When we talk about social networks, we are talking about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Myspace. Usually in that order. Let’s take a look at their number of users. Facebook is obviously the Goliath in the room.

These big four social networks are the most social, most active, most feature rich communities. Or are they? They certainly are the full featured social networks in the traditional sense. But there are many quiet communities out there that are building very significant numbers.

Should we be giving more thought to these quiet social networks?

Some things to consider

  • Pandora is growing their member base faster than LinkedIn
  • Farmville has more active monthly users than Twitter
  • Gmail will soon be larger than Myspace

Yes, Pandora is just for music and has not built in many social tools. And Farmville is just a game with little interactions outside of clicking on farm images. And Gmail is private and email and not a basis for a true social network.

This is the thing though. These are massive user bases. And they are highly active user bases. A much larger percentage of Farmville and Gmail uses are active daily users than Twitter and LinkedIn.

Gmail is of course the biggest threat to somehow leverage this user base into a traditional social network, as recent rumors have Google entering the social networking sphere with a new product soon.

But anywhere you have these types of numbers in a community, already interacting with media or other people, and there are possibilities for marketers, for investment, and for integration.

What communities are you seeing quietly acquire large audiences?

 

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  • http://twitter.com/MNGurl1183 Katie Little

    From what I have heard from other social media friends, it seems a lot of teenagers are still apart of Myspace, and maybe that continues to be their playground to say as there is more hype over Facebook.

    Its interesting because on the 2nd chart, I wouldn't consider most of them besides Facebook, Twitter, linkedin, myspace.

    I sorta can understand Pandora as you share music, plus Farmville you play

    But Gmail? not sure about that.

  • http://steveplunkett.com @steveplunkett

    good post. =) i've been doing a lot of food research and there is a whole social food world out there.. basically it all comes down to search, optimize all content across all networks, large and small

  • http://www.facebook.com/mspeer Matt Speer

    Google does have a lot of the pieces to make a social network already in place. They have Blogger, Buzz, Picasa, Profiles, Sites, Reader, News, Groups, Talk, Calendar, YouTube and a couple of others. What they need is to be able figure out how to tie all these together in a cohesive whole. I think that is going to be hard to do.

    Right now it is just a jumble of disjointed siloed services. Connecting them together and combining the content is a challenge.

  • http://www.techguerilla.com/ Matt Ridings – Techguerilla

    I think one could have a dialog on exactly what constitutes a “social network” in the first place (someone should write a post on that in fact!….oh yeah :)

    But end of the day, the better question as a marketer is “who cares”, there are large audiences that you may not be tapping into as a marketer so can you leverage them. Social, schmocial.

  • http://twitter.com/Atomicdust Atomicdust

    Do the Gmail numbers account for Google Buzz? I am not really a fan of it, but I know whenever I 'star' items in my Google Reader, it is sharing it on Buzz, so technically I'm a user. I don't really know anyone else using it, but it could get more popular.

    And I saw a 7-11 promotion recently where they used Farmville points (or whatever the rewards are in that game) as a prize. It was something like buy a Slurpee, get some points. Really simple, but I'm sure those super active Farmville users loved it!

    And as for new networks, I've recently seen the power of Yelp. I was invited to one of their Elite events (for active users) and was blown away by the sense of community and ownership these 'Yelpers' have over the site. Here in Saint Louis, we have a community manager (Abby, @yelpstlouis), and I think that helps. Yelp here is becoming more than just a review site, it is becoming a community of users.

    -Danielle
    Online Account Coordinator, Atomicdust
    St. Louis, Mo.

  • http://richardrbecker.com/ Rich Becker

    Jason,

    We ought to be giving thought to dozens more. Much like social media in general, there is a long tail for social networks. And you can develop a presence anywhere.

    When I was working on a indie film, the majority of connections made were often on fan forum boards for the stars appearing in the film.

    By comparison, Facebook and Twitter were non existent. Great post.

    Rich

  • http://jasonkeath.com jakrose

    Katie, I include Gmail because it is such an active tool for most people.
    And once you have a gmail account, you also have a Google account, meaning
    they have the chance to loop you into their Reader, Youtube, Calendar, Buzz,
    and what looks to be the basis of their new social network, Profiles.

    It is less about Gmail and more about the fact that Google has all these
    active users on their products. If they roll out a social network that is
    decent, they have an amazing opportunity to convert this user base into
    easily the second largest social network and finally create a platform that
    can compete with Facebook.

  • http://www.technicktips.com Nick

    Has anyone had any luck with using Pandora as a social media platform? This is the first time I've heard it referred to in that way.

    -Nick Rosener

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Good stuff. Blip is one of my favorite social networks. It's not as feature rich as others, but it's built around passion (music) and it's a good place to meet audiences I'm not meeting on more “work-related” networks like Twitter. Plus, it has badges, like Foursquare and GoWalla, which hooks me despite my best efforts.

    And don't forget the thousands of small networks built on Ning, which is a pretty feature-rich platform itself.

  • socialstacy

    I always thought Twitter was ahead of Myspace – you hear so many people talk about only Twitter and FB now, never Myspace.

  • http://www.technickconsulting.com Nick Rosener

    This is my impression too… In my opinion, the popularity of myspace is waning. They do have a strong niche in serving bands, because they have music hosting services.

    Compared to twitter and facebook, they are much less popular.

  • http://seanseo.com Sean SEO Marketer

    I can't believe if there is another network besides facebook that is bigger than Twitter! What are the metrics you had considered in showing these figures? Of course myspace has good play in social networks but is it bigger that Twitter?

  • http://jasonkeath.com jakrose

    Agreed Steve. SEO is a big key to bringing in new audience members for any community. And Food blogging, food communities are surely primed for big growth this year.

  • http://jasonkeath.com jakrose

    The specific best investment for any given brand is an odd thing. It can be all over the map. Agreed. I was talking mainly about broader investment by large brands. But it is important for all companies to consider the best investment for them.

  • http://jasonkeath.com jakrose

    I doubt it Nick. I was more referencing large untapped communities. Pandora could turn on a couple features, or connect to other existing networks even more (like they already do with Facebook) and it would be a powerful asset.

  • http://jasonkeath.com jakrose

    Blip is a great example Scott. I think many of these untapped audiences has great opportunity just sitting there.

  • http://jasonkeath.com jakrose

    You still consider Twitter less worthwhile than Myspace? Myspace's audience has been dropping like a rock.

  • http://jasonkeath.com jakrose

    Nice point Nick. I would wager that most of Myspace's music audience is now on youtube and to a lesser extent Facebook.

  • http://jasonkeath.com jakrose

    These are all official number reported or attributed to the specific networks in question. Twitter has one of the smallest monthly active user numbers in this entire list.

  • http://jasonkeath.com jakrose

    The gmail numbers have nothing to do with Google Buzz.

    It is interesting to see the Farmville promotions with consumer goods. Curious to see if that continues of if it fails out of the blocks.

    Yelp is clearing a very strong network, hence why Google tried to buy them. I think they have some of their best years ahead of them as well. A quiet, yet strong community indeed.

  • http://jasonkeath.com jakrose

    That would be a great post Matt. = )

    I think what I am referencing for the most part here is better described as untapped large communities that could easily be leveraged with better social integration. Either with social tools on the existing communities or by integrating with other platforms.

  • http://htto://socialfresh.com sofresh

    Agreed Steve. SEO is a big key to bringing in new audience members for any community. And Food blogging, food communities are surely primed for big growth this year.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501081880 Will O'Neill

    I understand what you're saying with this post, Jason, but I don't think it's terribly substantial. The crux of your point here is that these are potentially powerful things because they represent a large and active user base – I don't, think, however that GMail and Farmville are social networks.

    Simply put, if your criteria for something being a social network is simply that it has a lot of actively engaged users, why not just put 'The Internet' and make it an even more enormous bar? And what about all those porn sites that allow people to make comments? They're big, right?

    I don't really think you've said much here.

  • Blueitup

    if you watch what google is doing, you'll also understand JAKROSE comment. google has implemented alot of tools that are catching on fast to its users and new users alike. with the introduction of google VOICE/WAVE/BUZZ/CALLPHONE. you can social network to all your friends, make calls, video chat, txt,share and edit documents,real time search, etc.
    plus with the google phones and iphone and andriod apps you can link it all to your mobile device.

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