The most popular social networks today are Facebook
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, Instagram and Twitter
, which are centralized in the sense that there is one organization responsible for managing access to any content that you download or distribute privately or publicly on these platforms. This is a traditional approach
that has been considered normal for many years.
However, after the scandal with Cambridge Analytica,
when it became known that Facebook was selling personal user data to structures that used them for political propaganda, this scheme began to cause rejection in people. Decentralized social networks based on the blockchain
, designed to protect the confidentiality of users without restricting their communication and content became the response to rejection.
From our article you will learn:
- What is decentralized social networks.
- How are decentralized social networks different from centralized ones
- How to build your own decentralized social network based on blockchain technology.
What is a decentralized social network
In short, this is an ecosystem which architecture does not imply a single center for managing and distributing information. That is, all personal data and content that you uploaded to a social network do not pass through the main Server (or a group of servers that are managed by a single organization). Personal data
remains in the system and never leaves it without the knowledge and agreement of the source, and the downloaded content is stored and distributed in the P2P model
Key features of decentralized social networks
. Users of decentralized social networks independently establish the rules for using the data generated by them, prohibiting and giving permission for their transfer, sale and monetization. Blockchain and smart contracts will be responsible for this. Anyone can be sure of their reliability and honesty, since this software is open source.
. In centralized social networks, ordinary users have almost no rights, whic-h can be easily verified by reading the Facebook, Youtube or Twitter User Agreement. Services are provided “as is” and you cannot demand more quality, reliability or security
. In decentralized systems, users manage the system by reaching consensus on all common issues (development and management), as well as the choice of each user in private moments.
Lack of censorship from above
. Popular Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube accounts often suffer because of allegedly violated site censorship rules. This is especially noticeable in countries where there are problems with freedom of speech. For example, in Russia, Iran and China, accounts are blocked, which states:
- about atheism, evolutionism - insulting the feelings of believers;
- about the rights of sexual minorities - the promotion of homosexuality;
- about a change of power (non-violent ways) - incitement to extremism, kindling hatred, work for foreign special services, insult of a government official, etc.
In America and Europe, problems with censorship on social networks are also present. For example, you may be blocked for images with nudity, even if it is a painting by Botticelli or Rembrandt. There are also problems
with texts that talk about sex and violence, even if it is educational materials or scientific research. Political censorship is also present, but not as explicitly as in Russia, Iran and China.
In decentralized social networks
, the rules of censorship, as well as ways of monitoring compliance with these rules, are set by users themselves.
. All centralized social networks have become popular and earn billions of dollars thanks to their users who create content and advertise these sites for no special reason, that is, for free. Do such sites share profits with their users? Of course no. And why, if they do everything for free?
This approach is unfair because they work alone and others become millionaires. In decentralized social networks,
a different model is used: every view, like, comment and other active actions of the audience are monetized and bring profit to the creator of the content. Advertising can also be run, and it will be profitable for users, not Facebook or YouTube owners.
How to build a decentralized social network
Step 1: Key idea
is communication with old friends and the search for new ones, as well as the opportunity to get news about them. LinkedIn allows you to build business
and professional connections. YouTube allows you to upload your video to the network in unlimited quantities and show it to anyone. Instagram has the same idea, but with a photo orientation.
When creating a decentralized network
based on the blockchain, start by finding an original idea that could be implemented with your capabilities. Such an idea should be popular with a large number of people and at the same time encourage them to communicate or other interaction: watching videos, reading texts, comments, likes, etc.
Examples of already running decentralized social networks:
- Reddit on the blockchain, where users can publish, edit and distribute content in an open and closed form. Each user involved in the development and / or popularization of Steemit receives a reward in the form of a SMT token (Smart Media Token).
- Tube. Decentralized analogue of YouTube, allowing users to download, distribute and discuss videos in an uncensored environment and receive rewards for it. The system is based on Steem Blockchain and IPFS.
- Twitter analogue with transparent and decentralized regulation and censorship. The platform is based on the Ethereum blockchain.
- A system for building professional connections, created following the example of LinkedIn.
- A platform for communities where like-minded people share stories and perspectives without fear of social prohibitions and judgments. Users can pay Minds tokens to advertise their own, and earn tokens for viewing and / or other people interacting with their content.
- The first social network based on the blockchain EOS and at the same time the first decentralized network launched in China. It is distinguished by the lack of censorship and Minds monetization.
- Decentralized social network, tooled for the publication and distribution of news. It is assumed that the Sapien monetization model will reward people for interesting news and punish fakes, propaganda, hidden advertising and other “bad” and “unethical” publications.
As we see, the majority of decentralized social networks
are analogs of already existing sites. This approach has the right to implement, but it is better to create something new or make a social network for a specific target audience. This way is more effective in terms of marketing.
Step 2: Name and Domain Name
Having an idea, you can begin to choose the name of your social network
and create a domain name. Ideally, a name is one or a combination of two words that, in an obvious form, beats the idea of your project, is easy to pronounce and remember. Simple examples: iPhone, YouTube, Twitter and Google.
The name should not:
- violate copyrights (must be checked in the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and its counterpart in the EU, China, Russia and other major regions);
- be like the name of other brands, sites, social networks;
- to be misleading, for example, when the social network is called DOGCommunity, and the site is dedicated to marine fish or ornithology;
- have negative connotations (to protect and / or promote religious intolerance, fascism, racism, chauvinism, and the like).
Associating with content 18+ is allowed, but only if that is the idea of the project. This, by the way, is a good idea, since privacy is needed here, which is one of the main features of decentralized social networks.
You can check the availability of your domain name on Google Domains, Namecheap, Bluehost, and others. If the domain is already taken, you can sometimes buy it, for example, on Domain.com, NameCheap.com or GoDaddy.com. You can also try to create a domain name on sites that combine, cut and complement one or more keywords
in various ways.
Step 3: Requirements and Functions
The next step in creating a decentralized social network
is defining the requirements for the site. Most of them are standard (features, security, design, code quality
), but some will be specific:
- What things should be decentralized. For example, who decides in which direction the platform should be developed, who decides where, how much and what kind of advertising to show, whether there will be censorship and what kind, who composes and can edit the User Agreement, etc.
- How to store user data and manage it. For example, you can create a decentralized social network in which the function of collecting personal data will not be implemented at the technical level, but you can create a system where the user will decide whether he wants to collect this data and how to use it: give, sell, change, delete.
- How to distribute the profits generated by the social network. Will the site collect all revenues in one pool and then distribute them among users according to their contribution. Or each user shows ads on his page and receives income from it without intermediaries.
Step 4: Development Approach
Development from scratch
. Ideal if you need to create a unique decentralized social network. It requires a lot of time and money, but it allows you to stand out among the competitors and realize something really new. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter and all other popular social networks are designs from scratch
Based on existing platforms
. You can use existing platforms to launch social networks based on them, for example, Sola, Steem.io or Loom Network, sharpened for launching decentralized social networks, or EOS, TRON, Ripple or Ethereum. This reduces the time and cost of development, but limits in terms of features and functions of the product being created.
. White label and clones allow you to run a social network for a couple of days, spending from $ 100. Risky option that can play only if you need to start a social network in a segment without competitors.
Step 5: Marketing Policy
For the success of your social network you need users, a lot of users, and the easiest way to attract them is through other social networks.
To do this, you need to develop a marketing policy that will include the following ways to promote:
- Targeted advertising - advertising based on demography, previous search history, purchases and / or behavior. These traits can be either demographic (focused on race, economic status, gender, age, level of education, income level and employment), or psychographic (focused on value, character, lifestyle, relationship status, personal opinion, interests).
- Marketing influences - a form of promotion in social networks that uses the approval of a product or service from influential individuals (bloggers), people and organizations who have an expert level of knowledge and / or social influence. Approval can be expressed both in explicit advertising and in the simple use of the promoted product or service.
- Content marketing is a type of promotion that includes the creation and distribution of content on the Internet (videos, articles, blogs, and publications on social networks) that clearly do not advertise a brand, but are aimed at stimulating interest in its products or services.
- Organic advertising - attracting people to the necessary resources through the organic issuance of search engines and social networks. Usually, SEO, LSI and other content optimization methods are used for this.
- Other: promotions, tests, games, questionnaires, app, contests, etc.
Step 6: Development and Testing
When all the preparatory work has been completed and you have a detailed understanding of what your decentralized social network
should be, you can proceed directly to coding. This requires a development team that can work
both in your state and in outsourcing. The first option gives more control, the second - guarantees of quality. The cost and development time in the first and second approaches are approximately the same.
Depending on the approach and complexity of the project, direct coding can take anywhere from a week to a year. At the same time, about a third of this time you should spend on testing the platform.
This is important, since no team can write perfect code without bugs and errors. Testing allows you to find and eliminate them, making your platform more reliable, faster and safer and more convenient - design and usability are also tested and improved during testing.
Step 7: Starting a social network
This should be a grand event, which is waiting for dozens, and preferably hundreds of thousands of users. It is difficult to create such an agiotage, but if you correctly organize a marketing company and start it long before the launch of the site, then it’s quite realistic to do.
Usually for this purpose use the following things:
- Advertising on profile resources. If you create a niche project focused on a specific target audience, you can organize an advertising campaign on relevant sites, forums and other social networking groups. The more niche product you create, the stronger the effect of such advertising (of course, if it is done correctly).
- Advertising through celebrities. The more celebrities you lure to your site, the more you will attract their followers. Considering that usually for celebrities it costs nothing (all SMM specialists do), it will be quite easy to do.