How to Build Video Social Media App like TikTok

We have Spotify for music, Snapchat for photo editing, and Twitch for live streams. Still, there is always a place for innovations. An example is TikTok that has become an excellent source of entertainment, keeping millions of users glued to it.

But how to transform a business idea into a profitable video social app? Read on.

In this article, you will find a step-by-step guide on how to develop and grow a social media video app.

Let’s get started!

What is the TikTok App?

TikTok users can stream live broadcasts, record short video clips, add favorite tracks, and post the results on social networks.

The idea to combine music, video and social networking in one mobile application came to Alex Zhu, a TikTok creator when he saw that teenagers used different apps for listening to music, taking selfies and recording short videos and sharing them with friends 

He thought that the new generation needs a music app for an innovative format.

It’s impressive, right?

Now, let us take a closer look at how Tik Tok works and find out why the app became so popular.

The most notable TikTok features overview

TikTok allows users to interact with each other by following, liking, and re-sharing content. But it also provides users with additional features, including:

Video uploading. Users can upload ready-made videos to their TikTok account, rotate or crop them, and even change the playback speed.

Video editing. Just like Snapchat, TikTok has an impressive toolset of AR effects for changing the color of the eyes, hair, and even adding makeup. There are also many stickers, animations, and masks.

Live streaming. Using this premium TikTok feature, video creators can make live streams and receive virtual goods from their fans purchased with TikTok Coins.

Social sharing. TikTok users can share all their videos edited in TikTok on their Instagram, YouTube, and FaceBook profiles.

Soundtracks. Users can add a favorite song to their short videos from the built-in TikTok library.

QR code scanner. To allow users to subscribe to each other, the app provides them with a unique QR code.

Duet Option. All users, who like to sing, enjoy this feature. TikTokers can create a video, add a #duetwithme hashtag, and ask other users to duet with them.

Geolocation. With geolocation, the app displays users currently active bloggers broadcasting live, nearby, in an instant.

Now let us see how to create a music video app and make it profitable.

Five steps to develop an app like TikTok

Below we share the most useful tips on how to transform your idea into a popular app like Tik Tok.

1. Research your target market

 The first step to your goal is to find out more about your prospective users. For that, you should do the following:

  • Demographic profile. You need to learn the average age of your users, where they live, what devices they use, and so on. 
  • Behavioral trends. Such trends include decreasing the user's desire to download something, rapidly decreasing patience for slow loading times, low tolerance for lack of security, high value on the app utility, and so on.

To create a better product that will respond to your users' wants and needs, we recommend creating a buyer persona, a detailed portrait of your ideal users.

2. Choose the monetization model 

Now that you better understand your prospective users, you can select the right business model for app monetization from below: 

  • Fundraising

At the initial stage of your project, you can attract investment with fundraising, i.e. collecting money as donations from individuals and businesses. Fundraising is one of earning premium mode even for TikTok. Recently, high-class investors funded the app with $3 billion.

  • In-app purchase

TikTok allows its users to support live broadcasters with virtual currency, bought with real money. Users can exchange virtual currency or coins for gifts. 

  • Advertising

This app monetization option includes the following in-app advertising types:

  • Cost Per Click charged each time the user interacts with the ads in their app. 
  • Cost Per Mille charged advertisers for every 1,000 impressions of their ad run the app
  • Cost Per Action when advertisers pay only for the specified action, such as an app install or newsletter signup

Now, when you know your future business model, let us dip into the app development process.

3. Cooperate with the app development team

With the target audience research and business model in hand, you need to contact the development team and start the project discovery phase.

In the first phase of a software project, Discovery Phase involves business analysis and requirements elicitation, technology stack choice, cost estimation, and project planning.

During the Discovery(Inception) Phase, we usually conduct the following activities, which might vary more or less depending on requirements:

  • Define the project scope, main features of the future software, and business priorities;
  • Create an app development workflow, taking into account the monetization strategy;
  • Identify main app features and user roles;
  • Design a future app concept.

Next, the team will prioritize the app's features, create project milestones, and start to develop the app MVP.

4. Create an MVP

The social video app development is a complex project. Thus, instead of building a fully-functional and costly app, we recommend launching your project as an MVP or a minimum viable product. In this way, you can find out how users like your app and consider their feedback for further app improvement.

Below we have put together a feature list required for social video app MVP and estimation in hours.

MVP feature


Estimation in hours

Basic UI


The design includes only main screen elements.

From 60+ hours


User login

User can log onto the app using 

  • Social network accounts
  • Email and password

From 60 + hours


User profile

The app user can modify 

  • Profile picture 
  • Password
  • Contact details 
  • Name
  • Gender
  • Phone number

From 60+ hours


Geolocation features

Users can share the location where a video or photo was taken.

From 120+ hours



Users can post 

  • Images 
  • Videos

Users can apply editing tools

  • Effects
  • Filters
  • Smileys 
  • Emoticons

Up to 320 hours: 

  • applying filters 120+ hours
  • creating custom filters 120+ hours
  • cropping and rotating photos 80+ hours



Embedding custom search via 

  • Username 
  • Hashtag 

From 60+ hours

Social sharing


Users can share their videos and photos on

  • Instagram
  • Facebook 
  • Twitter

From 120+ hours




From 800 + hours

Consider that developers from different regions have different hourly rates.

  • Developers from the US, England, and Australia charge from $150 per hour.
  • In Eastern Europe, the average developer rate starts from $35 per hour.
  • Indian developers average rate is $15-20 per hour.

Want to estimate your app?

Use project cost calculator

Now, let us tell you about our recent social media app project.

The App Solution experience

One of our clients came with an idea to build a social mobile app with public chat that will connect users with professionals from different spheres. That is how QuePro mobile app appeared. To meet the goals of the client’s business, we have implemented the following features:

  • Creating two types of profiles - for average users and professionals 
  • Posting queries or questions and receiving answers from specialists 
  • Detecting the user location via Google Maps SDK to show relevant professionals nearby
  • Sending notifications empowered by Google Cloud Messaging to users when their question is answered 

To develop the project under strict deadlines, we implemented EventBus, an open-source event library that simplifies communication between components and improves the performance of UI artifacts. As a result, we build the app with app essential features in just three months. 


Since social video apps are top-rated among teenagers, you can use some of TikTok’s mechanics for your mobile app and make it profitable. For that, you can adopt several business models, as described above.

However, to build a social media app, you need to go through the discovery phase. This phase requires defining the project goals, functional and nonfunctional requirements, as well as a project roadmap. As we have said, to create complex projects, such as a social media music app, we recommend developing an MVP with a set of basic features and simple design. 

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Daria Dubrova

Content Marketing Manager