Homegrown Social Networks: The Big Four
Here in the United States it’s easy. Ask anyone what the top social media sites are and unless they’re digitally illiterate they’ll generally respond with “The Big Four” comprising the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ under one umbrella, with of course the additional platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, etc. being used as accompanying social network “accessories.” However we know in general that the age of singular social media accounts is dying as a recent study demonstrated the average user operates two social media accounts. While it’s true the sun never sets on Twitter, there are places in the world where posts aren’t limited by 140 character tweets. In fact, top social networks are starting to feel the societal pulse of other international digital networking sites closing in on them. The following is an overview of five international social media networks everyone should be aquatinted with:
Going Abroad: A Sample of Social Media Networks from Around the World
1. Orkut: Owned and operated by Google, this social network is designed to assist users contact new and old friends while allowing them to maintain existing relations with others. Although not very popular in the United States, it is one of the most visited websites in countries like India, Brazil, and Japan, where Orkut generates nearly 93% of its user count. Brazil, in particular, hosts the majority of Orkut’s user counts with 59.1% hailing from the largest country in both Latin and South America. We doubt Orkut is complaining about this figure either, especially after reports verifying that Brazil is now the 7th largest internet market that has surfaced this year
2. Qzone: Created by the Chinese Internet giant Tencent in 2005, Qzone allows users an abundance of functionality including blogging, photo sharing, music listening, and even diary keeping. When it comes to China and social media, the Chinese government has made it virtually impossible for outside sites to enter China-specific social networks. While there are ways to get around that, Qzone is very specific to China and its not seen outside the country. A 2009report tells us that at the time Qzone reportedly had more than 200 million active users, far surpassing international players like Facebook and Myspace.
3. Odnoklassniki: Literally translated from Russian into English as Classmates, this company serves as a social network service for current classmates and old friends. It is very popular in Russia and the surrounding countries of the former Soviet Republic as it boasts 148 million total registered users. Though the site is positioned towards an older crowd, it features great functionality as a hybrid between an older version of Facebook and Spotify.The ability for businesses to market towards clustered crowds digitally is a service very similar to that of Facebook, allowing businesses to cater towards specific age demographics.
4. Xing: Better known internationally as the German version of LinkedIn, this social media site enables a small-world network for professionals looking to connect in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland). With around 13 million active users, the site is smaller when compared to others but the platform’s functionality and the overall direction of the company hint to brighter days ahead. Last January, Xing acquired Kununu, the “Glassdoor for Germany.” By adding Kununu to their war chest, Xing will give users the opportunity to interact with an employer-rating and job listing all on one site. If they continue along this road, Xing might challenge LinkedIn for the European market.
5. Badoo: Founded in 2006 as a social discovery website, Badoo is more along the lines of a match.com dating service than anything else. It’s a location-based service that is designed to help you find people nearby who share your interests. With 130 million users worldwide and only 6 million from the U.S, the company is trying hard to rebrand itself into American culture. Regardless, the site clocks in more than 7 billion page views each month and is extremely popular in countries such as Spain, Italy, Brazil, and France.
(Note: Badoo represents a more user based social media network whereas the others include users and businesses. Businesses are not really able to utilize Badoo because it only markets towards individuals. Despite this, we feel due to its wide popularity that it was worth mentioning.)
Why Does This Matter?
So the large question remains: why does having knowledge of these international social networks assist businesses located domestically? There are two answers to this complex question
1. As stated earlier, major social networks such as Facebook are beginning to lose the societal steam they once had. Some analysts are even suggesting that Facebook might be reaching a saturation point in the U.S. When you remove users under 13 years of age and those over 65, the U.S. market share of Facebook closes in at around 80%. With only potentially 20% left of the country to conquer, the growth rate of Facebook will slow tremendously. This slower rate opens up an opportunity for social media networks looking to gain a market share in the U.S. Therefore, if these other social networks do infiltrate the American market, you may want your business to be prepared and ready to take on this new marketing venue.
2. A report by eMarketer claimed that by 2014 the global amount of active social network users would climb to 1.86 billion. The majority of this growth will occur in the Asia-Pacific and Eastern European areas where present growth is suppose to increase by 35.4%. Given the growth of foreign markets combined with the ability to reach consumers and businesses in all corners of the world using the Internet, the potential to reach new markets is only limited by a businesses capability. By using these international social networks, businesses may be able to generate more leads and sales globally just like they have using the “Big Four” domestically, extending business opportunities beyond the national realm.
What we can see using the data from market research is that the future will bring a potential change in the way social media operates. The change could vary from the actual social networking platforms businesses and consumers use to the sales market itself. Regardless of the change, businesses must acquaint themselves with large international social networks in order to better their chances at succeeding on a larger scale.