How to create successful social mobile app

Charity events, social projects dedicated to responsible consumption and helping those who in need are going more and more towards digital world. It’s understandable — internet expands, there are more and more possibilities that you need to try to evolve together with the world itself.

To be heard in the net is hard, much harder than to be heard offline. So is it possible to create a social app that will be talked by thousands? Let’s try figuring out how is it even possible.

Mobile internet usage share

According to statistics, from 2013 time users spend with their smartphones has risen from 51 to 62%, while time with desktop computers has fallen to 38%. In 2017 these dynamics will continue to proceed.

Mobile traffic rises and users consume more and more content through tablets and smartphones. That is why it’s important to count mobile users to have the wider audience. Such message needs to be taken in mind for the social mobile development also. You cannot just simply walk away from mobile anymore.

How people use smartphones

90% of time users download mobile apps and there is only 10% left to work with browser. What’s interesting, the number of mobile sessions is constantly growing. The number of people who open mobile apps more than 280 times per day has gone up to 80%.

Often people use three types of apps per day: messengers and social networks (14%), games (6%) and online maps (6%). Every active user in average work a lot with 5 apps per day. Not so much, isn’t it? In such case to get the attention of a person with social app you’ll need to battle with other apps to conquer this Top-5.

Let’s start with saying that it’s possible, even in Russia where social apps development is way beyond. Here are just several Russian examples of social apps that are successful.

«Donor»

«Donor» is first mobile app in Russia for donors that helps you plan your blood donations with personal characteristics and health condition taken into account.

«Sezam»

Sezam is the first Russian messenger for kids and adults with speaking and writing disfunctions. With the help of the app such people can communicate with their relatives without being put into stress. The app uses specific pictograms that help to create full messages.

The map of accessibility

Project ‘Map of accessibility’ was created under the protection of Unified Nation foundation before the Sochi Winter Olympics. Users can put places on the interactive city map that are accessible for disabled people.

So, it’s possible to create well-known and successful mobile app. The main idea now is to find out where to start the development. First of all, you need to figure out the idea.

5 problems that can be solved with social apps

  • Helping conquer the illnesses

This type of problem can be solved with informational apps that describe illnesses, symptoms and various side effects from pills taken. Some apps can help to remind about taking a pill on time.

  • Apps for disabled people

Such apps help navigate the city and create routes for people with limited abilities. There are other aspects to consider such as giving access to the legal information for the disabled people or help evolving the motor functions with the complex of simple physical activities.

  • Apps to take care of the patients

Such apps give patients, doctors and relatives all the information they need to take care and be aware of patient condition. Many such services also count the dose of painkillers according to type of medicine.

  • Apps for responsible consumption

Such apps are usually connected with maps and geolocation functions. For example, with the help of such app you can see all the addresses where you can recycle junk or leave the old cloth for homeless.

  • Apps that help people who want to help

This type of apps is better described on the examples. Johnson & Johnson company developed a service called Donate a Photo for Charity, that became good advertising campaign together with effective service to gather the things for charity. The same principle LG used for their portal LG Care where everyone can become a part of group gathering funds for charitable events and causes.

One Today by Google is also a great example of fundraising initiative by Google. Everyday user is given a thematic photo with an opportunity to donate 1$ for a charitable organisation.

5 things to know before developing a social mobile app

  1. In 2014 the number of apps in Google Play and App Store became larger than 2,5 millions. In 2017 the number has risen to 5 millions. Be ready to have as many competitors as possible.
  2. There is no social category in AppStore, that is why right after the launch you’ll be competing with much more competitors than you thought.
  3. It’s not necessary to contact the developers to create an app. If it has little functionality it may be possible to create with a help of virtual builder yourself.
  4. Many commercial apps fail to bring profit. Some non-commercial apps are the same. That is why you should always think strategically while developing an app.
  5. Key mistake many teams make is to focus on product instead of end users.

Before starting a development ask yourself 4 questions that are true to social apps no less than for commercial ones:

  1. What is unique about your product?
  2. What problem of real people you plan to solve?
  3. How people are solving this problem now?
  4. Why people will use your product?

Always remember to think strategically during your social project.

Dobrovolets (Volunteer) app is a great example of successful social app from our own practice.


This is an app for those who want to help. It helps to coordinate volunteer activities during rescue missions, humanitarian and social offers. To work with an app you need to have an account on the company’ website.

What features were created to help:

  • Push-notifications about any problems in your region available upon registration
  • Unlimited possibilities to help and call anyone from your team right in the app
  • Ways to join the rescue operation
  • If your team member needs help he can give a sos-signal to everybody in the party

What factors led to success in case of Volunteer app?

First of all, it’s virality, the usage of mobile functions (as push-notifications, geolocation, etc.), constant development and support of the app. Without these factors app would be lost in the crowd of similar projects and would never reach the top.

Mobile app development begins with creation of the target audience portrait. With the help of successful partnership any foundation app can get more than 100 000 installs from Google Play and App Store. However, the trend in Russia is not so good and many social projects fail.

Most common mistakes of Russian social apps:

  • no ways to pay right from your app (you need to go to the foundation website, insert the card information, go through 3D-Secure process);
  • no gamification or partnership with games;
  • no viral content and social shares in regular social networks (some useless buttons with networks that are not common or even not present in Russia);
  • no updates. Every project after its launch needs a constant technical support and expansion of features;
  • the quality of the app is low. If the user sees mistake and uninstalls the app, there is almost no chance for him to return to this app again. To attract user for the second time is much more expensive;
  • no mobile-only functions: push-notifications, geolocation, camera, etc.;
  • no strategy and budget for promoting your app. As it was mentioned before, App Store has no category for social apps, you’ll be promoting your app the same way your competitors do.

Keys to success of social mobile apps

Main competitors of social mobile apps are games. That is why many foundations prefer to partner with them instead of starting a competition. Game companies are eager to partner with social foundations and fundraisers and put their content into their app to increase the charity.

For example, long time ago the world found out about one simple game called Swampy Crocodile. This game is about a crocodile who wants to take a bath but cannot do this because of his alligator enemies that are breaking the pipes. On one level you can donate some money for charity foundation that delivers fresh clean water to Africa.

Always use mobile functions of the apps and, moreover, never forget to adapt your app for a local market, even when you’re using international app builder. For example, you should delete all icons of social network that are not used in your country, etc.