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Social network popularity around the world

With the help of Google data, we have looked at 12 of the top social networks to answer a simple, but highly interesting question:

Where are they the most popular?

The social networks we included in this survey were MySpace, Facebook, Hi5, Friendster, LinkedIn, Orkut, Last.fm, LiveJournal, Xanga, Bebo, Imeem and Twitter.

Popularity by country (how we got the data)

Google Insights for Search makes this quite easy for you. For a search term (for example “MySpace”), it will highlight the regions where that search term is the most popular. Google calls this “regional interest”.

This “regional interest” should give a good indication of which regions (in this case countries) a social network is most popular in.

Google also provides a nice heat map of the results. We have included the heapmaps for all the social networks below.

Some interesting observations before we get started

While we were collecting the data we noted several interesting, and often surprising, pieces of information. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits:

  • Facebook is most popular in Turkey and Canada.
  • Friendster and Imeem are most popular in the Philippines.
  • LinkedIn is most popular in India.
  • Twitter is most popular in Japan.
  • LiveJournal is more popular in Russia than it is in the United States.
  • Orkut is more popular in Iran (10th country popularity-wise) than it is in the United States.
  • MySpace is the only social network which is most popular in the United States.
  • MySpace, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, Xanga, and Twitter are the only social networks in this survey which have the United States in their top five countries, popularity-wise. That is just five out of twelve.

If you needed confirmation that social networks are global affairs, that should do it.

There has been quite a Facebook craze here in Sweden (where Pingdom is based) the last year or so, but Sweden didn’t even break the top 10 when it comes to “regional interest” for Facebook, as Google puts it.

This would indicate that the popularity of Facebook is quite “wide”, geographically speaking, which is something that you can tell when analyzing the data closer. To allow you to easily do this analysis for each social network, we have included a link to Google’s search statistics for each of the social networks.

But now have a look for yourself. There are plenty of interesting things to discover.

MySpace

Myspace popularity

Countries with highest interest in MySpace:

  1. United States
  2. Puerto Rico
  3. Australia
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Malaysia

Dig deeper into Google’s search statistics for MySpace here.

Facebook

Facebook popularity

Countries with highest interest in Facebook:

  1. Turkey
  2. Canada
  3. United Kingdom
  4. South Africa
  5. Colombia

Dig deeper into Google’s search statistics for Facebook here.

Hi5

Hi5 popularity

Countries with highest interest in hi5:

  1. Peru
  2. Portugal
  3. El Salvador
  4. Dominican Republic
  5. Costa Rica

Dig deeper into Google’s search statistics for Hi5 here.

Friendster

Friendster popularity

Countries with highest interest in Friendster:

  1. Philippines
  2. Malaysia
  3. Indonesia
  4. Singapore
  5. Myanmar

Dig deeper into Google’s search statistics for Friendster here.

LinkedIn

LinedIn popularity

Countries with highest interest in LinkedIn:

  1. India
  2. Netherlands
  3. Denmark
  4. Belgium
  5. United States

Dig deeper into Google’s search statistics for LinkedIn here.

Orkut

Orkut popularity

Countries with highest interest in Orkut:

  1. Brazil
  2. Paraguay
  3. India
  4. Pakistan
  5. Portugal

Dig deeper into Google’s search statistics for Orkut here.

Last.fm

Last.fm popularity

Countries with highest interest in Last.fm:

  1. Finland
  2. Croatia
  3. Estonia
  4. Czech Republic
  5. Norway

Dig deeper into Google’s search statistics for Last.fm here.

LiveJournal

LiveJournal popularity

Countries with highest interest in LiveJournal:

  1. Singapore
  2. Russia
  3. Belarus
  4. United States
  5. Philippines

Dig deeper into Google’s search statistics for LiveJournal here.

Xanga

Xanga popularity

Countries with highest interest in Xanga:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. United States
  3. Singapore
  4. Malaysia
  5. Philippines

Dig deeper into Google’s search statistics for Xanga here.

Bebo

Bebo popularity

Countries with highest interest in Bebo:

  1. Ireland
  2. New Zealand
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Fiji
  5. Australia

Dig deeper into Google’s search statistics for Bebo here.

Imeem

Imeem popularity

Countries with highest interest in Imeem:

  1. Philippines
  2. Thailand
  3. Malaysia
  4. Singapore
  5. Jamaica

Dig deeper into Google’s search statistics for Imeem here.

Twitter

Twitter popularity

Countries with highest interest in Twitter:

  1. Japan
  2. Taiwan
  3. United States
  4. Singapore
  5. Hong Kong

Dig deeper into Google’s search statistics for Twitter here.

Conclusion

As we already mentioned, this survey clearly shows that social networks are truly global affairs. It also shows that the geographic focus varies greatly between different social networks.

How have these differences come around? It would be interesting to see a thorough analysis of why certain social networks have reached popularity in certain countries and not in others. To some extent it could be a question of marketing initiatives, but the demographics of the different regions are bound to have an even stronger influence (in combination with the characteristics and focus of the various social networks, of course).

For example, the Japanese are very used to having their cell phones being an integral part of their lives (to an even higher extent than most Westerners), which may be why they like Twitter. Most likely there are similar factors that can explain the “geographic popularity” for all the different social networks, but perhaps they are not quite as easy to discern.

As always, we would love to hear what you think.

Tip: When using Google Insights for Search you will get more data if you are logged in to your Google account.

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