It can seem as if there's little standing in Facebook's path to world domination. As the social networking giant prepares for its multi-billion-dollar IPO, its rapid growth is continuing around the globe. The latest figures show it boasts more than 845 million "active" users. And a report by analytics firm Comscore shows it's the most popular network in all but seven countries.
It's managed to edge out local competitors in many markets. Brazil used to be an exception to the rule, with Google's Orkut its most popular network. But data suggests that Facebook has overtaken Orkut in the last few months. There's even a Facebook-themed nightclub in a remote corner of the Amazon rainforest, showing its global reach!
This map gives a snapshot of the popularity of the different social networks. The blue color shows where Mark Zuckerburg's brainchild is the leading player. Of course China is one major anomaly, where the site is banned under censorship laws.
One reason for Facebook's success is it manages to be "globally local". It's available in numerous languages, and people can interact with friends regardless of national borders. But much of its content is locally created, giving users the impression of belonging to both a global and a local community.
So what does this map mean for other networks? A new report from eMarketer it predicts there will be 1.43 billion social network users this year, an increase of 19.2 per cent on 2011. But will local competitiors, such as Japan's Mixi or the Netherlands' Hyves manage to hold their own against Facebook?
Of course the map doesn't give the full picture. The world of social media is more varied than it suggests. For one thing, it doesn't tell you the importance of the "runners-up" in each of these countries.
Twitter is catching up with Facebook in the United States, with predictions it will grow four times as fast this year. It's used crowdsourcing to add new languages at a rapid rate. It's just introduced support for right-to-left languages, and will no doubt increase its appeal among the fast-growing numbers of Arabic-speaking users.
As mentioned, China is an obvious gap on the Facebook's map. But even if it is allowed to gain a foothold in the world's most popular nation, there are already two hugely popular networks, Qzone and Renren. Would it persuade enough users to make the switch?
Russia, another major market, is dominated by Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, pushing Facebook into third place. These aren't just local phenomena. They've recently been gaining members to other Eastern European countries.
And the statistics on Japan can be misleading. Mixi is still the leader when the number of users accessing it via a mobile phone are taken into account.
It's also interesting to look at different uses for social network. For example, LinkedIn is widely used among professionals as a tool for business networking. A similar network, Zing, has a large number of followers among users in Northern Europe. And of course, it's hard to ignore the extraordinary growth of Pinterest in a short space of time.
A distinguishing feature of Google + is that it allows users to separate colleagues, friends and family into separate "circles". And more users are juggling multiple social media accounts, while brands experiment with different platforms for global marketing.
Facebook might have the most friends worldwide. But that's not to say the world of social networks is becoming more homogenous. It'll be fascinating to watch the shifting trends on the world's social map.