Whether you’re looking for an innovative way to expand your business or have an interesting idea and want to share it with others, you might be ready to create your own social network.
Having your own social network isn’t solely reserved for the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. Creators like you build social networks all the time. So the question isn’t whether you should build your own social network, it’s “how do I build my own social network?”
Take Elizabeth DiAlto’s story. She wanted to reclaim and redefine what womanhood meant to her and ended up creating a space for women to self-embody love, healing, wholeness, and liberation — to accept and appreciate their bodies. She saw a need to build a community to help women explore and implement self-embodiment and wanted to see them get closer to their goals.
She tested out a few options for creating a social network for her community, “The Institute for EMBODIED Living,” until she found success with Mighty Networks. She now has a thriving community of over 200 members where everyone can connect and chat.
With a monthly membership, members get a ton of content, including monthly community calls, two mini-courses, and additional classes (like a healing meditation). By helping women heal, Elizabeth hopes it will have a domino effect — that there will be a collective healing and liberation beyond her community.
Still asking yourself “but how do I create my own social network that will be successful and active like Elizabeth’s?” Read on to learn how!
If you want more support in building your online community, come join OUR Mighty Community for free and meet other new and established community owners! We’d love to meet you. Join for free!
In this article...
What is a social network?
A social network is an online space where people with similar interests, passions, and goals come together to connect, learn, share, and grow. People can connect with friends, families, and colleagues, and they can also connect with people they don’t know.
When we think of social networks our minds go to popular social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. These platforms are public, and for creators, not very customizable. With social network software, the control is back in your hands. You can decide how your network functions, set the rules, and create your own guidelines.
Why create your own social network?
There are plenty of reasons to create your own social network. But typically, it boils down to the following reasons.
Get the benefit of community
Humans are social creatures and that means we’re wired for communities. We all crave inclusion, fitting in, and being a part of something bigger than ourselves. Building a network means you’re bringing people together to meet other passionate people who share a common interest or goal, and that’s extremely rewarding.
A community is about bringing people together to explore, overcome, or understand a shared goal, interest, or idea. Take, for instance, group coaching: members can go through a transformation with their peers, encourage each other and share their ideas. Ultimately, they develop real connections and friendships, not surface level or shallow bonds. On top of that, you get to witness your members realize their full potential, how cool is that?!
Stop fighting algorithms
When you use traditional social media sites, you’re at their mercy. Even if you create a Facebook Group for, let’s say, your coaching business and have 200 members who join it, there will be a lack of engagement in your group because you’re constantly in an uphill battle with Facebook’s algorithm. Even though your members get notified about your Facebook Group, it’s buried amongst all their other Facebook notifications. Not only that, but Facebook basically chooses what to show them (essentially they’ll only see the highlights).
So, instead of fighting an algorithm to reach your members and keep them engaged, why not create a space where members log on because they want to see specific news from your community?
How many times have you logged into a traditional social media site like Facebook or Instagram for a SPECIFIC reason only to get derailed by your friend’s most recent vacation pictures to Hawaii, or funny dog videos, and totally forget the reason you logged on in the first place? The goal of these social media sites is to keep you on them for as long as possible (which is how they get their money — with ad revenue) and they do a good job of it.
That’s why it’s so beneficial to create your own social networking site. This will be a place where your members can go when they have the energy and bandwidth to interact with specific content about knowledge you’re sharing, and they’ll actually feel good about how they utilized their time.
You have the opportunity to help your members feel focused and rejuvenated rather than scattered and depleted, which is one of the most common problems with typical social networks.
Traditional social media platforms monetize your members’ news feeds by bombarding them with a ton of ads. They don’t genuinely care about the members using their site…they care about their bottom line. Not only that but it gets really hard trying to monetize your community using these traditional platforms. Facebook Groups is a good example — you can charge a group membership fee, but you need at least 10,000 followers! For the average creator, most of the monetization features are way out of reach.
When you make your own social network website monetizing becomes a lot easier, regardless of how many members you have. When you use a platform like Mighty Networks, you have a ton of options to monetize your community.
Here’s what you can charge using Mighty Networks:
- Membership fee (recurring or one-time)
When you have various monetization options it also gives your members more possibilities with how they interact with your content. Now that’s priceless!
Sure, you can grow huge communities on a traditional social network site, but these platforms don’t actually grow with you. The community you have now will be the same community you build with 10x more members. It might be easy for members to join, but it gets harder for you to build genuine connections with new members and manage the community as a whole.
When you build a social network and choose the right platform, you’ll be able to easily manage your community, regardless of its size. There are many paths you can take to do this, like growing your audience with subgroups dedicated to specific interests. Say, for instance, you have a group of career coaches. You could create subgroups for resume writing, interview preparation, or networking. All of these might be areas that coaches want to learn about, but by creating subgroups you can help coaches narrow in on their speciality and meet them where they’re at.
The right platform will also give you more in-depth data about what’s working in your community. This will help you understand how your community is growing and keep track of everything along the way (like new members, so you can properly introduce them).
How to create your own social network in 10 steps
Now that we’ve gone over the why, let's go over how to build a social network website from scratch!
Find your niche
In order to create a social network you need to figure out your community’s Big Purpose. Your Big Purpose is the motivation for your community — something that can only be achieved by bringing together these exact individuals to your community. It’s figuring out what you will master together and what will be the tangible results your members can achieve by being part of the community. Narrowing in on your Big Purpose will bring clarity to your members as well — why they’re there in the first place and what they’re working towards.
To help you narrow down your Big Purpose, use this template we created:
When the steps are clear for why and what your members are there to accomplish, it makes attracting the right members to your social network that much easier.
After you’ve honed in on your Big Purpose, you’ll then need to define your Ideal Member. Your Ideal Member is the person who needs your community the most RIGHT NOW. This will be someone who is going to be enthusiastic and eager to join your community social network. Some factors to consider when determining your Ideal Member: age, life stage, how they would benefit specifically from your social network, challenges they’re facing, and what they’re struggling to accomplish on their own.
When you’re clear on your Ideal Member, it’ll be much easier to make your own social network. You can attract the right people, at the right time (who will be motivated by the journey you’re creating), and it’ll make for an engaged community.
Choose a platform
This is one of the most important steps in the process — choosing a platform to build your own social network on.
When there are so many social network software options out there, it’s hard to know what features to look for. At the bare minimum, you’ll want your social network creation software to have powerful customization options, a myriad of ways to deliver content, and intuitive community-building tools.
Since everyone is on their phones, the platform you choose should also offer a great mobile app experience.
With an all-in-one community platform like Mighty Networks you can do that and more! Here are some other features in which Mighty Networks can help you level-up your social network:
- Discussion boards, polls, Q&As, live and recorded video
- Member and community analytics
- Direct messaging and subgroups
- Subscription options, virtual event hosting, and online courses
On top of that, you can completely customize all of these features under your brand, available on web, iOS, and Android with Mighty Pro — a white label community software.
Think about how you want your members to interact with each other, the content, and you. Also consider whether the platform you choose will be able to grow as your community grows — you don’t want to be limited with how your community evolves because of the platform you chose.
Set it up
As you’re setting up your social network, it’s important to decide how you’re welcoming new members into the fold. After all, you want your members to feel comfortable. When a new member joins your community, you want to give them the low down of how your community works (e.g. have a welcome section and explain how they can navigate the social network, as well as important guidelines they should know).
On top of that, you want to get to know your members and your members want to get to know one another. Make sure to give them a friendly welcome and ask your members to introduce themselves with an initial post, by including details like their pronouns, a fun fact about themselves, and what brings them joy. This gets members excited to open up in a safe setting, makes them feel like they’re VIP, and sets them on the path to making deeper connections.
If you want to keep your community engaged, chances are you’ll find various formats to connect with them, such as virtual events or live videos for your courses. Regardless of how you choose to engage with them, you’ll want to test out your gear before you go live.
Most people don’t have access to or the means for professional video equipment. Luckily, most modern smartphones have a perfectly good quality camera that will work for what you need, and high-quality webcams are much more affordable these days.
You can have a great camera but if you don’t have great lighting your video quality will be terrible. A simple trick is to set yourself up in front of natural lighting (when light is on your face there won’t be any weird shadows on you). Voilà, you’ll be ready for lights, camera, action in no time!
Finally, ensure you have a clean, neutral background. Your members don’t want to be distracted by your background, they want to be focused on you and the quality content you’re providing.
Sound is actually more important than video. Think back to podcasts you’ve listened to—if the hosts don’t have clear audio, you probably stopped listening. Also, when someone’s bandwidth is limited, video players and video conferencing software will prioritize audio over video. Even when your video suffers, deliver crisp audio to your members.
Make sure you’re close to your screen or recording device, that you’re in a quiet space, and that you’re using the proper equipment.
You don’t need anything fancy, but investing in some quality headphones and a standard standalone mic can do the trick. Just make sure that if you’re using an external mic that it’s picking up what you’re putting down (i.e. your laptop is using the external mic and not the built-in one).
Whatever equipment you’re using, just make sure you’re comfortable and familiar with it. That way, if something does go wrong during a livestream, you can easily troubleshoot. If you’re not a tech-savvy person, consider recruiting a friend or a trusted member of the community to be on standby and help you with troubleshooting.
Choose the ground rules
Since the community you’re building isn’t the “wild west” of the internet (as in anything goes), you need to set some ground rules. An important part of managing a social network is having concrete guidelines and expectations for how members should behave and conduct themselves.
This doesn’t mean that you’re censoring members, but when you have clear rules, it will help keep conversations from getting out of hand. That way, the community will remain positive and constructive, and everyone will be focused on the mission of the community — the Big Purpose. You want to create a safe space — one where members can open up and be vulnerable without being attacked or judged by other members.
Your role as the creator is also being a moderator — observing the conversations that are happening and flagging anything that goes against the community guidelines. As your community grows, you can choose members to be moderators. Not only will they take some of the pressure off you to constantly monitor your social network, but these moderators will feel good that you’ve entrusted them with this role and will feel more invested in your community.
Now that you have a foundation for your social network, it’s time to invite your Ideal Members to it. Remember that not everyone is going to be a perfect fit for your community and that’s perfectly ok! You don’t want everyone joining; you want members who are excited about what you’re creating and essentially “get it.” You want people who see the community you’re building, with its Big Purpose, and think, “This is exactly what I need in my life! I can’t wait to join and share my ideas!”
Start with people you know — extend an invite to family and friends, gauge their interest and let them decide if they’re a good fit for what you’ve created. Word of mouth is a powerful way to naturally gain more members. Plus, you don’t need 100 members off the bat, all you need are 10 super motivated people to get things rolling. As they say, the rest is history.
Once you create your social network, here’s how to market it:
Use traditional social networks
Since there are a ton of people using traditional social networks, might as well use them to bring them to yours! If you have any sort of social media presence, use it to your advantage. You don’t need 100,000 followers either; work with what you have. Before fully launching your social network, you can do a countdown and some promotion leading up to the release. Build some hype around it, and people will be curious.
A free and easy way to promote your social network is to email. You don’t need fancy marketing tools — if you have an email list of any kind, use it. You’ve already built a connection with people on your email list and they look forward to hearing from you anyway, so promote your community to them.
You could even provide them with some tricks and tips. Let’s say your social network is centered around how to build the best photography business. You could send an email about five tips on how best to photograph a landscape, then at the bottom include a call-to-action (CTA) promoting your social network, “Click here to join my new community and learn how to create a kickass photography business.”
Chances are not everyone on that list will be interested — only a small percentage will want to sign up for your community, but that’s totally normal. Let’s say you have 100 people on your list and 10 are willing to join your community. As far as email marketing goes, a 10% conversion rate is excellent!
Host a webinar
When you promote your social network, you want to use different tactics and a tried and true way is by hosting a webinar. A webinar that is well done will position you as a confident leader, someone who is knowledgeable around that topic and give people a taste of what it would be like to join your community.
Make sure that, like your other promotional material, you leave people wanting more. Don’t give all your knowledge away; just give attendees something that piques their interest and encourages them to join your community. You also want to give them actionable advice in the webinar, not something completely abstract that they can’t grasp.
To really stand out, try a live webinar (when they’re pre-recorded it shows) — that way you can answer questions at the end in real time.
When you create a social network, you don’t want to build just any community; you want to build a thriving community. One way to do this is to curate smaller groups, because at the end of the day, not all your members are the same.
As you really get to know your members, you can group similar people based on their interests, and this will help them to create stronger connections. Smaller groups also give your members a chance to network with one another, giving them new opportunities outside of the community.
Another way to create a thriving community is with regular virtual events. A virtual event doesn’t have to be anything grandiose, a simple happy hour or even an online virtual escape room can build connections.
It’s difficult to foster connections when you’re not meeting up in real life. That’s why video hangouts can be so helpful — everyone is in the comfort of their own home where they can see one another on screen and build meaningful relationships.
You could also experiment with doing guest interviews (with an expert), lectures, and a mastermind group.
Everyone is behind a screen all day, so it can be exhausting to interact solely with text-based discussions. That’s why virtual events are great — your members feel invested in you, your brand, and the community.
Price your social network
Ok, now let's get into how you will actually make money off this thing. Maybe it will be good extra income on top of your full-time job, or maybe it will actually replace that job.
We can’t give you a set price for YOUR social network. However, here are some things to consider when pricing your social network:
First, it’s important that you are charging something. You’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into this social network and you deserve to be paid for it. People value what they’re paying for. If this is your first time creating a community, there’s a tendency to undersell yourself. DON’T! It’s normal to do this, but that’s why we recommend that you charge enough…that it hurts a bit.
We’re not saying to overcharge your members; we’re saying that the price should sting you a bit (just above your comfort zone). Think about the things you’ve invested in and how much you were willing to pay for it. Maybe it was a really interesting course, or a top of the line mattress, or even comfortable shoes (which you’ve now had for six years).
Whatever it was, you knew you’d get a lot of value from it so you were willing to pay the price.
Now think about the value you’re offering with a social network — a transformation and bringing together like-minded people. Don’t undersell yourself. Charge a reasonable price and people will value it. This will also weed out anyone who isn’t fully committed. You don’t want these people anyway, you want people who are willing to put in the work and show up.
Don’t outprice your audience or underprice your competitors
This is where you keep your Ideal Members in mind. Be careful not to outprice what your Ideal Member can actually afford. If you’re targeting job seekers, maybe you charge $20/month for your social network instead of $200/month. If your Ideal Members are executive directors, $200/month might make sense, but for job seekers who may be in-between jobs, that wouldn’t make sense. It’s a hard balance to strike (you want to charge enough that you’re earning a decent amount, but not too much that no one joins), but eventually you’ll find a sweet spot.
It’s important to do some market research and see what your competitors are charging to inform your decision. Just don’t get the idea that you should charge the least in order to gain the most members. Sometimes people get a thrill from the best bargain, but that doesn’t always equate to how much they value that purchase. Usually people believe that paying more means they’re getting higher quality. These are the people you want.
Learn and grow
When you do something for the first time, like creating your own social network, there’s a lot of learning involved. Since you’re the creator, it’s hard to know how your members are feeling — is the content resonating with them? Are they engaged? Is it meeting their expectations? Instead of guessing how they feel, why not ask them? A simple, “Are you enjoying yourself? Is there anything you think I can improve?” will go a long way.
Building a thriving community is about having a safe space for your members to be themselves while also feeling comfortable enough to give you feedback. Getting feedback from your members is a great sign because it means they’re engaged and they want to continue to stay invested in the community.
You could even turn it into an “office hours” session, where you host a meeting to discuss what members would like to see more of and what changes they’d like to see. This gives everyone a chance to voice their concerns and feel like their ideas matter.
Of course the important thing is that you take what’s being said into consideration. After all, your members are your greatest asset. Hear what your members are saying and adapt. Make changes, that’s the best way to grow.
3 social network creation software options
If you’re wondering how to make your own social network, look no further than Mighty Networks! Mighty Networks is an all-in-one community platform that brings together your community, online courses, and content all in one place. Mighty Networks is a wonderful place to build your social network — where your members can create and master something interesting together.
With a Mighty Network you can create engaging content (e.g. videos, images, audio clips, polls, and surveys), discuss important topics, and there are a ton of options for monetization. For example, you could charge a membership fee to join your community or you could offer to make it free but sell online courses for members to purchase. You can also add paid subgroups.
There are so many ways to create member engagement, like hosting livestreams (adding a level of spontaneity), direct and group messaging between community and subgroup members, and there’s even an “activity feed” where members can keep track of all the incredible content.
Mighty Networks doesn’t limit your customization options either — it allows you to add your logo, brand colors, and customize your community to your liking. Not only that, but your members can access your content and community from anywhere, since Mighty Networks is accessible across the web and apps, available on Android and iOS.
If you want a branded app, you can upgrade to Mighty Pro.
Best premium option
Mighty Pro is the best premium social network maker. It’s a white-label community platform that’s a leveled-up version of Mighty Networks, giving you even more features for managing your community, organizing your members into groups and subgroups, and tons of monetization options. Best of all, you get your own branded app in the Apple app store and Google Play store!
Mighty Pro lets you establish all facets of your community under your own branding, look, and feel. This is for creators who want to take their social network to new heights.
Best free option
If you’re wondering how to create a social network for free, Discord might be the answer. Discord provides a primarily text-based communication solution for members to interact with one another. This platform allows creators to section topics into “channels” to organize all of the conversations their members are having. The platform was originally built for gamers, but it has since hosted communities of all kinds. With Discord, you’re building a community “hangout” space for your members.
Creators choose this platform because it’s free, popular, easy to set up and navigate, has apps for every platform, and even has live chat and event options.
The downsides to this platform include: no options to monetize (e.g. courses, paid subgroups), limited event functionality, almost no options for customization, limited messaging functions, and limited moderation functions, which makes it difficult to create a safe space for your community.
Conclusion — Come build with us!
There’s never been a better time to build your own social network for your community. It’s a great way to expand your business and to stand out from the sea of other businesses by giving your members a unique experience.
You don’t need experience in building your own social network either. All you need is to find your Big Purpose, be clear on your Ideal Member, and choose a platform that will support you along the way.
When you build a Mighty Network, you’ll have a platform that grows with you by helping you create a thriving community. You also get world-class community-building tools and features, lots of options to monetize, and an app available for every device.
Ready to start building your social network?