Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Survey Social Networks Worldwide: the Results

First and foremost: many thanks to all of you who have taken the trouble to fill out the survey on Social Networks Worldwide. You will be seeing the results in the press in the coming weeks (short version), but as promised here you will find more details and background information. I will include part of the survey together with fresh insights in my book "Social Networks Around The World: How is Web 2.0 changing your daily life?", available on Amazon in Q4.

Over 850 people from 54 countries took part in the online survey which was held from January 07 till July 07 on While the survey has no pretense of being scientific, I believe it offers some insights in who, why and where people are using social networks today.

  • Who was Joe Average who filled out this survey?
Answer: Male, between 30 and 40 years old, in a relationship, with children, from Belgium, the USA or the UK. Surprisingly enough only 27% of women participated, while they are generally regarded as being the larger group of users of social networks.

  • Which social networks are most popular?

Answer: The top 10 is equally shared by professional as well as social (friendship) networks. However Linkedin clearly takes the lead when it comes to business networking, or networking as such, in the demographic group we have queried.

  • Why do users join a social network? What is their number 1 reason?

Answer: Here I admit I was surprised: a whopping 89% put "professional use" as their number one reason to join an online community! 53% uses it to socialize and to stay connected with friends and a meager 16% is interested in joining a social network if it caters to his/her hobby. Keeping in mind the old predjudice (from people who are not using social networks obviously) that online communities are predominantly used by teenagers who like to chat (socialize), our survey states the opposite. Also, it makes you wonder about the surge of specialized networks (niche networks) and their chances of survival if they offer no business advantage.

  • Is it important that you can use your own language?

Answer: Even with globalization and the increasing use of English, the majority seems to think it is important to be able to use one's mother tongue when interacting online (40%). 31% feels it is convenient but not necessary; 28% doesn't feel it is important. If you're launching a network today, wouldn't you want to score points with your potential users by offering them the possibility to use their mother tongue?

  • Would you rather pay a membership fee to have an ad-free network or do you prefer a free account with advertising?

Answer: 20% of the users is willing to pay for the privilege to have an ad-free community, while 80% is not. I guess it would be interesting to calculate how much money you could earn with - say- Google Adwords (the preferred partner for most small networks) and by attracting 20% of your estimated public and charging them a membership fee...

  • Would you join a network because someone famous is a member?

Answer: 20% of you would! When A Small World (a so-called "gated community" which is invite-only) reportedly counted Paris Hilton and Tom Cruise amongst its members, everyone and his poodle wanted to join. One Korean network has used this trick successfully by openly anouncing which celebrities were members, but strangely enough I haven't seen this marketing trick anywhere else.

  • How much time do you spend on your social network(s)?

Answer: The majority visits his/her site(s) several times a day (37%) or once a day (18%). 22% visits several times a week. That adds up to 77% of all respondants who are intense networkers -much more than what most surveys seem to suggest. The fact that many people were introduced to this survey through one network or another obviously embellishes the results but even so, I'm wondering whether social networking is establishing itself as an accepted business practice (similar to prospecting) which people can do during business hours instead of a tool to find a new date?

  • Would you consider joining a network outside your own country?

Answer: Three quarters of all participants consider themselves true cosmopolitans, while 13% is only interested in local communities and 13% would go as far as neighbouring countries.

  • What are the top 3 things you do when turning on your PC?

Answer: While email and surfing the Internet occupy the first two places, checking your social network profile comes in third with 44%! It has become considerably more important than Internet banking, online shopping or gaming, adding to the notion that for a growing group of Internet users, social networking has become an integral part of their online identity and habits.

  • Do you participate in offline (face to face) meetings?
Answer: While a majority doesn't participate in offline meetings (54%), the difference with those who do is quite slim, suggesting that social networks can establish further contact with and between members if they choose to do so. This being said, a vast majority of online communities do not organize face to face meetings, probably because this demands an organisation (logistics, time, money, volunteers) which not all networks have access to.

  • Do you use video networks?

Answer: 81% off all participants do not use video networks. Is video networking a hype or has the business world yet to discover/appreciate the power of video? I am sure it is the latter.

These results and more will be used in "Social Networks Around The World: How is Web 2.0 changing your daily life?" which will be out on Amazon later this year. A Spanish translation is in the make as well. Meanwhile you can visit or join the Social Networks Around The World (SNATW) community if you've become interested in the networking phenomenon.

If you have questions or remarks, you can leave a blogpost or, alternatively, contact me directly at:

An De Jonghe
adj AT


Axee said...


A very timely effort.
A good beginning too.
Gives us an insight on whats on peoples' minds.

Thank you.


Octavio Pitaluga Neto said...

Hi An,

Thanks for posting it on

I have added your content into my personal blog as well

Best regards,

Octavio Pitaluga Neto
TEN - Top Executives Net
CNO - Chief Networking Officer

Al Gates said...

Interesting results. I found the top three in the categories surveyed a wee bit revealing.
A good start.


Al Gates

Unknown said...

Interesting results. I'm particularly intrigued by the finding that 54 percent of people would attend events - something that reinforces our own approach to social networking tied strongly to face-to-face events hosted by members. I love it when numbers confirm something you already believe!

Dan McComb, co-founder, Biznik business networking

Noel Bellen said...

Very interesting study and I believe at the right time. Social Networking is gaining popularity very quickly. I think it would make sense to repeat the exercise on a yearly basis, nothing changes as quickly as a trend on the internet ...


Noël Bellen

Andy Lopata said...

Hi An

This is a very interesting survey, with some surprising results that begs a number of questions. How much did the marketing of the survey and demographic of the respondents affect the results, with three business networks coming out ahead of Facebook?

Either way, it is good to see demand for social business networks growing. There does seem to be a blurring on some sites between the social side of online networking and using these communities as a business tool. If people are going to use them as a business tool, I would suggest that more and more need to get away from their computers to meet the people they connect with online.

The response to the paid subscription model was very interesting as well. We are about to launch a new social business networking in the UK, Word of Mouse, at, and we have a higher subcription model than most. The key for us though, is we need to encourage active participation as we are building an online network replicating the BNI/BRE model of weekly breakfast meetings, for those people who won't get up in the morning or who can't commit weekly.

As social business networks grow in popularity, do you think people will be more willing to invest in them? Or are we moving towards an e-society where everyone expects such functionality for free?

Bruno Peeters said...

A survey in the social networks domain is very interesting. The lists of social networks is impressive.

Looking at the results of this survey, I think they are of little value. The results are very biased by the high degree of participation of Ecademy members.

Furthermore if 27% of the answers are from one relatively small country (Belgium with 10 million inhabitants), the results are again biased.

Blonde 2.0 said...

Hi An:

Very interesting information.
I posted about your findings on my blog and also added my own thoughts:

Unknown said...

I have been researching social networks too.
Check out the Stanford University stats of why people use the net at Some of your numbers are way off the mark. Sanford stats are similar to other University surveys. You can also check out the UCLA survey. There are other surveys performed at Universities that I feel are more accurate. How did you perform your survey? What I find humorous is that some people as Octavio Pitaluga is using your survey for his business blog thinking that the survey is accurate.

Unknown said...

A bit hard to believe this is representative for the international community. According to the study 4 % of all Social Networking users are Dutch and 26 % are belgian: hard to believe.

Richard Verbeek said...

Hi Ann, very interesting survey. I made a link to it on

Scott Allen said...

I think it's obvious that there's a significant selection bias, due to the fact that a) the sample was self-selected and b) the survey was promoted most heavily on certain sites.

That said, that doesn't mean we can't derive meaning from it -- we just have to factor in the selection bias. The respondents to this survey are primarily users of business-oriented networking sites, particularly Ecademy and Xing.

It's clear from a look at more objective sources, like comCast or Quantcast, that neither Xing or Ecademy is anywhere close to Facebook or MySpace in terms of popularity -- in Belgium or anywhere else.

And of course it's no surprise that "89% put 'professional use' as their number one reason to join an online community" -- that's the selection bias right there.

Still, if we consider this a survey primarily of Ecademy & Xing users, there's some very interesting information.

Pinoy Rich Jerk said...

Related article on getting paid for completing online surveys.

Linda said...

Hi! I'm going to create my own social network like this women network so, your post is really useful for me. Thanks!