Considering the plunge into social media? Check out this world map of social networking website usage over at Le Monde. The map is in French but I bet you’ll get the idea.
How do you make use of this information besides practicing your French? Well one way, if you have a global market, is to consider targeting your audience where they hang out. In particular note how Europe’s use of social networking varies from our own.
Another thing to look at is domestic (meaning US in my case) usage of social networking sites. Here in the US, Facebook gets a lot of attention but is significantly behind MySpace. Does that mean you should ditch your Facebook account and head over to MySpace? Depends. Different sites are used by different audiences and for different purposes. Do some research to see if your target audience is more prevalent on whichever site you devote your time to.
Also keep an eye on the future. Orkut, the dominating social networking site of Latin America, is operated by Google. Google has announced a system by which various social networking sites (including MySpace and LinkedIn but conspicuously not including Facebook) can share data to make a more seamless social networking experience. That’s a complicated way to say “you don’t have to log in and make 20 different profiles.”
The social networking landscape will change. A number of years ago we were all using SixDegrees, then a rash of LiveJournal/blog systems, then Friendster which imploded as MySpace picked up. Facebook looks poised to take over from there. The thing to keep an eye on, if you intend to use these systems for marketing, is make sure you’re devoting the most time/resources to the site that has the most leads for your business, which may not be the most popular.