Social Commerce: It's Not Just About Twitter and Facebook

Written by Tom FronczakApril 7, 2011

Do you eat, breathe, and sleep SocialTechnologyReview? Have you learned everything there is to know about Facebook and Twitter? Are you satisfied you’ve done everything you can possibly do to better your business on those huge social networking sites? If you’re wondering which networks to target next, then this is the article you need to read before moving forward in a new direction with your online social commerce strategy.

It’s no secret that Facebook and Twitter are massive, but there are still billions of people using the Internet who choose to use similar sites instead of the most widespread destinations online. Some are simple Facebook clones, some specialize in certain target audiences, and some are extremely popular outside of the United States, but with each having millions of users they demand your consideration. Here’s a quick rundown to open your eyes to some of the top overlooked networks online.

In this article I’ll be including Alexa traffic rankings for each site. I usually prefer Quantcast or other measurement sites for U.S. data, but Alexa’s pros and cons are more consistent across the entire global perspective, so it’s more balanced overall. To compare the underdogs to the favorites, we’ll first begin with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for an initial point of reference.

Facebook - Alexa Traffic Rank: 2, in the top 3 for nearly 100 different countries’ rankings. It has over 500 million total users, with more than half being active every day.

Twitter - Alexa Traffic Rank: 9, in the top 7 to top 17 range for well over a dozen countries. Despite being only seven spots behind its top competitor, that equates to roughly 25-30% of Facebook’s total online reach.

LinkedIn - Alexa Traffic Rank: 17, top 30 for dozens of large countries, and ranked 12th in America. The evolution of online social networks has been filled with bumpy roads, but LinkedIn’s momentum hasn’t slowed at all in the past years despite never getting the amount of attention Facebook and others get by comparison. Its business networking prowess speaks for itself.

Myspace - Alexa Traffic Rank: 70. My, how times have changed. While no one argues that Myspace completely fell from grace, it still exists and is very active to this day. Even though it fell so far, from a different perspective, there are millions of sites with exorbitant budgets fighting to be ranked as high as it is, but failing to do so. Myspace is still relevant.

Orkut - Alexa Traffic Rank: 106, 11th in Brazil, and 16th in India. The fact that many people still haven’t even heard of Orkut proves how close-minded the American business playing field can often be. It may not be as robust and as refined as Facebook, but only 2% of this social network’s users are from the United States, with 48% from Brazil and 40% from India. Why fight tooth and nail in an overcrowded sea when you can easily compete in a calm pond that still boasts plenty of fish?

Ning - Alexa Traffic Rank: 250, 25th in Kenya, 114th in America. Ning was a very popular community site that was both app friendly and privacy friendly. It even got a lot of support from prolific YouTube channels. The problem? It stopped being free a year ago, so traffic has been slowly declining, but surprisingly not completely plummeting. The up side here is that the users obviously have money to spend, so they may be more likely to be potential eCommerce customers.

Hi5 - Alexa Traffic Rank: 253, top 15 for Romania, Mongolia, Peru, and Angolia. While it used to focus on letting friends of friends connect with one another through layered contacts, it has shifted towards social entertainment and gaming in recent years. This shift either caused a huge decline in this once massive network, or was a failed attempt to limit its falling – yet still powerful – traffic rank.

Tagged - Alexa Traffic Rank: 257, top 100 for several countries. Tagged had some widespread user complaints in the past addressing its email standards and child safety laws, yet it’s achieved over 100 million accounts and continues to be relevant on several continents instead of only a single area.

Netlog - Alexa Traffic Rank: 352, top 50 for dozens of countries in Africa, Middle East, and South America. I’ll admit It’s mostly unknown in America, but any social portal that boasts top 20 rankings for a country has an opportunity for market domination.

Quora - Alexa Traffic Rank: 910, top 500 for many large countries including America. In recent years the notion that maybe relying on only a Google or Yahoo search algorithm isn’t the best idea. WolframAlpha (Alexa Rank: 3,197) tackled this issue head on, but sites like Quora, Yahoo Answers, and Answers (Alexa Rank: 127) instead prefer a more social approach to finding answers for users’ questions. At barely over a year old, Quora is already massively popular and is definitely a site to take a look at before it becomes even more widespread.

Friendster - Alexa Traffic Rank: 970, 16th in Philippines, but only ranking at 2,133 in America. While Friendster has plummeted in American popularity in recent years, it still remains vastly active in Southeast Asia with several countries still fueling it to a top 100 local ranking status.

MyLife - Alexa Traffic Rank: 1,226, top 300 in the United States. Formerly Reunion.com, this social network excels at tracking down old acquaintances online.

Plurk - Alexa Traffic Rank: 1,299, 98th in Philippines, 28th in Taiwan, but only 3,683rd in America. Plurk’s traffic has barely increased or decreased in over a year, which is good in that it’s consistent, but bad in that it has limited potential. It’s always functioned much like Twitter but with more importance placed on action based Plurks (Tweets) and letting users vote on posts to give a Karma ranking to each user.

Bebo - Alexa Traffic Rank: 2,120, top 300 in Ireland, Pakistan, and New Zealand. Top 50 in Botswana. In its infancy it claimed to be the next big competitor to Facebook and Myspace, and was even bought by AOL in 2008, though it later sold the site in 2010. While it may be on its last leg, it’s likely that it has very limited competition in its niche markets at this point.

KickStarter - I love KickStarter! Instead of sitting around talking to friends all day online, it allows passionate projects to find funders to green light their creative goals. The best part is that it’s not only used for large budget initiatives, and instead thrives on simple projects with small budget needs. Another thing that’s great is that it’s not just technology oriented and spans many varying artistic categories. As for traffic, it’s only ranked at 3,486 (984th in America) on Alexa so far, but it’s done nothing but soar over the past year and a half since its birth. By its very nature it’s not designed to ever be a top 10 site, but my gut tells me its long-term value will make it the next big online community that’s one day a household name around the dinner table.

Jaiku - Alexa Traffic Rank: 11,628, top 2,000 in Philippines and India. This Twitter clone was purchased by Google in 2007 but was later abandoned to the community’s open source groups. Nothing much ever came from it, so unless you’re targeting overseas markets it doesn’t have as much to offer as others on this list.

Diaspora - Alexa Traffic Rank: 23,002, top 5,000 for Greece and Argentina. Why even include this on the list? Two reasons. First, its name implies migration because it’s boldly encouraging the world to leave Facebook and instead use their open source alternative where privacy issues aren’t a concern. Depending on your business, the open source aspect alone can be very appealing, but what’s more important is getting in on an exploding market before the fuse runs out. Despite a few gigantic surges in traffic thanks to being spotlighted in the New York Times and other huge news outlets, so far it’s mostly been a disappointing dud, but only time will tell.

Tumblr - Alexa Traffic Rank: 57, top 50 for various large countries, such as USA, UK, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, and Australia. It’s even more popular in the Philippines and Singapore.  Tumblr blurs the definition lines for “social networking site” and “blog platform” in a way that has Geocities rolling over in its grave. Its traffic and reach combined with the popular “like” and reblog site mechanics makes it a force to be reckoned with.

Google Profiles - Google, I love you, but you’ve really stumbled in the social networking market. Google Buzz has barely threatened Twitter, and Google Wave’s vague marketing campaign caused the plug to be pulled before it even launched. As for Google’s unambitious social networking project, profiles.google.com, it makes up only a total of .10% of their entire traffic. Granted one tenth of one percent of the largest site on the Internet still equates to a lot of users, but when it’s a service that’s tied into their massively popular Gmail service, yet is entirely ignored by most users, it doesn’t bode well for the future.

Yelp - Alexa Traffic Rank: 204, 42nd in the United States. This social network has taken Criagslist’s localized design mentality and managed to make a massive peer based review system for local businesses. Every store that has an offline location in America should be using Yelp. It’s also gaining momentum in Canada, India, UK, and even China, suggesting that it might not even be close to peaking yet.

Yellow Pages - Alexa Traffic Rank: 845, 198th in the United States. Very similar to Yelp both in function and in growing popularity in the large countries oversea, but despite a new YP advertising campaign, Yelp continues to get the best of it due to a focus on reviews instead of just location information.

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