25 Best Social Networking Platforms to Start your own Service

August 30, 2013 · 61 comments

by Dustin Betonio


Social networking websites have been around since the mid-90′s, but in recent years, social networking has exploded across the web. The Web 2.0 initiative has made modern social networking sites increasingly popular and easier to use than the initial wave of sites that launched in the 90′s.  It’s super important these days to have a presence on social media sites. Did you know that Facebook in 2009 had more than 300 million users, and roughly half of these logged in every day? I can also tell you that twitter attracted more than 22 million unique visitors every month and YouTube had more than 100 million users in the US alone. Do you think these numbers will grow in 2010? There may still be niches waiting for someone to launch a dedicated service – in theory this could be you. In fact it is not that hard any more as you will see in this article.



A social networking service focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, e.g., who share interests and/or activities. A social network service essentially consists of a representation of each user, his/her social links, and a variety of additional services. Most social network services are web based and provide means for users to interact over the internet, share ideas, discuss shared concerns etc. The value can be huge for the involved individuals which of course is why so many people have adopted social networking.

Lets take a look at how easy it has become to create a new social networking service. As the area have matured we have seen fully functional platforms show up to make it a no-brainer to get started. In this article you will find 25 excellent platforms to pick from.

1. SocialEngine

SocialEngine is community software that you install on your own web server, giving you 100% ownership of your social network’s user data and content. You can use SocialEngine to create various kinds of communities with different frameworks, like Twitter-style followers or Facebook-style friendships. SocialEngine also has an active development community with hundreds of addons, templates, and themes. The software also includes a drag-and-drop CMS for easily customizing your community’s layout.

2. SourceForge

Sorceforge is the world’s largest opensource software development web site. We provide free services that help people build cool stuff and share it with a global audience.

3. Ning

Ning is the leading online platform for the world’s organizers, activists and influencers to create their own social network. Design a custom social experience in under 30 seconds giving you the power to mobilize, organize and inspire.

4. Elgg

Elgg.com is where you can get a network up and running in minutes. With support from the Elgg team and plenty of customization options, you can make it exactly how you want it

5. Xoops with Yogurt Extension

XOOPS is a web application platform written in PHP for the MySQL database. Its object orientation makes it an ideal tool for developing small or large community websites, intra company and corporate portals, weblogs and much more.

6. BuddyPress

BuddyPress is completely free and open source. Unlike hosted services, BuddyPress allows you to stay in control of your site and create a totally customized, unique experience

7. KicKapps

KickApps provides solutions that enable the creation and management of next generation web experiences. These solutions are social, interactive, dynamic, distributed, and data-informed. KickApps solutions consist of a suite of hosted media applications and services that are used by some of the world’s largest websites and brands to grow & engage their online audiences and foster deeper relationships with customers.

8. Mahara

Mahara is an open source e-portfolio system with a flexible display framework. Mahara, meaning ‘think’ or ‘thought’ in Te Reo M?ori, is user centred environment with a permissions framework that enables different views of an e-portfolio to be easily managed. Mahara also features a weblog, resume builder and social networking system, connecting users and creating online learner communities.

9. Insoshi

It’s a place to keep tabs on your favorite developers and projects, easily contribute fixes and new features, and visualize what’s going on inside your codebase!

10. Lovd By Less

Built with Ruby on Rails, Lovd is a social networking solution that has everything you need to build your community

11. Anahita Social Engine

Anahita Social Engine  is an open source platform, framework, and design methodology for building all kinds of social networking applications and services using an organic Nodes-Graphs-Stories architecture. Anahita is available under the Gpl2 License

12. MixxT

The mixxt GmbH is a provider of innovative Social Network and Online Community solutions and operator of the European Community platform mixxt. mixxt lets everyone create an individual Community and helps making communication and organization easier and more efficient. Community hosts can directly get in contact with their customers or target group and present themselves as interactive and innovative, without renouncing privacy, structure or an own design

13. AroundMe

Using AROUNDMe collaboration server you can create multiple collaborative group, webspace, community or social networking websites. Each group can create a multiple page collaborative web site. They get social tools such as a guestbook (a wall), a group blog, a forum and a wiki which they can drop into web pages. Each group is fully customisable using xHTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP. Groups can be private or public.

14. JomSocial

Customize profile fields.
Create groups. Invite friends.
Send private messages. Comment on walls.
Share photos. Follow updates via activity stream.
Integrate 3rd party components with our robust API.

15. Yacs

Simple, open source  social network.

16. Flock

Flock is a browser. The people at Flock are committed to building a browser unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before – because they start by focusing on user needs. They take pride in solving for common behaviors on the Web that seem clunky today, and will seem ridiculous tomorrow.

17. GroupSite

Formerly CollectiveX, Groupsite.com is a platform that empowers the creation of social websites called Groupsites. Groupsites are collaboration communities that enable groups to communicate, share and network to make things happen. They do this by combining the most useful (but not all) features of online groups and listservs (like Yahoo! Groups), collaboration software (like Sharepoint) and Social Networks (like Facebook and Linkedin).

18. Context Optional

Social marketing software and services for global brands and advertising agencies.

19. Going On

GoingOn provides a fast and cost effective way to build vibrant online communities. Leveraging the best of today’s social web, GoingOn Community Platform enables academic institutions to deliver new, more engaging models of knowledge management and social collaboration across their campuses, and to their broad network of constituents. The results include increased student engagement, improved faculty product-ivity, enhanced online learning and broader marketing outreach.

20. Demand Media

21. Pligg

Pligg is an open source CMS (Content Management System) that you can download and use for free. Pligg CMS provides social networking software that encourages visitors to register on your website so that they can submit content and connect with other users. Our software creates websites where stories are created and voted on by members, not website editors. Use Pligg content management system to start your own social networking community in minutes.

22. HayStack

Cerado is the provider of the Haystack social networking platform. Cerado Ventana connects multiple social networks, web sites, and mobile web services. It is a web-based service that connects people, information and commerce via an interface that is optimized for the iPhone.
23. People Aggregator

Broadband Mechanics’ PeopleAggregator is an experiment in building social networks around open standards so that people can easily move between networks, whether or not those networks are run by the same owners or contain the same features. If the social networking world were run the way Broadband Mechanics’ CEO Marc Canter envisions, Facebook users would easily be able to carry their identity (including all the information they owned on Facebook) over to MySpace, Orkut, and Friendster. Then any changes to their identities on those networks could be brought back over to Facebook.

24. One Site



ONEsite, a subsidiary of the hosting company Catalog.com, provides a hybrid social networking / CMS platform. The ONEsite Platform includes custom profiles, user generated content (blogs, photos, videos, forums), activity streams, groups, calendars and a points and rewards system.

ONEsite includes hosted Software as a Service components as well as APIs and Widgets that can be integrated into external systems.

ONEsite provides in-house professional services for the implementation and integration of its platforms. The company also includes an in-house technical support and moderation group

25. Kootali

Kootali is a customized and fully featured social networking script, similar to large sites like facebook, that lets you create a standalone social community site for allowing users to communicate and connect. It could be romantic, personal, professional or anything else. It gives your users the perfect environment to socialize and network with their online pals.

With the awesome features of Kootali, users can easily form a closed network under any category like work place, school, college and many more. Your users can network on the site to make, develop, and keep in touch with friends who focus on politics, religion, pets, sports and so forth.

Kootali allows your users to take an active role in building and contributing to the site content. Members can take part in discussions on hot topics, share articles, photos, and videos. Sharing snapshots and videos is a much better way to express individualism and uniqueness.

26. Chameleon

Try to look for your friends on the Earth Map, chat in the Video Chat. You will see that it is a different system, different from all the rest clone scripts out there, and if you do not want to make clone sites Chameleon is for you!

Other relevant resources

Author : Dustin Betonio

Dustin Betonio is a Translation Management graduate at University of Mindanao. His earlier career was devoted on customer service outside the information highway. Currently studying Law in the same University.

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A good choice is chameleon and NING


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PS March 17, 2013 at 10:54 am

Why did you leave out FoxPHP in your interesting list. I have read a lot about its features, price structure and support and incline to go with it. Please convince me that it is not worth it.


Ego March 7, 2013 at 1:34 am

I shared my experience using SocialEngine Php a few weeks ago in January. Here’s a further update to my earlier post.
The SE team never responded to my emails after the 1 month ‘free’ support window (most likely because I refused to pay $50 to get support to fix bugs in their software).
However they did release an update about 2 weeks ago which when installed rectified the bugs in their earlier release. So presently, the version I bought (SE4) seems to be working ok.


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Orjense January 20, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Wow! Just deciding between Social Engine and phpFox and came across this awesome blog. Sad phpFox is not on the list and I need to research more on it, but Social Engine is definitely out. Read few unflattering reviews about Social Engine but to pay them additional fees to respond to email is insane.
Anyone with info on phpFox?


Drew February 14, 2013 at 1:00 am

I’m sorry I missed this Orjense.

You’ll find that SocialEngine offers significant benefit advantages over phpfox that more than compensate for the higher price point.

(Full disclosure, I work for SocialEngine)
In terms of experience in the community building field, SocialEngine has been in business since 2007, and are at the forefront of innovation in terms of features and packages. Just check out our recent release of SE Cloud and brand spanking new API!

This has created a very active community of clients and developers who used our open platform to develop tons of cool features that enhance our core package and provide solutions other services don’t.

A quick trip to our Examples page shows you a handful of the cool communities developed with our platform from big guys like NASA to small guys like a motorcycle riding interest group.

What you can build with SocialEngine is entirely up to you.

Community Manager at SocialEngine


Rolland Arriza January 11, 2013 at 9:51 am

Thumbs up. I would like to test them all on my localhost but it would be costy. I hope you have provided a demo link for each of the social networking site platforms. Overall, the content is very good.


Ego January 9, 2013 at 3:11 am

Thanks for sharing this article. However as a recent purchaser of the Social Engine software which I bought in November 2012, I wish to warn the entire public to stay away from Social Engine. Many of the files in the installation are full of bugs and SE support is absolutely horrible. Note that after 30 days, SE will not provide support to fix bugs in their own files unless you pay them to respond to your emails. Furthermore, all attempts to reach the team via email went unresponded. SE does not have any phone number by which you can reach them.

It was quite a disappointing experience because their website looks very appealing. It was after I experienced issues with the installation that I did a proper search for reviews of previous users.

Although I paid close to $400 to launch my network using Social Engine, I am now looking for an alternative as I intend to dump SE.

Buyers be warned. Do your research very well before buying.


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Drew November 29, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Thank you for adding SocialEngine to this list!

We’ve been working so hard on SocialEngine PHP it’s really nice to included with so many other great solutions out there.

Have you seen our hosted social media platform yet? We just launched it 2 months ago and would love some feedback on it from you!


Community Manager


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Felix October 1, 2011 at 7:15 am

There are several social networking that you hadn’t mentioned in these articles which are commonly use for the community.


Lars October 1, 2011 at 9:17 am

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With all these choices, which social networking software is recomended for a beginner looking for the easiest to create with the most effective output?


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Aditya February 15, 2011 at 9:51 pm

This is an awesome blog. The introduction of Boonex would be a good addition. But all the options you explained about are cool.


rsitezsn October 6, 2010 at 6:10 pm

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aditia July 12, 2010 at 10:00 am

maybe you can add BoonEx Dolphin to list, first time i knew for some other one thanks


Colin November 29, 2012 at 10:09 am

Thanks so much for this great site, listing some good and trusted scripts. I really hope to find one and make my community site a success. Please a word of warning about Boonex Dolphin, because they are a con. If you are not able to leave my comments on your site, please at least continue to ignore the dolphin script and save your readers their time, money and sanity. Stay away from the unworking, constanly in development dolphin script. They’ve nver finished it and never will. It looks so pretty and offers lots of bells and whistles, but none of them work properly. The coding is appalling, as it has been written in sections, by total strangers, with their own methods of coding and no collaboration between them, so nothing integrates and nothing works as it should. Boonex has been listed as a scam on some websites and are linked to a previous scam comaopny called scam date? look them up. They draw gullible people into paying for licences to remove thier logo, but then never produce a totally finished script and do not offer any real customer support, to try and sort out all the problems they have with the script. How long does it take to make a fully functional script?? Bonnex have been trying for years, update after update, with actually no improvements and now recently, before the previous version was ever finished, they have just launched a completely new version, totally different from any previous version and equally as unreliable. They even advise people to use the beta versio on live sites!! so they can test it on them. How despicable. Now several weeks later, they still have not produced any updates for the mass of problems the new version has caused. They have admitted the core of the script is resourse hungry and unstable, yet have done nothing about it and every few months they release updates that fix nothing, but cause more chaos by adding new functions that still do not work. The scripts forum (one of the most important aspects of a community site) they again admit to be the worst online, as only admin can use it and most basic functions permalinks etc never work. Furthermore the script is so resourse hungry, you have to pay for a VPN if you have more than 50 online members and over 100 online members requires a dedicated server, or you will be shut down by your host. And there is another scam, because on the boonex site you will see a long list of reccommended hosts, drawing people in with $3 a month shared hosting packages, yet the moment you launch your site, it will be shut down if you exceed 50 members, due to over using resourses. You will then be bullied into taking out a VPN and then a dedicated. None of us mind paying out money if our site is doing well, but in the beginning, you have to start somewhere and most of us cannot afford dedicated servers without the advertising to bring in income and you cannot get advertising with a few members. So offereing shared webhosts is a con and obviously boonexx will get their affiliate commision for every sale. I do not know how they sleep at night. All of this information is available if you search their forums or online. Also, check out the dolphin demo. you will see that the product is so unstable they only allow 10 members on it. Also most of the demo’s features are not used and known problem areas such as the forum and shop etc only have one or two items listed, because any more and it will crash. I foolishly bought 7 licences, thinking Dolphin was the answer to my prayers, but three of the sites I set up would not work properly, even though I used the boonex team to install the script, onto host servers they recommended and also security was appalling. Despite taking out every precauton and ‘paying’ for all the security mods they recommend, all of my sites were relentlessy spammed and two sites in particular were spammed so badly, they had to be removed from the server, due to resourse hi jacking and freshly installed. I have now abondend all of my bboonex sites and am on here searching this great site for a reliable script. It is not possible to update from an older dolphin version, without going through every previous update first AND none of the MODS ‘you have to buy’ will work with the latest versions, so you have to pay again to have the mods reinstalled. Most of the modders also work for Boonex, how convenient that the mods never work with the latest version of the script, yet again another con. They have spent years dangling a big carrot to its users, promising the next big uodate which takes forever and never delivers. They have never managed to produce a stable working product. I am so glad dolphin software is not advertised here, because it is a con, beware. Look at all the complaints on their website, you’ll see what I am talking about. Sorry if this sounds like a rant, but I feel for all the other gullible people like myself, who have waisted hours and much much money on this pile of junk script. Thanks again for this great site. I reccommend people stay away from boonex and check out all the ‘finished’ working scripts on this website and I am sure you will have great success with your community.. Good luck.


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