco.com/v3-advanced-market-place.html). With this plugin, buyers can rate a product, write a product review, or even follow up with sellers for more updates on their marketplace activities. If you want your users to enjoy photo and album sharing, viewing, or exploring, interacting with each other and using the site more proactively, try the Advanced Album plugin (http://socialengine.younetco.com/advanced-album.html). If you come up with creative ideas to make your niche social site unique, outstanding, and innovative, but the plugin you want doesn’t seem to exist, contact a third party company with your requirements. Software development enterprises like YouNet can customize your site based on your specific requirements.
Once you have a platform and you have chosen the necessary plugins, the next step is to look for developers to build the ideal site and to help debug real-time performance problems.
It’s time to start developing your own social network. In the next post, we will introduce you the last part of our guideline how to create a Niche Social Network, which will help you understand how to Launch and Promote a Niche Social Network.