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Looking at the top 5 countries with the highest number of Internet users, we see China in the lead with 20.8% of the worlds users, the US with 13.1%, Japan with 5.5%, India with 4.7% and Brazil with 3.9%. So we thought it would be cool to look at the most popular social networks from each of those countries.


1. Renren.comThis social network is a Facebook clone and boasts over 120 million users (but bear in mind that number comes from Renren and may well be exaggerated). The network was formerly known as Xiaonei (‘inside campus’) and officially changed its name to RenRen (‘people’s web’) in August 2009. This change in name reflects the company’s plans to capture more than just the student share of the market.

2. Another huge social network, this one with a self-reported member count of 75 million. Kaixin001 is aimed mainly at white collar workers and came to popularity through its creation of popular networking games, such as Happy Farm and Slave Manor (a copy of Facebook’s Friends For Sale). In 2009, the company successfully sued the owners of Renren for unfair competition, after they bought as a domain and set up a clone site.

3. Qzone.comAlthough Qzone claims a massive 388 million users, many of these are drawn from its sister company QQ (the largest instant messenger service in China) and are dormant accounts. These networks, together with QQ Games, QQ Show and QQ Pet, are owned by the massively profitable Tencent. However, the site is badly designed and very much behind the curve compared to its competitors.

(Sources: Readwriteweb, SocialNetworkingWatch and VentureBeat)


1. Facebook Facebook has grown massively over the last few years, with a 143% growth in US accounts from 42m in 2009 to 103m in 2010. The network was founded by Mark Zuckerberg and was inspired by an offline yearbook that was informally known as ‘the face book’ (full story). Before 2006, users had to provide a college or university address in order to access the site. Since that restriction was lifted, the site’s growth in popularity has been unstoppable- you can see more stats in their Press Room.

2. Twitter Twitter is a micro-blogging service that has had an incredible growth since its launch in 2006. It was created by Jack Dorsey and now has about 26m users in the USA. Twitter is relatively unique because so many of its users access the service via third party software and/or remote devices. Twitter is also well known for its high profile users- many celebrities and politicians use the site and attract many millions of ‘followers’.

3. Myspace 2 years ago, Myspace would’ve been top of this list. Today, it still has a strong user-base of around 57 million, particularly among teenagers and musicians, but has lost out massively in terms of market share. It was founded by eUniverse employees after the success of Friendster and grew quickly. It has been widely criticised for giving too much control to the user, resulting in badly designed profile pages.


1. Mixi
Unique to Japan, Mixi has over 80% market share in the country. It’s a standard social networking site, with a diary, messaging, photo sharing etc. The network has a user counter and is at about 27m in April 2010. The name reportedly comes from a combination of ‘mix’ and ‘I’ to get across the concept of individuals getting to know each other through shared likes and dislikes.

2. Twitter launched officially in Japan in April 2008 and the service took off almost immediately. It looks like Japan might be the first country where Twitter becomes mainstream; many believe this is because the country are traditionally such avid texters. 2010 sees around 5 million active users and experts expect this number to double by the end of the year. The service also has a unique revenue model, based on users charging followers.

3. Gree Mixi has such a hold on the social space that it’s difficult to find out which other services compete. Gree is frequently referenced as the 2nd most popular social network in Japan (nb. these lists don’t include Twitter as a network). I couldn’t find any exact numbers on the number of users, but a survey on this site implies the service has about 10% of the market share. Apparently, the name ‘gree’ comes from the phrase “Six degrees of separation”.


1. Orkut
As of mid 2009, Orkut had about 17 million users in India and Indian users are responsible for about 30% of Orkut’s overall traffic. The social network is owned and operated by Google and is named after its creator, Orkut Büyükkökten.

2. Facebook Facebook is a close competitor of Orkut’s in India and seems to be gaining ground on country’s most popular social network. Last year, Livemint reported this statisitic: “According to data by ViziSense…the number of unique users per month for Orkut dropped from 16.95 million in June to 14.7 million in August, while Facebook’s user base increased by one million during the same period, from 6.92 million to 7.92 million.”

3. BharatStudent According to a 2009 report by Comscore, the third most popular social network in India is BharaStudent. As the name suggests, this network is geared towards students and has the tagline ‘Young Soul of India’.


1. Orkut This social network is even more popular in Brazil than it is in India- 51% of the site’s traffic comes from the country, which comes to around 20 million monthly visits. There are many posts about why Orkut took off so successfully in the country, but there are also an increasing number of stories about how Facebook is threatening the site’s dominance.

2. Sonico.comIn the middle of last year, Sonico announced they had over 8 million registered users in Brazil. The social network is targeted at a Latin American audience and has grown impressively since its launch in 2007.

3. MySpace According to a 2009 Neilson report, MySpace is Brazil’s third most popular social network. However, as with the US, this network is losing ground rapidly and Neilson predicts Facebook will overtake the site in the next couple of years.

Further reading:
World Map of Social Networks
The Internationalization of Social Media

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