The top social networks this month, MySpace still dominates..

You know, we don’t talk about MySpace the way we used to. At least I don’t. Perhaps because there are so many great social media stories out there since MySpace came on the scene. One thing though you cannot ignore is MySpace traffic.  the bottom line being that MySpace receives a massive amount of visits; In addition to receiving over 25% more visits-per-visitor a month than Facebook, the site jumped to 72 million unique visitors in June, generating over 1.3 billion total visits. That, my friends, is a lot of traffic.

With that being said, lets look at the numbers as compiled by our friends over at Compete these numbers might seem a little out of whack, but they base the rankings on amount of attention as well as traffic. Thats why some might appear to have more traffic than others. the bottom 10 have more of an ethnic diverse, niche like quality than the top 10 as well.

But given the rush to crank out a social networking group these days, being ranked anywhere in the top 20 is not such a bad thing. It may actually mean you’re making money!

  1. Myspace with over 72 million visitors per month.
  2. Facebook with 22 million visitors
  3. Bebo with 3.5 million
  4. Tagged with 3.3 million
  5. BlackPlanet with 1.9 million visitors
  6. myYearbook with 2.89 million visitors
  7. hi5 had 2.98 million visitors
  8. Classmates had 11 million visitors
  9. Friendster had 1.3 million visitors
  10. Xanga had 3.7 million visitors
  11. Orkut, intrestingly enough had 460,000, but was ranked 11th.
  12. Asiantown came in at 147,949 visitors
  13. Flixter had 3 million visitors
  14. Migente had 1.2 million visitors
  15. Reunion tracked 6.2 million visitors
  16. Quepasa had 177,000 visitors
  17. Tickle had 2.1 million
  18. Piczo had 660,000 visitors
  19. Multiply had 656,000 visitors and last but ceratinly not least and somewhat surprising is
  20. Linkedin at 1.4 million visitors

How many of you have been to these sites and have given them a test drive? Which user interface makes sense? Which do you see continuing to grow and which do not have a snowballs chance in hell? Personally, I may check out Multiply, the rest I am somewhat familiar with, with the exception of the hispanic sites. I am surprised as well by where Orkut is. With summer being a time when we spend more time outside than in, lets regroup in September and see where we’re at.

The funnel theory with social networks

 Check out my man here. He’s heard a lot about social networks and he wants to check them out. He’s not sure why he should, he just knows that everyone is talking about them, they use them to meet people and they use to talk to friends and relatives and it is THE Thing to do! But where should he start. What social network is right for him? Should he do some research? If he does he’s going to find differing opinions from all over the place.  He’ll hear about the notion that Linkedin is not Facebook for grownups 

Or maybe he saw this video that parodies Facebook? And now he’s all WTF is Facebook about? 

 

 The bottom line is  that when you decide to Join the online social community, this is what happens:

You are a lone individual that is joining a community of individuals. At that point, it is now up to you to join the conversation. But joining the conversation does not mean that you are, in theory “part” of the conversation. You could move your way up the social media spiral but that would mean that you are doing a majority, or want to do a majority of the below stages of the spiral:

 But you don’t need to. You just want to know what it all means and where you fit in. You just want to know, what exactly is a social network? Let’s segue to our friends from Common Craft shall we?

Ok so now you have an idea but what should you do now? Maybe, just maybe you could jump into a social network, but do you even know which one? Here is a quick primer of two of the more popular social networking sites. Honestly though, if I’m explaining this, you have to be living in a freakin cave. But I digress..

If you’re going to use Facebook  then you need to know that it has more than 60 million active users, an average of 250,000 new registrations per day since Jan. 2007 and over 55,000 regional, work-related, collegiate, and high school networks. More than half of Facebook users are outside of college and the fastest growing demographic is those 25 years old and older. Is that too large for you?

If your cup of tea might be MySpace maybe you should know that it has more than 110 million monthly active users around the globe, however, 85% of MySpace users are of voting age (18 or older) One in four Americans is on MySpace. MySpace is translated in more than 20 international territories: U.S., UK, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, MySpace en Espanol, Latin America, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

But thats just 2 of the big ones that I’m sure you have heard about. Here is a nice breakdown of the top social sites provided by compete

In the end, you should check out each one and see if it fits the criteria you want in your selection of a social network. It will be up to you to decide which one fits you the best. Because in reality, this is how the social networking funnel should look:

 Ultimately, and you will see, if not already, that the best way to thrive in a social networking setting is to be amongst people that are of like mind and spirit. Thats why if you are in your mid 30’s and love reading books and are more concerned about what is in your 401k, maybe MySpace ain’t the ticket.  Eventually we will all have our own sense of where we should be within a social network, it’s merely up to you to find your way and craft, meld and shape your online indentity in the social network that makes sense to YOU.

Social Diversity on Social Networks

First, let me talk about how I just tried to publish this and poof it was gone, so I am having to rewrite it. But it’s also giving me more time to think about whether social diversity exists online in social networks. My gut reaction is that online social networks are direct reflections of the offline world and thus we run with our own pack and very seldom do we like to step out of the bubble. Heres a quick test: Try doing a search on social diversity in social networks, there are no results or better yet, nothing with any substance. 

Although in doing an initial search, I did come across an interesting site called Mixyourworlds. The title should say it all but Mixyourworlds goal is to “put the fun back in racial profiling”. I say that tongue in cheek but they are dead serious. Mixyourworlds wants to help its members create diverse friend groups while helping them realize and change their racial biases. In fact it’s tagline is “Can racial profiling be fun?”

A noble if not challenging task to say the least. Especially when there are many many other larger, more well known social networks out there. Yes but are they diverse? That’s tough to say. But interestingly enough, when searching for friends on Facebook for example, you cannot search based on race. And why should you? or should you? I understand the premise. We want you to search on people not race, creed, or color.  Which means that you can search on people, just people… People with like minded interests but who may have a different skin color or ethnic background. You won’t know until you see their picture. Then you’ll make your snap or accelerated decision.

 But if we like to hang with people who are like us, another question arises, Do mixed race, mixed ethnicity relationships work better in social networks? Do they have a better chance of making it?

They do if the social network is niche based. They might have a better chance to flourish. Businessweek broaches the subject in the Rise of Niche Social Networks But really what we are talking about are 2 types of social networks here. We’re talking about the pasty white networks that are Facebook and MySpace and then all of the “other” social networks. Mixyourworlds’s “racial profiling” for instance, comes from tracking the make-up of users’ friends on the site and pointing out racial attraction preferences and biases. So if your looking to expand your social base beyond what MySpace and Facebook offer, then the thinking is that “yes there are plenty of other niche sites out there to meet exactly what you are looking for”. I know that is a direct conflict in trying to create a harmonious online social networking experience, but that may be more of a reflection of 21st century society than we care to admit.

After thinking about this long and hard, I decided to throw the question out to my Linkedin colleagues a few weeks ago.  The question wasn’t geared towards diversity in social networks per se, but you will understand the context as you read further. Here was the question:

Can social networking help the poor and the disadvantaged?

On the surface social networking seems to be reaching the far corners of the universe. But are the poor, the disadvantaged and even minorities, operating on an even playing field? Do class distinctions hold steady even in social networks?

One of the better answers came from Jason Breed from Neighborhood America:

Good question. I will answer in a couple of ways.
1. I’m making a couple of assumptions – it seems the spirit of your question is genuine and I do not believe you are trying to insight any prejudice or tensions by grouping anything together, you simply want to know if and where social nets are leveling the playing field and are there still inequities. the other assumption is that by “social networking” you are referring to digital social networking. In both of these cases, I”ll give you some examples where it has worked.
2. Case Studies (and a couple of different ways to think about it) – MOBILE – adidas has a campaign running “Basketball is a Brotherhood” targeted to basketball players at the street level or street-ballers. there is a mobile component to this campaign that lets you interact with any of the 5 sponsored players like T-Mac, KG, Chauncey Billups, etc. They have received over 100k people who have opted in via mobile that is a series of ongoing interactions. Consider Mobile as a way to engage populations who are less likely to be online or who want to connect whenever, however they want to.
The second example is the Government (believe it or not). Specifically working in the Miami area, the transportation department is mandated to reach out to citizens and provide fair access to information on any project and specifically on a road project that spanned 7 different neighborhoods of varying socio-economic and demographic residents. Using the web, the department was able to create dialogue with residents who were comfortable using the web in this way. The benefit is they were able to focus their limited amount of employees to meet face-to-face with more of the people who did not want to communicate via the web. This is in-direct however very effective use of social media in the gov sector. Who would have thought, right? I have dozens of other examples too. Hope this helps.

A great response that touches on a few points there. The most important being that social diversity can exist on may levels in online social networks, and is and can be accessible by more than just the privledged, affluent, white middle and upper class. Tom Ford, CEO of Town Connect puts it more succintly:

Interesting question. The public Internet and sites like MySpace remove economic, class and social barriers. Since anyone with internet access can interact with anyone else with Internet access.  People are communicating online with others that they would never interact with offline.

In the U.S, class distinctions are determined by wealth, income, education, and type of occupation.

Although Linked In enables greater interaction between classes (CEOs connecting with entry level workers) it still remains a social network for educated, higher income, knowledge workers.

Facebook began as a network for class distinction based on education – each university was their own network. The students at Harvard weren’t friending the kids at Podunk State in rural U.S. Today, networks are still established based on class distinctions – corporate, geographic, etc.

Our research and experience with TownConnect indicates people feel safest in social networks in their local community and with those they know. The class distinction in our network is based on where you live- which implies a level of income. Online social networks are mirrors of offline social networks, just accelerated.

Accelerated relationships. Couldn’t have said it any better than that. So do accelerated relationships promote the possibility of social diversity? No, if anything they imply that you make a quicker decision based on quick touch points, like ASL. People cut to the chase online and probablly as much do the same when reading profiles. You read a profile, you look for certain things. If you do not have access to a profile then what do you do, you look at a picture. Then you are going to make a decision based on that picture and nothing else. Looks like an accelerated decision is at hand.

Bottom line, social diversity in social networks probably has a better chance of succeeding online than it does offline since you can go out of the hood without the usual fear and backlash that accompanies someone who does the same in the offline world. Bottom line: We choose to run with our own pack even in the online world.

 

 

 

Social Media begs the following 50 questions:

Below are 50 questions that prior to the creation of social networks, had no home. But now, all of these questions have a relavent place in the hiearchy that is “social networking” and thus needed to be answered. Because, though there are millions upon millions of people out there that know about social networks, there are millions that are clueless. Before we start answering these questions, are there any that I might have neglected or forgot to ask? Let’s get to it then.

  • What is a social network? For this answer we head to Youtube. You can watch it now, or come back to it.

 

  • Is it like MySpace? Well maybe we should qualify what MySpace is!
  • What’s Facebook?
  • Is it like blogging? Hmmmm…first, let’s explain what blogging is!
  • How does it work? Social networks are  networks of relationships that we have formed that tie us to others that may have a something in common with us. Think the 6 degrees of separation game. Think about what happens when you meet someone new. You ask where they work, where they grew up, where they went to school etc etc. Eventually, you realize that this person knows the girl that you work with and is a relative of your best friends boss.  Even though you’ve never met before, you’re both part of the same social network — a friend of a friend if you will. So, Social-networking sites “make off-line relationships more transparent” by allowing us to see (with pictures, videos and links) who our friends are, who our friends’ friends are, and who our friends’ friends’ friends are — all in a supposed easy-to-use format. Like a MySpace or Facebook. When you create a profile on a social-networking site, you are putting yourself out there and saying, “Hey world here I am, who knows me? and who wants to be my friend? and who do you know?” You can use the social site to:
    • look up old friends; make new ones
    • share music, photos and videos
    • join groups based on interests such as politics, hobbies, sports, religion or pets.
    • find jobs or love; or network with other professionals.
  • Are you on MySpace or Facebook? If you are 18-34, This might be one of the key face to face questions you may ask of someone within the first 5 minutes of meeting them.
  • What do I do with it? Here is an interesting response from Marcel de Ruiter and his blog Shaping Thoughts
  • How many social networks can I join? According to Mashable, last year there were 350 that they thought were worth mentioning, but I imagine that that number has grown exponentially. Pick your niche and I bet you can find a social network for it!
  • How many hours should I spend in social networks? Although Jennifer Laycock has some thoughts on this, I’d say this depends on what you want to get out of your social network. Depending on the number of social networks you join, you really should pick just a few and develop those. It really should amount to time spent once you are home from work or school. But not to the extent that your school work or your job performance starts to suffer.
  • How can I grow my business with social networks? Entrepreneur.com has a great piece on how to grow your business using social media. But make sure you have a firm foundation and understanding of what you are getting into before setting out. This also will allow you to ask better questions, should you choose to have someone grow your business with the help of social media.
  • What is the value proposition of being in a social network? According to Jill Konrath “A value proposition is a clear statement of the tangible results a customer gets from using your products or services. The more specific your value proposition is, the better. ”  However Jim Long seems to have nailed by saying that “At the end of the day, isn’t the value proposition that it connects people on a deeply personal level across time and geography? I think so, Jim…
  • What do I get? It all depends on what you want. Just like anything else, what you get out of it is in direct proportion to what you put into it.
  • Am I spending my time properly by being in or on a social network? A great post on this sits here, titled “Avoiding information and conversational overload from social media” My thanks again to Jennifer Laycock
  • Am I using it right? There is no right way or wrong way, though if you do nothing with a page that you have created, then chances are, not much will happen with it. Remember, the essence of social networking is to find your voice and find others who have the same voice. Finding others just like you is one of the primal instincts of mankind and animals alike. We like to run with our packs. Find your pack and the experience will be golden.
  • Am I using it wrong? See the above answer.
  • How do I know the difference between Facebook and MySpace?. Chris Salazar has an excellent post on this exact question, so for those who truly do not know the difference between the two check it out.
  • Do the developers really know what I want and care about on a social network? Of course they do… to a certain extent. Social networking sites are not successful unless they know or have an idea what people want. And ever since Facebook opened up their development platforms, the widgets are flying in. Widgets expand the things that you can do with your page and actually help you network with others.
  • Do I care what they do with my information? You should, so watch this:

 

  • If I am not on a social network, will I be scorned? Absolutely not. One of the biggest constraints to SN is the allocation of time that one has to set aside to “do this”. If you don’t have time, then thats fine. That would generally mean that you have your days and evenings filled with work, school and family obligations, in which case, there is nothing you can do about it and bridges will not be burned if you are not part of a social network.
  • Should I worry about social media and its effect on children? If you are a parent, if you do not do anything, then it’s like swimming in an undertow, you swim at your own risk. To not monitor what your children are doing online, not only in a social network setting, but in general, is foolish and ignorant. For more information on this subject try Connect Safely
  • What about predators in social networks? All you need to know on this subject can be found on the link, but if you are a parent you need to be vigilant and if you are a kid, just be smart.
  • Is social media measurable? According to Jeremiah Owyang “For many marketers who want to deploy a campaign on a social network, access to server metrics isn’t always available. As a result, they have to often visually monitor the interaction on the site, or measure click throughs to their site. In some of the more sophisticated platforms, a crude dashboard is provided.”
  • Is there a niche site out there for me? If so what can I do with a social networking site that is geared especially to my interests? There are tons of niche sites, in fact, in this blog, if you do a search and just title it top social sites, you should find something, better yet, here are the latest numbers for February of the top 25 social networking sites.
  • Isn’t it the same thing as chat and online forums and bbs’s? Yes and no. That is more Web 1.0 and social networking sites are more Web 2.0. Bbs’s are and were more static and had zero real time applications to them. Chat is and was real time but did not have the other tools attached to make the chat expereince more interactive and fullfilling. Social networks are more about sharing and creating and communicating. Its more about user generated content. Chat is just what it is, it’s talking and nothing more, to a certain extent.
  • It’s difficult for me to use, isn’t there a simpler way of doing it? Its going to get easier. As each iteration of social media evolves it will become more user friendly, more intuitive, and easier to set up. Remember, we are talking about something that is still really in its infancy.
  • Are there social networks for minorities? There are, though social networks are not, for the most part, geared towards any specific race, creed or color. There are some social networks, however.  that are geared more towards people of color. A primary example of this would be Black planet
  • If social networks are so cool, then shouldn’t they be available to the disadvantaged? That’s a great question and one that needs to be thrown out there for more discussion. Stanford University, touches on it here, but not to the level that it really deserves.
  • Will society eventually look down upon people who are not associated with a particular social network? I hope not, but if were to look into my crystal ball, it would seem to be heading towards a society where each person has a social network that he or she is a part of. To the degree that eventually your ID and who you are is also supported by your social network. Similar to Second Life, your social network will define you as much as your offline persona.
  • Why do I need it? You don’t. It’s a choice that you will come to on your own, once you get done reading the news, answering your email, doing a search, paying your bills and looking for flights.
  • What should I do with it? Again, it’s entirely up to you. Do nothing or you can do a little, or you can jump in with both feet. It’s your choice.
  • How is it going to improve my quality of life? The quality of your life is often defined by your friends and family and your job. Taking those 3 into the context of a social networking setting you could: Connect with friends you have not seen in a long time. Improve your relationships with existing friends.  You can connect with relatives that do not live close by. and lastly you can connect and use the power of social networks to either network with colleagues, find a new job, or improve the job or career you have now. How’s that?
  • How far can I take it? The possibilites are really quite endless.
  • What is the shelf-life for a social network? As of this writing, the big boys have no reason to believe that things will not get even better. However for the niche sites, because the business model is often supported by ad revenues, it will be tough. Though niche sites have a great value proposition, the numbers in regards to people will have to be somewhat strong for them to survive. And that remains to be seen.
  • Should I wait before I jump into a social network? You can take baby steps. You can try out some smaller sites or niche sites or even a shopping site for instance to just get a feel for what types of information is required, how much of yourself you want to put “out there” and what to expect in return. You will find that the larger sites are much more active, but in some cases, might be overwhelming. Take your time. Poke around.
  • If I was to use a social network, what would be the best one to use and why? A good question, Obviously the top 2 are always referenced but start with this top 25 and see if in the list, there is one that might catch your eye.
  • What separates a good social network from a bad one? Users, tools, content, and the technology. Is it always down? aAe there many users to begin with? What are some of the tools, widgets and applications they are offering that make a social network so fun to use? do they have a lot, a little? Ask yourself if this is the right group for you and go from there. Do some sleuthing, sign up and see, if not, just walk away.
  • Whats a widget and why do I care? You should. It’s what makes a social media experience that much richer. To quote Wikipedia just once, “A widget adds some content to that page that is not static. Other terms used to describe web widgets including: gadget, badge, module, capsule, snippet, mini and flake. Web widgets often but not always use DHTML, JavaScript, or Adobe Flash
  • Whats a mashup? Almost to the tee, a mashup is a way of combining more than one type of app with another to create a completely unique application.  It combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool;  thereby creating a new and distinct web service that was not originally provided by either source. A classic example of a mashup is the combining of peanut butter and chocolate.. what did we get?   Fill in the blank____________
  • Does that matter to me? Yes and know, eventually all that you will want may be the result of a mashup.
  • How do I even attempt to create my own “page”? Thats the beauty of CMS and user generated content. No offense, but developers have really dumbed it down so that it really is quite simple to create and make your own page. And if you make a mistake, you can always go back and start over. Nothing is rarely etched in stone.
  • What kinds of time does it take to devote to social networking? Your time management skills will be tested, especially if you find your voice and your peeps. Eventually you may find yourself doing nothing but rushing home and jumping on your machine to check out your page and any action that might be associated with it. If it starts to hinder work and school, then you need to chill. Plain and simple.
  • Will corporate America take over social networks? It has to a certain degree With Newscorp buying MySpace and Microsoft sinking millions into an ad deal with Facebook, it’s inevitable that it is to happen. There is a lot of money at stake to be made and to lose, and corporate America isn’t about losing propositions. Can you say Murdoch and Gates?
  • Is there a place for social networks in society? Or is it a fad? They are here to stay. Though the social networks that you see now, may not be the social networks you see in 5 years. A lot can and will alter and change the look and feel and especially the technology running these networks, so stay tuned.
  • Don’t web developers just use it for driving traffic to websites? Some do. Social Media and Search engines have a major love-fest going on and it did not take search marketers long to figure that out.
  • Aren’t social media sites like just for collecting names so that I get hit on by advertisers? Yes and no. But right now that is the revenue model for most highly trafficed sites. Don’t forget, all of the sites we are talking about are free, so how else are they supposed to make money? Advertising and having access to the user information drives that train.
  • Will it help me get a job? There is a nice niche group of business related social networking sites. So the answer is yes.
  • Can I get famous? Maybe for the wrong reasons, though some seem to have carved out a niche for themselves say for example on You Tube.
  • Can I get a date? It’s possible, there are some social sites geared towards dating. Facebook actually has that potential, so we’ll go ahead and say yes.
  • Can I make lots of money? Again it’s possible. The potential lies within you, to leverage it the way you see fit.
  • It’s used to build brands right? Absolutely. Marketers are starting to realize that using social networks to build, promote and grow brands is and can be a very effective way to reach a sometimes unapproachable and skeptical audience.
  • Social networks are set up to influence purchasing decisions right? They can be. They can be used to support and promote products that ultimately you the consumer may buy. More and more marketers are setting up product-centric social networks in which the users are consumers and buyers of that product.
  • Why should I join one? Because everyone else seems to be talking about it and to not at least experience the power of it wouldn’t be any fun.

 

Well there you have it. Some answers are better than others. Some require more elaboration than I was willing to give and ultimately, I  may have left out a few that did not come to mind. That’s why you people are here. To help me out, to grow a powerful KB for those who do not know enough about the power of the social network.

Cheers

Are social networks good for society?

Some claim that being in a social network closes us off from the rest of society. To a certain degreee that might be true. In this freakonomics blog post find out what 6 distinguished social media observers feel are the pros, the cons, the good the bad and the ugly of what social networks bring to the table.