7 Engaging Social Media App Features That Keep Users Active

7 min read

To get loyal users engaged with your social media app, you need features that they want to use and that encourage them to stay on your app.

Frank L.
Frank L.
Published March 8, 2023

By exploring and researching social media app features that increase engagement, you can get a better idea of what your users really want from you. 

1. Robust In-App Content Creation

Enabling in-app content creation means that your users won't have to go to a second app to create and edit the content they post on your site. Most social media sites have some form of in-app content creation where the user can snap a photo or video, but to keep users engaged, you can offer them advanced features that make your app indispensable.

Some, however, are missing the opportunity for more robust content creation tasks, like editing, trimming, and filtering. These more advanced content features can keep people using your app for many different tasks. If you enable users to do multiple tasks within your app, they don't need a ton of apps or additional software. They can create and post right in the same app.  

In-App Content Creation Examples

There are several social media apps, like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, that enable creators to fully create, edit, and post photos and videos. TikTok is one of the newer content-sharing social media apps, and it continues to improve the user experience with its robust in-app content creation options. On TikTok, users can take videos, trim them, merge multiple videos, and add music, filters, text, and more.

Most types of social media apps also allow users to create and post different kinds of content rather than just one. For example, several social media apps — including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok — allow users to post content but also allow users to host live streams and even live shopping.

2. In-App Chat & Video Calling

An in-app chat and/or video calling feature makes it easy for your users to communicate with their friends and followers without needing a separate app. Feature-rich in-app messaging and calling help you compete with other apps that allow users to communicate this way.

People are increasingly using messaging apps. There will be an estimated 3.51 billion mobile messaging app users worldwide in 2025. At Stream, we found that 70% of our Chat customers saw their user engagement increase by at least two times after integrating the Chat API.

In-App Chat & Video Calling Examples 

Facebook Messenger has evolved from its early days as a simple chat function. Now, users can use Messenger as a way to direct message, call, and video chat with their friends and family.

Snapchat's in-app messaging is unique as well. Users can send their snaps to all their friends at once or individually. When they send a snap to an individual, Snapchat opens up a one-on-one chat. Users can also start group chats with multiple people.

Despite built-in messaging systems like iMessage, messaging apps like Discord and WhatsApp have managed to stay competitive. WhatsApp sets itself apart in a big way by enabling users to message and call each other without a phone plan and communicate internationally without incurring a huge phone bill. 

3. Gamification Elements

Gaming elements can enhance your UX and make users want to spend more time on your app. In fact, one study shows that gamification can increase engagement in apps. Users of apps with gamification spend more time on the app and visit the app more frequently.

The entire concept of "liking" a post and following certain people is, in itself, a form of gamification. People get influxes of dopamine through these types of social media interactions. But just about every social media app enables its users to like, react, follow each other, comment, and share posts. The trick is to build on these gamification elements and make your app new and better.

Gamification Examples

TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram have all created game filters. People can play games like "This or That," "Would You Rather," trivia, and other guessing games. These filters are applied just like any other filter, but the user can interact with the filter to play the game either by moving their head or touching the screen to complete an action.

Some social media apps like Twitter and Instagram also let you use interactive elements that other users can respond to. Instagram offers stickers for polls, quizzes, and questions that can be added to the user's Story. On Twitter, users can add a poll to their profile that any other Twitter user can answer.

You could also consider rewarding users with badges or points for actions they complete — like filling in their profile or sharing their first piece of content. Once they have a certain number of points, reward them with premium content or another perk. 

4. Easy Search or Filtering 

The phrase "google it" has become synonymous with looking something up. Google's search engine made users need a search function. Having it in the apps they use regularly provides a level of convenience that users have come to expect. And filters make that search experience even more useful.

Think of the search functions on apps like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok — these apps are basically separate search engines now. They use autocomplete predictions to help users find what they're looking for, and they allow users to search through different types of content like sounds, hashtags, and creators. These features make it convenient for users who need to find something but don't want to spend a long time searching. Users come to rely on these search engines to find the information they need.   

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Easy Search & Filtering Examples 

In 2021, TikTok was visited more than Google.com, dethroning Google as the most searched website. And TikTok's search function continues to evolve. Now, TikTok makes content recommendations based on what other people have searched. TikTok users can search things directly from a video in one of two ways  — with a recommended search topic in the search bar or in the comments by clicking on a hyperlinked topic.

Some social media sites, like Pinterest, Twitter, and Medium, ask users to pick the topics they're interested in at signup. Right off the bat, users are shown content that they are interested in rather than having to find it themselves when they're new to the app. 

5. Groups, Message Boards, & Communities

The ability to create and join groups is a powerful feature that can transform an app into a thriving community. Users are more apt to continue using your app when they find a community that they fit in with, that gives them a voice, and where they can connect with like-minded people. To tap into that, let users build their own communities within your app through groups or message boards.

Some apps are fully dedicated to message boards and community forums, like Reddit and Quora. Other social media apps allow users to build their own communities within the app. 

Group, Message Board, & Community Examples

Almost two billion Facebook users use Groups every month. Facebook users can create and/or join groups and it's easy to find a group for virtually any and every interest and topic. People create groups for everything, from the city or town they live in to favorite movies, TV shows, or brands.

Twitter Communities are a bit more structured and can't be created or joined by just anyone. In order to join a community, users have to have a public account and be joining a community with open membership. Closed membership communities are invite-only.

Reddit considers subreddits as communities where "Redditors" can get together and chat about a specific topic, idea, or interest. Reddit makes it easy for users to find subreddits by including tabs at the top of a user's page for the most popular subreddits and for popular topics.

6. Personalized Push Notifications

Push notifications that are personalized for each user based on past behaviors and interests can get them more engaged with your app. People have so much information coming at them all the time from their phones. They want to be able to control notifications, so they only see what they want when they want.

Personalized notifications can improve push notification reaction rates by 400%. Users are more likely to take action on them rather than simply dismissing them from their phones.

Personalized Push Notification Examples 

Send push notifications to alert a user when someone they follow is live streaming, especially if the user has watched that person's live stream before or otherwise engaged with their content. Understanding these user patterns can help you send them more personalized notifications.

Many apps also send personalized push notifications when new activity has occurred in a group, community, or forum that a user is a part of. For example, if a user posts a question in a forum, you can notify them each time someone answers their question. 

7. Automated Content Moderation

When you moderate content within your app, users are more apt to feel safe and protected using it. Moderation can mitigate any negative impact on users and your app. Users will feel confident in knowing that you'll take action against harmful or malicious content. It helps you maintain a strong reputation, keep your communities safe, and minimize risk.

Automated moderation lets you filter through the content on your website to find and remove content that goes against your community guidelines or user policies. Plus, it saves you from having to manually monitor the content on your app.

Automated Content Moderation Examples 

Use chat moderation for your in-app chat function so you can look out for malicious behavior like bullying and harassment. You can restrict certain phrases or language like hate speech or slurs, track patterns of user violations in case you need to remove someone from the app, and much more.

Monitor site content, communities, forums, and discussion boards. For example, if you own a blog or microblogging site, you can use moderation tools to keep your content safe for all users. 

Understand Your User Base to Include the Features They Want Most

To understand which social media app features your users are most interested in, research their interests. Look at forums like Reddit and review sites like G2 to find what users are saying about the existing apps on the market and features they would like to see more of. Use these platforms to find out where the gaps are in features that are currently on the market.

Then start planning your feature list. Most likely, you won't be able to include all of the features you want at first, so start with the most important features — the ones your user base can't live without. From there, you can see if you have the budget and time to add other features they'd like to have.

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