Believe it or not, millions of people in other countries besides the United States around the world are using social media. Although social media got its start in America with sites like MySpace and Facebook, these sites and their competitors have gained online popularity throughout the world. Some of the most popular international social networking sites are unheard of in America, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t millions of users.
Ironically, sites that appear weak when compared to Facebook, are actually strong contenders overseas, like Friendster and Hi5. These sites have basically faded into oblivion in the United States, but they continue to have steady usage in Asia and Europe. While the URL of the site may vary, American and other international citizens use social networking and bookmarking sites in the same ways.
Because there are actually millions of users worldwide that use social networking sites to share content and stay connected with friends, companies can gain a worldwide audience their advertising and social promotions. Learning the history behind social networking and bookmarking sites, in addition to where they are today, can help Internet marketers and business owners alike learn the importance of not overlooking international sites just because they aren’t American-based Facebook, Digg, or MySpace.
Facebook And MySpace Got The Party Started
While it’s a widely known fact among Internet historians, others may be surprised to know that Facebook and MySpace were not the first social networking sites online. Some argue that early message boards for the first social networks, while the first user site dedicated towards a profile-oriented experience was SixDegrees.com, a site they got its name by the theory that everyone knows each other through less than six people.
The next social networking site that really helped develop the idea behind Facebook and MySpace was Friendster. As mentioned previously, Friendster is still a popular site in other countries and still has a strong membership base here in the United States. Friendster launched in 2002 and currently supports several languages, including English, Tagalong, and Chinese.
However, Facebook and MySpace are known as the pioneers of social networking because they were (and still are) commanding large user rates.
Then Came Social Bookmarking
Besides social networking sites, social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit began to grow in the early 2000s. Social bookmarking websites are one of the most popular forms of user-generated content online internationally. Social bookmarking allows users to share content that may otherwise not have a large audience. Some popular international vote-based sharing sites include OkNO in Italy and Wykop.pl in Poland.
Censorship Alongside A Global Boom
Many news outlets have reported the dispute between China’s government and Google, mainly due to Google’s lack of complying with China’s strict censorship standards. As a result of China’s insistence that Google comply with their requests, Google has instead decided to pull out of China. Many Chinese bloggers have blamed Google for the dispute. In a UK Guardian article, it states “Blogger Xiang Ligang called Google’s decision “psychological warfare”and said that like other American companies, Google had failed to adapt to the Chinese market, failing to respect copyright and allowing people to search for pornography.” However, from Google’s point of view, they are standing up for the freedom of speech.
Regardless of the debate between Google and China, social networking sites have continued to grow around the world. Middle Eastern website Yonja.com has over 6.2 million users and NetLog.com is the most popular social site in Europe, with over 71 million users. Although Facebook reached over 500 million users worldwide in July 2010, NetLog.com still has a commanding presence overseas.
Marketing On International Social Networking Sites
Many of the popular social networking and bookmarking sites have Google ads in their native language and also support other types of ads. The international market may be to your advantage, as many United States-based companies solely do their advertising on primarily English sites.
Depending on your target demographic, you may want to also put some of your marketing and advertising efforts on international sites, especially sites that are exclusive it mainly used in one country, like SkyRock.com in France. It is the world’s sixth-largest social networking site. Be sure to be respectful of website privacy policies, country social norms, and the appearance of regular advertising on this site. Make sure you and your company are conscious of other international social networking and bookmarking websites besides Twitter, Digg, Facebook, and MySpace. International social sites have a lot of potential and shouldn’t be discounted just because they don’t have a large following in the United States. Don’t let that deter you from your marketing campaigns.
Popular Social Networking, Social News & Bookmarking Sites Around The World
South American/Spanish Speaking
http://www.enchilame.com/ (like reddit)
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