It’s no secret that social media applications have dominated the internet since their emergence. People browse social media content daily through their phones or computers.
Even businesses make use of these apps to acquire prospects, build trust, and make themselves known. As a result, they have become an integral part of our lives and are likely to stay.
Because of the importance of these apps, software developers must learn about them, especially if they’re planning to create a social media application themselves.
Specifically, developers need to know the most popular features among social media applications. In this article, we will explore the features that make the leading social media apps captivate users so much.
1. File uploads
First, let’s talk about files. Content is one of the core elements of social media, and media files make up a huge part of content. When someone talks about social media, images, and videos almost always come to mind.
These files tend to be larger than others and take longer to upload. Furthermore, users nowadays expect their files to be uploaded smoothly.
- Different upload options – Your file uploader needs to provide multiple ways of uploading to fit the needs of other users. Recently, it’s not enough to have just the default file picker. Users could find it more convenient to drag and drop/copy-paste files, upload directly from the device camera, or import from external applications or cloud storage.
- File preview and editing – Another feature users expect from modern file uploaders is the ability to preview and edit files, especially media files, before uploading them. This is to ensure that users are uploading the file they intend to upload and that the file will appear exactly as they want it to when shared.
- Image effects – One of the essential characteristics of social media file uploaders is whether users can add effects to images (and videos). Take Instagram, for example. It allows users to add filters and effects to images before uploading, enhancing the user experience by giving them more control over how their images look.
- Optimization – A modern file upload tool, mainly used in social media apps, must be fast. To achieve this, developers need to optimize the upload process by partitioning the file into chunks, uploading them one by one, then putting them back together once the upload is complete. Another is setting file size limits to ensure only files with reasonable sizes are uploaded.
- CDN (Content Delivery Network) – Using a CDN to deliver files is one of the best ways to boost the reliability of your file upload tool. It uses Points of Presence (PoPs), servers located strategically across the globe. Users would then be directed to the PoP that’s nearest to their location, increasing the chances of upload success while also improving speed.
- Responsiveness – Social media apps must be accessible and consistent anywhere. Therefore, a social media file uploader must look and function consistently across all screen sizes and devices.
- Security measures – File uploads are a possible gateway for malicious users. They can exploit vulnerable file upload tools and perform attacks like Denial of Service (DoS), SQL injection, and XSS (Cross-site scripting) attacks, among others. Because of this, they are placing security measures in your file uploads is a must. Some simple security techniques include limiting file size, number, and name length. It’s also recommended to set up an antivirus on the host server, randomize/change/verify file names, and authenticate users.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) features – The most advanced file upload tools incorporate AI or ML features. These include image tagging, direct content detection, image captioning, copyright detection, etc.
These file upload characteristics, when combined, make up a robust file upload tool that social media users will appreciate and enjoy using. However, implementing all these features can be too much for developers with time and budget constraints.
To save time while improving the overall upload experience, developers can opt to integrate a ready-made third-party file upload solution. These uploaders come with most, if not all, of the file upload features listed above.
They allow developers to focus on their application’s other social media features instead of spending months or even years trying to perfect a file uploader. Even better, you won’t have to worry about maintaining the uploader.
2. Post interactions
Social media is about connecting people. Interactions among users in social media are inevitable and vital.
That’s why social media applications almost always allow users to interact with posts (or whatever user-generated content is called on each platform). Some forms of interaction include:
- Reactions (like/dislike, love, and other measures of emotion)
- Comments (in the form of text, images, links, GIFs, and so on)
- Visit link (often seen in ads)
- Check user profiles
Users can do these most common interactions in most social media apps. They allow people to voice their opinion and show emotion towards content.
They also let people who are moved by some content to repost or share it on the same app or elsewhere. Businesses can use interactions to generate leads and take viewers to their sites.
Users can also usually check the profile of people who interact with or create a post. Lastly, should users see content that doesn’t follow the community guidelines (e.g., explicit, hateful, copyrighted, or misleading content, among others), they can usually report it for removal.
Interactions can be a double-edged sword. They allow users to express positivity; however, they allow others to spread negativity or harm others. That’s why it’s essential to have strong community guidelines in place. Ignoring them could be highly damaging to your reputation.
No social media app is complete without instant messaging. This feature allows users to communicate with each other, be it one-to-one or in groups.
Users can conveniently send text messages, images, videos, and other files in a social media chat. Some even allow users to make voice and video calls, with most platforms having filters and effects on calls for additional enjoyment.
Social media messaging must be as fast, secure, and reliable as possible. Messages must be successfully sent to the recipient (and only the intended recipient) in considerable time. Polishing your social media’s messaging tool is one of the best ways to retain users.
An excellent social media site with poor messaging could lead to users abandoning the platform because messaging other users could be too slow or too much of a hassle. You must also protect your users’ data by using encryption and other security measures.
Another feature of social media platforms is that they can’t function without notifications. How will users know if there’s anything new? Not all users are on mobile phones or computers. Enter notifications. They notify users when a significant event occurs on the platform.
For example, notifications let users know when they get tagged in a post, someone interacts with their post, someone messages them, and so on. Notifications must also be easy to spot, informative, and relevant. It also helps to make announcements appear even when a user is not using the app (i.e., push notifications).
One of the most attractive features of social media platforms is personalization. It involves giving a user a personalized experience when using the app.
This includes using the theme of their choice, configuring settings to their tastes (e.g., having an exemption list for posts, tagging preferences, etc.), and even changing the language. Aside from additional convenience, allowing personalization makes your users feel more special and cared for.
In social media, users often need to look for something, be it their favorite store, a new friend, the latest news, or maybe just some memes. In any case, a search bar will always be helpful.
It lets users get to their destination way faster than having to scroll through hundreds of content. With a search bar, you can rest assured that your users will never be lost.
7. Business pages/accounts
Social media isn’t just for leisure or fun. It can also be used for promoting and conducting business. By letting businesses of all sizes make an account or page, you help them generate leads, connect with their clients, and build trust.
You can also give them opportunities to create ads posted on your site, allowing them to show off their product or service and generate profit for your platform.
8. 2FA or MFA
One of social media’s most common and effective login security measures is 2FA (Two-factor authentication) or MFA (Multi-factor authentication). They allow users to log in by providing both login credentials and a one-time pin (OTP) or equivalent code sent to their email address or mobile number.
This ensures that any attacker who successfully acquires a set of credentials won’t be able to access the compromised account unless they also have the user’s email or mobile phone.
9. Single Sign-on (SSO)
Finally, most social media platforms nowadays support Single Sign-on (SSO). It refers to logging in to different platforms using the same account.
This provides a huge boost to convenience, user experience, and protection against phishing attacks. Users won’t have to enter their username and password if they’re already logged in to their main account to which their platform account is connected.
In this article, we reviewed nine necessary features for social media platforms. These should be able to guide you accordingly when making your social media app, as they are standard in the best platforms of today.
As you may have noticed, some of these features would benefit from a robust and reliable file uploader. These include file sharing in general, post interactions (as comments), messaging, and personalization (in the context of changing background or profile photos).
Social media, files, and content will always be related. If you improve the way you upload files, you also improve the quality of your social media platform. Users will always appreciate being able to share their content in a fast and reliable way.