How to integrate a community SDK into your own app
Social features are essential to any app hoping to succeed today. There is a great deal of value in connecting like-minded people to share ideas with each other, even online. To make it easier for apps to get social features off the ground, app developers often use software development kits (SDKs). These toolboxes are completely outfitted with software tools, resource libraries, and programs that integrate with third-party application programming interfaces (APIs).
With SDKs, product teams can take advantage of external service providers who specialize in delivering certain app features. But what is there to gain and how can community SDKs be installed? Let’s explore the process.
Why your app can benefit from social SDKs
An engaged app community pays off 5 times its value. However, the social dollars, user-generated content, and monetization opportunities you stand to gain won’t occur if you aren’t able to deliver social features to your users.
The biggest advantages to supercharging your community with SDKs are the time, money, and effort you save. Chatbox, comments, and video clip capabilities aren’t features that need to be built from the ground up. You can substantially boost your speed-to-market by integrating community SDKs that can be launched in a matter of weeks.
When your development team is able to skip the experimentation and debugging phase, fewer resources are required to complete the product. SDKs are essentially a plug-and-play solution to features that—while crucial to the overall app experience—are often not the principal product.
Aside from the resource savings gained from their use, social feature devkits also provide advantages such as greater scalability, detailed documentation, and data ownership.
How to integrate community SDKs into your app
There are clear advantages to using a devkit to launch social features in your community app. But how do you actually go about the integration?
Well-built SDKs come with extensive docs that outline exactly what has to be done to install and customize the feature(s). However, there’s more to the process than simply inserting a few lines of code.
The integration process begins with understanding what your app needs and getting the right people involved.
1. Determine your app’s needs
The discovery phase is the very first step of integrating any new app feature. Throughout this step, the product manager is crucial because they are responsible for investigating user needs, expectations, and motivations for using the app.
Not every app will need a customer service chatbot and video capabilities. However, many of them do. To prevent app bloat and unnecessary expenditures, consider what social features your users will benefit from the most.
Keep in mind that social features are best delivered as a full-suite solution so that every component of the community experience flows seamlessly.
2. Choose the appropriate devkit
Once you know which features your app needs, it’s time to select the best SDK for the job. Keep bloat to a minimum by only integrating the tools needed.
Language and compatibility should be considerations during the selection process. What framework does your app run on: iOS, Android, or React Native? Is the latest version compatible with your needs?
Another thing to remember is that the best SDK for your app not only offers the feature you’re seeking but is also easy to use, includes detailed documentation, and does not negatively influence a device’s CPU, battery, or data consumption.
3. Keep all related teams in the loop
When it comes to building a mobile app, product managers—along with their teams of the necessary developers, UI/UX designers, and QA engineers—manage the bulk of the work. However, building communities involves a lot more than working chat features.
It’s advisable to pull in the expertise of other departments to ensure everything is in place for launch. The comments they provide on the features you intend to integrate can be very insightful.
The marketing team needs to be informed of what features will be launched so they can publicize them. The operations team should know the timeline of the project so they can help maximize productivity. And of course, the community management team should have input on the features needed and how they will work to bring users together.
Keeping all related parties informed will make social feature integration more seamless, but remember to communicate on a need-to-know basis. Doing so ensures indirectly related teams aren’t bombarded with excess information, which may waste more time than it saves.
4. Delegate responsibilities
Building an app can be a massive project with several stakeholders involved. Clear delegation of responsibility is imperative to smooth workflow. Establish task owners and points of contact. Make sure teams know who maintains which part and who needs to be contacted when issues inevitably crop up.
Since using an API essentially means partnering with third parties, make sure you are clear on what the service providers are responsible for and how they can be contacted if something goes wrong.
5. Set response protocols in place
Development teams always aim to minimize app downtime and other issues as it can result in unhappy customers and lost sales. However, there are times when things go wrong whether when an app is launched or while it’s in the testing phase. Your team should have a set of pre-planned responses to refer to in such situations.
Knowing what to do when something goes wrong is always important, but it’s especially crucial when a new feature—such as a full social suite—is launched.
Tip: Having procedures in place for app failure is crucial, but there will be less need for them if you improve the production readiness of your service in the first place.
Given the importance of high uptime and quick response, selecting SDK service providers that have high service-level agreement (SLA) standards is paramount. Amity Social Cloud, for instance, has an average response time of 200-300 ms with an SLA of no more than 3 seconds across all APIs.
6. Review supporting materials extensively
Since devkits are supposed to make developers’ lives easier, even non-specialists can successfully deploy its features. Every SDK has a unique API that has to be installed according to how it was designed—that’s why it comes bundled with documentation outside of the code.
Most SDKs can be installed either manually or via a dependency manager such as SwiftPM, Cocoapods, or Carthage. The docs will outline exactly what needs to be done to complete the task.
You may need to follow different steps when installing SDKs on various platforms—Android, iOS, React Native, and Web all have unique operating system architectures. Having your developers review the docs extensively will maximize the chances of seamless integration.
Implement your social SDK with confidence
Social devkits are created to make your life easier, but preparation is still crucial to minimizing any hiccups along the way. To successfully integrate community features and make your own app a social platform, remember the following:
- Only incorporate features your users need.
- Select social SDKs compatible with your requirements.
- Make sure the necessary parties are informed.
- Assign clear responsibilities to your team members.
- Establish response protocols to follow when issues crop up.
- Study the supporting materials prior to implementation.
Your audience wants connection, and social features can answer that need. But integrating those features is no small matter. Since an application is a wide-scale digital product, every modification has a massive impact on its user base. It’s your job to ensure that the impact is positive and that the changes are implemented flawlessly.
Final tip: Your API providers want your integration to go smoothly too, and they’ll provide you with all the resources to make that happen! If Amity Social SDKs are your choice, take full advantage of the Developer Portal and don’t hesitate to contact the support team if you need assistance.