spaces and traffic
This page highlights some of the more prominent online
social network services and operators.
It illustrates types of sites, fashions in site naming
and the unoriginality of many competitors. Context for
figures is provided by the more detailed metrics &
statistics guide elsewhere
on this site.
As of July 2006 hailed as the preeminent soft network
site (or more wildly as the "most disruptive social
happening since MTV"), MySpace has attracted over
90 million users for publishing personal profiles, photographs
and blogs. At the end
of 2007 it had an estimated 110 million monthly active
users, with 1.3 billion page views per day.
MySpace was acquired by News Corporation in 2005 for US$580m,
rough a tenth paid by Yahoo! for Geocities during the
dot-com bubble and not much
more than the US$240m that Microsoft paid for a mere 1.6%
of Facebook in 2007.
During April 2006 it was claimed to have attracted 65
million unique visitors, with members supposedly spending
an average 184 minutes on MySpace per month (compared
to four minutes at Geocities) and daily pageviews passing
the billion mark. It is claimed to gain 280,000 new users
Mike Thelwall's 2007 Social Networks, Gender and Friending:
An Analysis of MySpace Member Profiles paper (txt)
drew on analysis of over 15,043 member profiles to conclude
that the typical MySpace user is apparently female, 21,
single, interested in online friendship and visiting the
space weekly to engage with a mixed list of mainly female
Friendster - an
"an online community that connects people through
networks of friends for dating or making new friends"
- gained attention from 2003 onwards as a leader in online
soft networking but has suffered from fashion ("it's
so yesterday"), technical problems and management
is a site, similar to MySpace and Friendster, that in
advanced economies is perhaps most famous for its dominance
of the Brazilian market. It is marketed as "an online
community that connects people through a network of trusted
friends", with participation on an by invitation
Photo-sharing site Flickr
(acquired by Yahoo! in 2005 for US$30m) that popularised
keyword tagging of photographs for easy identification
and sharing "live chat together with social networks
and enabling people to share media with one another in
A MySpace for undergraduates, claiming some 50 million
members in 2007 (up from 5 million in 2005) and hyped
in late 2007 as worth US$15 billion after Microsoft paid
US$240 million for a 1.6% share. It has been parodied
in sites such as Hatebook
("an anti-social utility that connects you with the
people you hate"). By early 2010 its reported population,
apparently undeterred by an egregiously volatile privacy
policy, was 462 million people. In September 2009 Facebook
announced that it had become free cashflow positive (ie
was generating enough income to cover its operating expenses
and capital spending needs), subsequently reporting revenue
of US$900 million and a small profit in 2009.
Geocities was acquired by Yahoo! in 1999, just before
the dot-com bubble collapsed,
for a mere US$5 billion. It was established in 1995 as
a site offering individual consumers free personal web
pages, with an expectation that would form the basis of
virtual communities. It has been substantially overtaken
by more dynamic services such as Facebook.
During April 2006 it was claimed to have attracted 116
million unique visitors.
- a "business networking" site "about people
helping each other 'rise up' through quality networking"
- claimed 250,000 members in 200 countries as of May 2006.
Growth appears to have slowed; risers and strivers might
want to invest their time in the Freemasons and similar
Bebo (Blog early blog often) was founded by UK programmer
Michael Birch and Xochi Birch in 2005. By early 2007,
according to one report, it was receiving more hits in
the UK than Amazon.com or the BBC.
Bebo was sold to AOL for US$850 million in 2008. At that
time it boasted 25 million registered users, generating
3.1 billion page views per month. It is claimed to be
the most popular social networking site in New Zealand
and Ireland. By early 2010 that population was down to
12.7 million users. It was unloaded by AOL for a mere
US$10 million to Criterion Capital Partners.
Promoted as 'Flickr for video' and launched in February
2005, it has gained attention as the dominant online venue
for tagging and sharing short video clips. By the end
of June 2006 it garnered 2.8 million visitors per week.
During April 2006 the Microsoft response to Geocities
and MySpace was claimed to have attracted 101 million
Friends Reunited exemplifies the 'lost friends' category,
apparently centred on thirty and forty-somethings. It
claims 15 million users and was acquired by the ailing
ITV plc for £120 million in 2005.
Australian competitor SchoolFriends
claims over a million members and supposedly lists over
200,000 workplaces, schools, universities and sporting
(formerly Emode) offers Tarot-based "PhD certified
tests" and other compatibility tests, presumably
taken seriously by some members of its social network.
As of 2006 Paris-based Meetic claims 17 million profiles
in 13 countries for its dating services. Meetic raised
€100 million in its 2006 IPO, with revenue to €43
million in 2005 and net profit of €5.7 million.
- "organizing local interest groups" - boasts
that it is "a free service that organizes local gatherings
about anything, anywhere". It claims over 1.18 million
members in 51 countries.
Tribe brashly proclaims that it is a space to "Get
connected - invite your friends & family and watch
your personal network grow". Who needs Tupperware
parties, apparently, when with Tribe you can "Get
recommendations from your friends (and their friends).
Find local events. Buy or sell anything in the free classified
"keeps you in-touch and up-to-date!" with business
Plaxo was founded in 2001 by Todd Masonis, Cameron Ring
and Sean Parker (the latter was a co-founder of Napster).
In 2007 Plaxo moved unsteadily from specialisation in
keeping electronic address books up-to-date, which had
resulted in criticism that it was address-scraping and
that it engaged in a form of spamming by sending millions
of email messages on behalf of its participants. Its new
Plaxo Pulse service sought to aggregate information for
participants from MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Digg and
similarly offers to apparently aimed at salespeople, who
are invited to "Harness the power of your enterprise
relationship network to increase deal close rates, improve
deal velocity and grow top-line revenue". ZeroDegrees
similarly helps members to "close deals faster, find
a job, make a sale. Meet new people through people you
know. Fast, easy and safe".
is another SNS claiming to leverage "the true power
of the professional network you already have". As
of late 2007 around 18 million people had profiles on
its site. It has been criticised as little more than a
tool for recruiters and little different to jobsearch
sites such as HotJobs or Monster.com. Along with ads LinkedIn
lets employment recruiters and others pay for expanded
access to LinkedIn members.
- "the Insiders Network" - offers opportunities
to "Build and maintain your professional, personal
profile and peer network in the AO Zaibatsu". Fine
if the insiders want to rebuild the Great East Asian Co-prosperity
Sphere, otherwise perhaps not.
chants the same mantras about special access to business
decisionmakers - "unprecedented reach ... allowing
sales teams to discreetly leverage the relationship capital
of the enterprise throughout the sales cycle".
thumps a revivalist tub, announcing "If you are a
driven person with high aspiration for massive success,
We can help you!" through "a set of business
networking tools" for entrepreneurial-minded individuals
supposedly provides a venue where "25 million users
re-connect with friends and family"
(echoed by Catster.com and Hamsterster.com but, as yet,
not by ratster.com or batster.com) claims some 250,000
users (supposedly including 200,000 dogs). Dogs may register
for free or premium accounts, publish blogs, post photographs
or use forums to discuss issues that include health, obedience,
fashion and movies.
Stardoll is "a community for girls who want to play
with dolls", claimed as having upwards of one million
members (girls aged 7-18) - "They're coming three
times a week, and they're spending an hour a visit".
Don't miss the Camilla Parker Bowles doll.
occupies a niche for some 560,000 fans of purple lipstick
and "gothic industrial culture".
Catster.com, "where every cat has a homepage,"
boasts over 125,000 cat profiles as of July 2007.
Spark Networks is a US-based SNS operator that was founded
in 1997 and has expanded through establishment or acquisition
of 'relationship' sites such as the JDate.com, sites like
AmericanSingles.com, BlackSingles.com, ChristianMingle.com
and LDSMingle.com. As of 2007 it was reported to have
an aggregate 2.45 million unique visitors per month, with
net income in 2006 of US$6.56 million and revenue of $68.85
Sermo, a social network for doctors, features a partnership
with Pfizer. Doctors use the service to discuss diagnoses
and treatments with their peers, with the operators making
money by letting paying clients such as pharmaceutical
companies "listen in" on the those exchanges.
The site pays doctors US$100 for highly rated postings.
Various, acquired by Penthouse Media Group for US$500
million in 2007, operates over 25 networking sites - from
adultfriendfinder to bigchurch.com - with a claimed member
base of 260 million consumers (including 1.2 million paying
US metrics specialist
Hitwise claimed that US traffic share of the 'top 20 social
networking sites' in February 2007 was as follows -
MySpace - 80.74%
Facebook - 10.32%
Bebo - 1.18%
BlackPlanet.com - 0.88%
Xanga - 0.87%
iMeem - 0.73%
Yahoo! 360 - 0.72%
Classmates - 0.72%
hi5 - 0.69%
Tagged - 0.67%
LiveJournal - 0.49%
Gaiaonline.com - 0.48%
Friendster - 0.34%
Orkut - 0.26%
Live Spaces - 0.18%
HoverSpot - 0.18%
Buzznet - 0.18%
Sconex - 0.14%
MiGente.com - 0.11%
myYearbook - 0.11%