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A Mid-Year Assessment of Social Networks in 2011

We're halfway through 2011, and a lot has happened in social media. As over 1,000 Social networks fight and innovate to grab their piece of the social networking space, the first six months of the year have included new features, redesigns, acquisitions, and IPOs... But who have been the biggest winners and losers of 2011? Let's see if we can shed some light on this question through an analysis of trends among 3,238 popular blog articles that have covered social platforms this year.

Below is a basic pie chart of the distribution of coverage by Mashable, TechCrunch, and ReadWriteWeb. The percentages given are based upon the number of times each particular social community was tagged in a blog post on one of these outlets in 2011. While we focus our attention on the 25 communities with the most coverage in this time period, the 'Other' section of the pie chart includes 163 additional social communities that have also received coverage but are not directly mentioned in this post.

2011 Social Network Article Distribution

1    Facebook

Synopsis: Facebook continues to set the pace and shows continued growth in an increasingly saturated market. While there still is chatter that Facebook will eventually have to level off, investors have shown faith (now a $70 billion dollar valuation) and their userbase continues to grow.




2    Twitter

Synopsis: Twitter's popularity maintained its growth and their function as an important platform for any breaking news event was again confirmed in the first 6 months of 2011. Additionally, as popular Twitter-based applications grow, Twitter has sought to regain control over their developer climate.




3    YouTube

Synopsis: YouTube continues to lead an increasingly competitive video-sharing space. Despite many new features aimed to expand into other areas of online video-sharing, the network continues to thrive on its "viral" videos.




4    FourSquare

Synopsis: Foursquare has maintained steady growth. Much of their buzz revolves around the ability for local businesses to geotarget advertising.




5    LinkedIn

Synopsis: A huge IPO, several new features, and continued user growth has kept LinkedIn in the headlines.




6    Zynga

Synopsis: Zynga is establishing itself as the leader in online games.




7    Skype

Synopsis: After joining Microsoft in a high-profile acquisition, the world is waiting to see what is next for Skype.




8    Quora

Synopsis: Since Quora's launch, the popular question and answer service has not been short on hype. The debated question is how can they differentiate themself from a crowded field of knowledge-sharing networks and live up to the hype.




9    tumblr

Synopsis: Tumblr is in the middle of a period of growth accompanied by an increasingly social and multi-media focus.




10    Instagram

Synopsis: Instagram has capitalized on a growing mobile photosharing market by fine-tuning the quality and speed of the photosharing process.




11    Flickr

Synopsis: Flickr has stayed fairly constant despite questions of Yahoo's commitment to the photosharing giant.




12    Hulu

Synopsis: Hulu's popularity highlights an ongoing trend towards watching TV online.




13    GroupMe

Synopsis: After starting the year with a $10.6 Million dollar funding round, GroupMe has added a number of features and attempted to expand their horizons as they become a major player in group texting.




14    Kickstarter

Synopsis: Kickstarter leads an expanding crowdfunding niche that has seen several new competitors enter the market in the past 6 months.




15    Myspace

Synopsis: MySpace is completing its plummet from the top of the social networking industry.




16    Reddit

Synopsis: Reddit has moved ahead to join Digg, StumbleUpon, and a select few others at the forefront of the social bookmarking race.




17    Digg

Synopsis: As competitors catch up, Digg is moving forward with a complete site redesign to try to maintain its marketshare.




18    Path

Synopsis: Path's controlled approach will make it one of the more interesting case studies for privacy oriented social networking.




19    SCVNGR

Synopsis: SCVNGR is quietly increasing its userbase and maintaining its position in a growing location-based networking niche.




20    Airbnb

Synopsis: Airbnb is reaching worldwide popularity and its recent valuation shows its potential.




21    Yelp

Synopsis: Yelp has thusfar been resilient to competition and continued to expand.




22    Yammer

Synopsis: Yammer continues to release new features as it seeks to become the leading social platform for organizations




23    SoundCloud

Synopsis: SoundCloud is riding a classic exponential growth curve and is acquiring 20,000 users/day.




24    Gowalla

Synopsis: GoWalla has shown steady growth in the first half of 2011.




25    Loopt

Synopsis: Loopt's deal-oriented community is the 4th location-based network on this list... quality location-based networks continue to find ways to grow and build hype.




Honorable Mention:    StumbleUpon

Synopsis: While StumbleUpon missed the top 25 (with only 15 articles in this time period), they have taken off in the past several months and I would be surprised if they aren’t covered more extensively for the rest of 2011.

What are your thoughts? Who have been the winners and losers in the first half of 2011? Which social platforms are best positioned for the future?

Join The Conversation

  • Vinod Nambiar's picture
    Jul 7 Posted 6 years ago Vinod Nambiar

    Here's a humorous take on the stats. It does mirror human tendency to hang around with friends @Facebook, and talk "non-stop" when given an opportunity with no limits @Twitter :).

    Great post.  

  • Jul 5 Posted 6 years ago Derek (not verified)

    I understand the methodology used but I feel like Google should have been featured here as well - especially with the launch of Google+. I'm sure they will have a bigger impact in the next 6 months but even if only for the past few days, they've certainly had a large impact on the first 6 months.

  • Jul 5 Posted 6 years ago Ryan Critchett (not verified)

    Interesting list. It all makes sense! Fbook and Twitter still dominating. Good point about Quora. Will they live up to the hype? How will they differentiate themselves? Aardvark (vark.com) is a pretty cool Q&A resource as well. 

    Tumblr. I think they have a lot of potential for the future. 

  • Jul 3 Posted 6 years ago juanmarketing (not verified)


    There is actually an infographics talking about that. Check it here http://bit.ly/i1s7ro

    Passion makes the difference

  • amzini's picture
    Jul 1 Posted 6 years ago amzini

    I'd love to hear from you on this one...

    My thoughts:

    Of the many social communities that have made improvements this year...

    * FourSquare, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Instagram have been the biggest winners thus far

    * Tumblr, StumbleUpon and Instagram are best positioned to gain ground on competition in the second half of the year

    * FourSquare, Quora, and KickStarter have to continue to differentiate themselves from growing competition

    Also, I'm interested to see how the rollout of Google Plus will fit into this picture

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