Larry BraunerMy list of social and business networking sites is updated when online social networking changes occur. If I omitted sites you feel should be included, please leave a comment.

This article about top social and business networking sites is sponsored by the Small Business Network, a new social website for open business networking and lifetime business learning.

Social Networking Sites Becoming the Internet

The rapid growth of Facebook and Twitter the past several years has fueled much excitement and speculation among the public and within the business world.

Alexa ranks the world’s most popular websites. Eight social networking and business networking sites, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Orkut, hi5, Ning and Xing are ranked very highly overall among the world’s websites.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Ning networks are the most popular social networks with wide business appeal. From a business point of view, MySpace has become a niche site for the music industry.

Each social networking site is different. Choose a social network according to your individual or business networking objectives, as well as your personal style. Don’t base your choice solely upon site popularity, for each social networking site has a style and features that differentiate it from other social networking sites and contribute to its success.

Facebook

Read the Great Wall of Facebook: The Social Network’s Plan to Dominate the Internet — and Keep Google Out, and you’ll  begin to appreciate ambitious scope of Facebook’s controversial plans, plans that have already started unfolding before our eyes.

The Facebook article has several important implications:

  • If Facebook succeeds, even partially, our influence and the content we post on Facebook will affect Facebook search results. In other words, we can to some extent impact the outcome of Facebook searches.
  • Facebook will evolve to compete both with Google and with other social networking sites. Facebook will implement powerful new features that enhance our networking experience.
  • To profit from an evolving Facebook, we must master Facebook now and start building our influence on the site.

I like the realness of Facebook. Most members use their actual names, provide factual information about themselves, and share interesting pictures, videos, and other content.

I also like the ease with which I can connect with my Facebook friends with a private message or a comment on their wall.

We’ve been discussing spam a lot lately. There’s a 5,000 friend limit on Facebook, so friend slots are precious. If a “friend” spams me, I remove him or her, unless of course it’s somebody I know from outside Facebook, in which case he or she gets an earful about spamming.

Twitter

Some people believe that Twitter is merely a fad. Not I. However, I’m not as confident in the future of Twitter as I am in the future of Facebook or LinkedIn.

For now, Twitter is growing, and it’s very useful if it’s used properly. I have created more traffic using Twitter than with all my other social networking sites and social media sites combined.

The ability to connect with and reach large groups of people makes Twitter attractive from a marketing perspective. I use a simple yet powerful tool that helps me connect with people and manage my profiles and those of my clients.

If you can reach your target market on Twitter and keep their interest, you will benefit enormously.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great business social networking site that is under new management.

LinkedIn’s potential lies in it’s many diverse and successful groups and their ongoing discussions. What better way to network than to participate in the discussions of groups that attract the types of people you want to meet?

You can also build up a very large network on LinkedIn which will enable you to communicate directly with the people you want without having to get past the usual gatekeepers. Members will also be able to search for and find you.

Ning Networks

I’ve written much recently about Ning networks. Many Ning social networking sites appeal to narrow niches, but others have broader appeal. Small Business Network is a new Ning network with a wide appeal.

I appreciate most a Ning network feature that is very controversial, the ability to share content with all Ning friends on a particular Ning network. I can write a blog post and share it easily with hundreds of friends.

Popularity of Social Networking Sites Isn’t Everything

While these are the most popular social networking sites, popularity isn’t everything. Less popular sites may offer you precisely the audience or the features you want. See also my list of social networking sites article from 2008 and my recent review of an excellent business networking book, The Skinny on Networking by Jim Randel.

Please subscribe and join me on Facebook.

Most Popular Social and Business Networking Sites was most recently updated 28-Sep-2010 by Larry Brauner.

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65 Responses to “Most Popular Social Networking and Business Networking Sites”

  1. Catherine White on July 20th, 2009 12:37 am

    Great stuff here Larry, and most of which I would agree with.

    The numbers speak, as does a retention rate.

    Catherine
    @DivineMissWhite

  2. Julianne McLaughlin on July 20th, 2009 7:37 am

    Hi Larry - great info as always. I find myself falling away from Twitter. It’s very time consuming to keep up with who is following you and reverse. I’ve been getting too much spam and it’s bothersome. I’ll keep it up though….it’s great for posting blogs. Do you have any other sites for blog posts that you would recommend? Thanks!

  3. Rebecca on July 20th, 2009 9:07 am

    The conversation on social networking sites is absolutely stimulating! It is fascinating to see what other businesses are doing on Twitter and Facebook. The difficulties that some businesses find is they don’t know which tools to use and how to effectively use them! It is important to provide consistent information about your company, but you’ve got to engage people in a viral way! You’ve got to think “What can I do that will be really interesting?”

  4. Larry Brauner on July 20th, 2009 9:36 am

    Hi Julianne,

    LinkedIn groups and Ning are excellent ways to get targeted and recurring traffic respectively.

    About 35% to 40% of my traffic comes search engines. 25% comes from Entrecard.

  5. Steve on July 20th, 2009 10:16 am

    Larry, I have always enjoyed your logical and thoughtful discussions regarding online social networking. It’s great to have a more experienced guide to help me navigate through the social networking waters :)

  6. Karen McGreevey on July 20th, 2009 12:15 pm

    Once again, Larry, you do not disappoint.

    I appreciate knowing your take on the various social networking sites. Although, as you have stated, it’s really up to us which sites we frequent based on our specific needs/wants.

    The SNs definitely do take time to get up and running and to stay current with. But in the end the benefits can outweigh all that.

    And, there definitely is the possibility of being spammed at any of these sites. Or at least I have been. So you just have to learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. And design our interactions accordingly.

    Again, thanks.

  7. Sheila on July 20th, 2009 1:51 pm

    Thanks for doing the work for your readers! I read the article in Wired re the Great Wall of Facebook… and will be watching both companies to see what transpires.

  8. Larry Brauner on July 20th, 2009 1:55 pm

    Thank you Sheila… very happy we’re friends, and that the Internet is helping us stay better connected across too many miles.

  9. Debbie Morgan on July 20th, 2009 3:03 pm

    Hi Larry! Thanks for the numbers. I’m not a numbers gal but I do appreciate them and those that dig them up for me. I’m on all of the social networking sites that you mention and find Facebook, Twitter and the Ning sites to be the most productive. Great post!

  10. Hamming on July 21st, 2009 1:53 am

    Who said Twitter is a fad? I don’t believe them.

  11. Larry Brauner on July 21st, 2009 9:42 am

    Many pundits are saying that Twitter is a fad, but as I said, I don’t agree.

  12. Market Segmentation on July 21st, 2009 10:13 am

    Hi Larry,

    I’ll note your prediction about facebook. They say it’s the people who get in on a new marketing trend early that benefit the most from it.

    Thanks for the heads up.

    Warmly,

    Linda P. Morton

  13. Linky on July 21st, 2009 4:38 pm

    Hi Larry

    Thanks for the interesting facts and the way you give guidance to business owners on how to use Social Networking effectively.

    It is much appreciated.

    Regards,
    Linky

  14. Sheri Jones on July 22nd, 2009 10:04 pm

    Good information. The problem I’m having with Ning is there are a billion choices and it’s hard to pick just one or two to join. Is there an app to combine postings in one place (similiar to the Facebook/Twitter connections)?

  15. Larry Brauner on July 22nd, 2009 11:08 pm

    Sheri,

    Ning hasn’t fully adopted the update stream concept. Furthermore, each site is customized by the site’s creator. Currently, the best you can do is manage your Ning friends and site participation from a central location, Ning.com.

    I do have a standard bio, complete with HTML tags, that I use on every site I join with minimal alteration.

    One point I’ve made in the past that is worth repeating, is that you should join as many Ning sites as your heart desires, but try not to be very active on more than a few. Otherwise you run the risk spreading yourself too thin.

  16. Sheri Jones on July 22nd, 2009 11:34 pm

    Thanks Larry!

    I’ve found myself spread too thin….glad it’s not just me!!! I’m only on 9 Ning sites and still find that overwhelming with my other marketing attempts. I try to make one Ning site per day a priority….sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.

  17. Marc Chamot on July 25th, 2009 11:53 am

    Hi Larry, Since I joined EC over a year and a few months ago, you’ve been a very, very loyal card dropper. I appreciate it so much.

    My question to you Larry, is folks like me and another good blogger friend on EC, Politicus, we’ve given up on Twitter. In my case, I am almost 50 years old, I tried them all, they don’t seem to work for my blog, why?

    What are we doing wrong? Is the real secret for successful networking is it to keep on finding friends and so forth?

    I had posted 140 words of my blog postings on Twitter, only got a few if any results.

    Do you have any suggestions or ideas in how we can work it better? And I’ll read it when you have the time to post it.

    Thank you Larry, keep up the tremendous work you’re doing there…

    Best wishes,

    Marc Chamot

  18. Brenda Bunney on July 25th, 2009 1:56 pm

    I have been trying to decide which social sites and how many to become involved with.

    Like Sheri, I feel I get spread too thin at times and just don’t have the time for everything.

    Thanks again!

  19. Larry Brauner on July 25th, 2009 10:42 pm

    Marc,

    I am 57. Don’t let your age be a limiting factor.

    The problem is that there’s more to Twitter than getting some followers and sharing links to your articles.

    You need followers within your target audience who will find your articles interesting. Some of them will subscribe to your blog and some will re-tweet your Twitter updates.

    You need to share more with them than links to your blog. Sharing personal information and links to other people’s relevant content can help to build your relationship with them.

    These are two basic social marketing concepts that apply to all social networking sites.

  20. Mitch on July 29th, 2009 4:06 pm

    This may sound goofy, but I find Ning somewhat lackluster. I belong to 7 groups, and none of them seem to have anyone who knows how to carry on a conversation. Some people will start a topic, you respond, and they never get back to you; what’s that about? And these are all supposed to be business related groups. There’s just no flow; I’m greatly disappointed in what I’ve seen thus far.

  21. Larry Brauner on July 29th, 2009 5:25 pm

    Mitch,

    Each site has strong points and weak ones, and the key is to capitalize on the strong points.

  22. Will McCulloch on August 2nd, 2009 3:06 pm

    Hi Larry,

    What a good round-up of social networks - it sometimes hard to know which ones to prioritize to create an optimal strategy - and there’s always new ones popping up.

    Outside of your listed sites, I’m quite keen on XING (just sent you a contact request there!), Ecademy — and more recently have just joined Fast Pitch which looks good to me.

    Best wishes,

    Will

  23. social media websites on August 18th, 2009 10:56 am

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  24. GreenLasagna on August 18th, 2009 2:44 pm

    I just started a Ning group, and am very pleased with its progress so far. I can see it growing over the years. I found most of my members through Twitter. I quit Facebook, as it was too distracting with games, groups, etc. I was becoming addicted to playing instead of working online.

    Unlike you, I see Twitter as something that will change the face of social networking. I see more and more Twitter-like sites springing up in time, with longer messages, but the same basic format. The biggest complaint about Twitter is message length, and if someone could fix that, and get the right traction, they could overcome Twitter.

    I would love to see Google topple. It’s getting too big, and too powerful, snatching up everything in sight. Reminiscent of AT&T?

  25. Larry Brauner on August 18th, 2009 4:29 pm

    I’ve turned off notification for and ignore juvenile Facebook application requests on Facebook — the Facebook equivalent of spam.

    I believe that Twitter has already changed the face of social networking sites, and I too “see more and more Twitter-like sites springing up in time, with longer messages.”

    The format is different, but Facebook is such a social networking site, and now that they’ve acquired FriendFeed, they’ll soon have much of Twitter’s functionality — but with text or multimedia status updates.

    I could complain about Facebook’s shortcomings and Google’s — and every other site’s as well. However, it looks like Facebook and Google are the future of social media for business.

  26. Jacobus Nel on August 19th, 2009 12:06 pm

    Hi Larry

    I need to prepare an exam presentation with slide shows, etc. My topic is about the advantages/disadvantages of using social networking to generate funds for your school. Can you help me with this please.

    Thanx

  27. Larry Brauner on August 19th, 2009 12:36 pm

    Jacobus,

    Offhand I’d say that these are the main advantages:

    • low out-of-pocket expenses (if students or other volunteers can help)
    • ease of reaching audiences that might be harder to reach with other media

    The main disadvantages:

    • volunteers might be hard to recruit
    • very steep social media learning curve
    • difficulty reaching audiences that might be easier to reach with other media

    Hope this helps. See also Top 10 Reasons for Social Marketing and Top 10 Social Marketing Challenges.

    I’ll send you my bill. :-P

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  29. Michelle on September 24th, 2009 12:52 am

    I’m truly happy I found your website and will be visiting quite often to soak up the wealth of your content.

    Thanks!

  30. Jeffrey Martin on October 2nd, 2009 1:56 am

    Hi Larry,

    What a great article. You have some great insight on these social networking sites. I really enjoyed looking over your other previous articles.

    I will be a regular visitor! You have great content!

    Thank you,
    Jeffrey Martin

  31. SportCruiser Pros on October 21st, 2009 11:05 am

    Hi Larry, thanks for this information; we are working on creating social network profiles for our company and found this page while searching on google for a list of the best ones to use for business. Thanks again, very informative post!

  32. elaraji on October 26th, 2009 12:53 pm

    Hi Mr. Larry!

    I really enjoyed reading this article!

    Lot of useful information that I’ve never heard about…

    Thank you so much!

  33. Rudy on November 3rd, 2009 12:43 am

    Hi Larry,

    With this post, I can see the difference of the social networking sites and begin to understand how they work.

    Very useful read. Thank you.

  34. Ramit on December 25th, 2009 9:41 pm

    Larry,

    Glad you followed me on twitter and its from there that i found your blog. You’ve done a great job with this blog and love the articles.

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  37. Austin on February 7th, 2010 11:57 pm

    Very good stuff. You’re a life saver for a new blogger.

  38. Dawn Lawson on March 11th, 2010 9:54 am

    Larry,

    You are an excellent writer! Great article!

    Question for you though, which Ning application allows you to post blog posts across all of your networks? I don’t use the blog feature on Ning as I maintain my blog via Wordpress. Do you write original content for Ning or share from your blog?

    Thanks for sharing! Take Care my friend.

    Dawn

  39. Larry Brauner on March 11th, 2010 6:42 pm

    Dawn,

    One method, I write a short blog post on a relevant Ning site that links to my main blog article, and I share that short blog post with my friends on that Ning site.

    Another, I directly mail an announcement to members of groups I moderate and/or sites I created.

    Using ping.fm, it’s possible to post status updates on multiple Ning sites, but I believe that few people read them.

    I also add blog’s feed anywhere on Ning that I can.

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  44. Wendy on July 30th, 2010 12:52 pm

    Hi Larry,

    I haven’t done much on Ning, as I thought they were shutting down all free sites. I do know there are some very large Ning sites that would stay even if they paid.

    Facebook is OK, but it is very hard to search for info, and very limited.

    MySpace…It hurts my eyes. So many blinking, buzzing, scrolling…banners and buttons. Maybe I am just getting old? LOL!

    I have been using Google Buzz. I do not have a large following on the Buzz account linked above but, I know several people that have HUGE followings and get a whole bunch of interaction.

    The size of the social site does not always mean it is better. Sometimes the more “popular” a site is the less actual communication there is.

    I think a person will do best on a social site that fits their personality.

  45. Shari Weiss on July 31st, 2010 12:05 am

    Hi Larry . . . and community,

    I love your take on Facebook. With 500+ million users and facts like “34% of women age 18-34 start off their day checking Facebook,” this platform is bound to grow in the role it will play in all our lives.

    That being said, my favorite social networking site is LinkedIn, which is interesting and useful in so many ways that most LI users have only touched the surface.

    There are so many business-types who KNOW they need to be on LinkedIn, but they haven’t even tried to perfect their profiles. That “tiny step” will earn awesome rewards.

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  47. Gadong Quirino on August 16th, 2010 12:29 am

    There are so many social networking sites that can be used not only for business but with for other interests. Social networking is really useful to broadcast important details in an easy way.

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  49. Manu on September 8th, 2010 2:02 am

    To add, I recently came across a long list of social networking sites.

  50. Kyle Deming on September 11th, 2010 5:17 pm

    I recently came across the “Questions” feature in LinkedIn and it seems like an awesome social networking opportunity.

  51. Larry Brauner on September 11th, 2010 9:55 pm

    Questions on LinkedIn is a great feature. Unfortunately, it can be abused.

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  53. Charlotte Howard on September 20th, 2010 8:17 am

    Hello Larry,

    I love the information you have provided here on social networks. I love the fact that you can connect with like minded people here and share valuable information like you have provided here. I am looking forward to more, have a wonderful day.

  54. Amy on September 28th, 2010 8:09 pm

    Well, I’ve been using the Facebook and Twitter for quite sometime and I can see that they are really a great help. Aside from free advertisement to promote my business, I can also use it as a point of contact just in case someone who want to send me a message.

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  56. Michelle on November 12th, 2010 12:44 pm

    Hey, Larry. Do you consider a relationship site as a social networking site?

  57. Larry Brauner on November 12th, 2010 2:28 pm

    Michelle, why not? I consider a relationship site a social networking site but not a business networking site.

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  61. Joseph on August 4th, 2011 11:06 am

    Dear Larry,

    This was a very informative and useful commentary on social networking. Knowing the impact of various social networking in future business what do you think Goole+ will achieve ?

    Will Google+ take over as the biggest social networking site?

  62. Larry Brauner on August 4th, 2011 12:12 pm

    Hi Joseph,

    I think Google+ will be very important and will bridge the functionality of Facebook and Twitter. As soon as Google + is out of beta testing, I plan to add it to this article.

    I invite you and all others to follow me on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

    Larry

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  64. william sawyers on April 11th, 2012 8:03 pm

    I loved this information, from a children author in Concord, Ca.

  65. Dallas on July 6th, 2012 1:44 pm

    Pretty nice list you have here! It never hurts to be apart of as many online communities as you can to see what’s out there.

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