I want to Create a Social Media Nightlife App. Where Do I Start?

We book holidays and hail taxis at the tap of a finger. We take the time to write lengthy reviews on e-commerce websites. God, we even pay with Apple Watch in stores! Why is the nightlife industry (which is worth over $ 500 billion in the USA alone) so desperately behind in its technology then? In case you want to make a social media nightlife app and change things for the better, here are some useful tips for getting started.

How to create a successful nightlife social media app?

Market research

First and foremost, you should conduct a thorough market research to determine who your target customers are and what they expect from a stellar nightlife app.

By the way, what does the “nightlife app” term mean? It might be a proper table-booking application like Tablelist and OpenTable. Or it might be a mobile guide to a city’s bars, restaurants and nightclubs (a kind of TripAdvisor, if you will). You may go even further and create a social network for beer lovers!

Anything is possible – you only need to find an untapped business opportunity!

Going back to our market research, most people stop clubbing at the age of 31; at 37+, clubbing is considered “tragic”. So, your target audience is Millennials and Centennials – that is, all the young people aged between 18 and 31.

Recent studies show Millennials prefer to drink at home rather than spend $ 625 on a bottle of Grey Goose at Tao. When they do go out, they normally attend alcohol-free events, outdoor music festivals or bars with board games and live bands.

With all those 4K monitors, iPhones, smart TVs, e-books and quality video games, you can’t really get bored at home now. 60% of Millennials cite high expenses as the main argument against going out. What’s more, the very concept of machismo, being wild, tireless and crazy (everything that inspired Boomers), is going out of fashion. Even the biggest “bad boy” brands like Harley-Davidson and Abercrombie & Fitch are now trying to clean up their reputation.

Living in an aging society, both Millennials and Centennials have learnt to appreciate comfort. When they decide to have fun, they need old school Instagram-worthy places (which basically means you can’t go to the same bar or cinema all the time).

We’re more or less done with your target audience analysis; what about your competition?

The top nightlife apps right now are Social Status, InList, Tablelist, Nightstir, bevRAGE and WinGIT. Technology-wise, their complexity ranges from searching cool places near you and avoiding the crowded ones (Social Status) to getting discount on alcohol (bevRAGE). More complex offerings like Tablelist help users book tables at hottest NY, LA and Vegas clubs, buy booze in advance and split the bill with your friends.

The more features you’re going to enable in your social app, the more coding and UI/UX efforts will be required. Your app may not necessarily be unique; single out the features that will prove useful to your audience, wrap them up nicely, do proper marketing – and success will follow!

Designing the perfect nightlife app feature set

  • List of bars, cafes and restaurants in town with filtering options (like the Barchick app which, among other things, enables users to specify the search area, the type of fun they’re after, company (if there is any) and date of trip);
  • Restaurant/club menu info (76.7% of the nightlife industry’s revenue still stems from alcoholic beverages sales);
  • Maps (in case you’re new in town, too drunk to navigate or want to find cool places near you; the integration with Google Maps is thus required);
  • Option to invite friends from your phone Contacts list or social media (similar feature is enabled in Howl, a social app that allows users to check in to a bar, tell their friends how it is and invite them to join the party);
  • Loyalty program elements (by offering discounts and virtual currency which can be spent on drinks and snacks to users who take the trouble to promote your app on social media and invite their friends via SMS/messengers is a great way to boost your user base at no cost);
  • Mobile check-in (there are two options here; your app can either implement the QR code technology to help users check in at bars and restaurants listed on your catalog or track their location through GPS);
  • Ratings, reviews and social sharing (65% of users trust reviews written by other consumers; also, party animals might want to post a picture taken at a club on social media or directly to the app’s newsfeed);

  • Online booking features (a great nightlife app should let users reserve a table at a bar or restaurant or purchase tickets for an upcoming Adele concert);
  • Mobile payments (one of the ways to monetize a social app is to charge commissions for payments made via the application, so the integration with Stripes/PayPal SDK is thus required; bill-splitting is a great option, too);
  • Real-time data on table occupancy, ticket sales and club attendance (you need to create a web-based admin panel for business owners so that they could timely update menu, event and attendance info);
  • Messaging (nobody’s talking about fully fledged messenger here; what you need is a simple text chat with an option to upload images from camera feed);
  • Notifications (whether there’s a discount on black beer or special guest performance in town, users surely don’t want to miss it);
  • Integration with a ride-hailing app like Uber (it’s not a must-have feature – but it definitely can be useful).

How to create a social app: nightlife app development cost breakdown

Unless you have an in-house IT department, you’ll need to outsource the job to a reliable iOS & Android mobile app development services company (yes, you’ll need two apps – and no cross-platform app dev tool will help you achieve the desired level of performance).

I set down to talk with my colleague Pavel, who is Head of iOS App Development at R-Style Lab, to estimate nightlife application development costs; all the prices given in this article are based on the median Eastern European developer hourly rates ranging from $ 30 to $ 35.

  • According to Pavel, the listing of bars, clubs and other nightlife spots with image galleries, detailed descriptions and contact data will cost you anything between $ 1.2 thousand and $ 2.8 thousand;
  • The integration with Google Maps SDK (including the option to define search area and plan routes) will add another $ 1.4-2.5 thousand to the estimate;
  • User invitations – which will also help you boost your app’s virality- cost $ 1-1.5 thousand to develop (sending invites to friends on Facebook requires more back-end coding, so SMS/messenger invites are preferable);
  • Ratings and social sharing will cost you $ 700-850;
  • The booking and payments features (which allow users to filter tables by their VIPness and the number of guests, pay in advance and split the bill) are estimated at $ 3.6-4.2 thousand. The same goes for live messages;
  • Notifications are perhaps the easiest part (hence the small price of $ 400-540);
  • The integration with Uber SDK is also a piece of cake ($ 500-600).

All in all, the mobile part including UI/UX design will cost you anything between $ 15 thousand and $ 17.5 thousand. Add $ 21-24.5 thousand to enable backend logic.

$ 35 thousand for a single-platform nightlife app? Isn’t it too much?

The good news is, you can always start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – that is, the very basic version of an app supporting its essential features like the list of nightlife spots, their ratings and online booking, – find beta users and add extra features to the scope as your project evolves! Having an MVP up your sleeve will also help you secure funding and partnerships with nightlife businesses.

So, do you still want to make a social media app?

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