Data Junkie has posted a world map of social networks, showing the dominant social networks by country, according to Alexa.

I found it interesting that while US based bloggers and commentators, mostly seem to feel that facebook and myspace have the market all sewn up, other networks appear to be flourishing in areas where english may not be a first language – Orkut for example, has the Indian subcontinent enthralled. It is a pity there are no stats for China with its several million internet users, and the colors distinguishing between networks could use a wider pallet. Otherwise the map is a very interesting depiction of the fact that there are niches all over the world, and not all of it speaks english.

All of this left me wondering why I socialize on Virb? The answer isn’t as simple as I like the color scheme but I suspect it is because its still small, it looks really good and it caters to the type of people that I like to read about. In other words its a niche network.

UPDATE: Not really an update but Chip Griffin of Pardon the Interruption has written a free eBook entitled The New Media Cocktail which discusses the power of niches.

As someone noted, I also have a
LinkedIn account. It still counts as a niche network even though its fairly massive.

View Dror Eyal's profile on LinkedIn

Those of you that have been following this blog, and its predecessor ikissnoise for a while, will know that I have been a big fan of LinkedIn as a social network for business people. They do seem to be lagging behind the rest of the social networking crowd in terms of features. A recent announcement that they will be releasing an API within the next 9 months has been met with some criticism that it is too little too late.

So what other strategies are open to someone who has seemingly missed the API bus? Jeremiah Owyang recently posted some interesting thoughts on his blog.

One key feature I see that LinkedIn from benefiting is to become the online source of the resume, not just the networks that are connected to the jobs. Help users to answer; “what skills have I learned, who else has them, where can I find others with these skills”. There’s an opportunity to expand the tool as the online resume.

If LinkedIn is to become the premiere social networking tool for businesses (as stated in this article) then they need to consider joining all the communities that existing in the context of business. If I were working at LinkedIn, I would be pushing an API to Facebook quickly and also universal login that web managers could integrate into their site. This identity systems could feed into recruiting systems, monster.com and even the ‘career’ pages on corporate websites –let me fill out my core information (or different versions of it) once and submit to many. It’s an API really, and would actually be a competitor to some identity management systems, almost like OpenID.

I believe that if LinkedIn doesn’t open an API sooner than 9 months, they may be falling back further than they think. Although the hResume move was interesting strategically as hResume has not been widely adopted yet.