Measuring social networks' popularity by region

Using Google Insights for Search, performance-monitoring firm Pingdom tracks which countries are talking about which social networks the most.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy

Performance-monitoring firm Pingdom thinks we should look at social networks differently.

The popularity of a social site such as MySpace or Twitter is frequently measured in unique users, page views, or user registrations. But a recent ministudy by Pingdom chose instead to look at how much of a proportional lock a given social network has on the countries' Web users. The tool of choice was Google Insights for Search, which was formally launched earlier this week.

Facebook, for example, started in the United States and still has more members there than in any other country. But there's more proportional "interest" in Facebook in Turkey, based on Google searches for the term. In second place is Canada, followed by the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Colombia.

For MySpace, the U.S. ranks at the top of the list when it comes to regional interest, followed by Puerto Rico, Australia, the U.K., and Malaysia. Beyond that, many American-founded social networks are much more popular overseas than at home: Friendster, which recently affirmed its focus on Asian countries, gathers the most "interest" in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Myanmar, respectively. The top five Google Insights locations for Hi5, founded in San Francisco, are Peru, Portugal, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica.

The rest of Pingdom's results can be found on the company's blog.