Decide whether you want to roll a social network around a business or hobby. This will help determine which network developer you choose.
Find a social network developer that serves your interests and brand best. Layout and editorial control are major factors when it comes to selecting a host. Time frames matter, too, as some network developers are geared toward meetings and conferences.
Once a developer has been chosen, creating an account shouldn't be a hassle. If it takes more than three steps, then it isn't worth it. Many services, like Ning and Snappville, are free and make a profit from advertising -- not member fees.
Most networking hosts offer layout modifications, whether it's as simple as drag-and-drop or as difficult as tinkering with HTML coding. Design a site that will attract the audience you're targeting and define your brand through your creativity.
Add some photos, videos, and other media to keep the network fresh and informative. While it's necessary to include basic information about the group you want to jumpstart, no one wants to read a bunch of text. Keep it simple and interesting.
Now that you have some substance, its time to network! Invite people you think would be interested in the group first and make sure they're influencers and will invite others. This will help your member base to multiply exponentially, ensuring heavy traffic to your social network.
Make sure you keep adding multimedia and provocative information to the group weekly, even daily, depending on your audience and topic. You need to keep it newsworthy and fresh to maintain your network.
Offer a means of generating and collecting member feedback, so your community can suggest what they want to get out of the network. Find out what issues members have with the site and what innovations you can make. This can be a poll, a message board, or even a contest. Be creative!