Since its launch in 2004, Facebook has attracted a big enough user base to populate a small continent. As it continues to swallow competitors and absorb their innovations, Facebook is already tipped to be in competition with Google as the primary means of navigating the web. However, you only need to look at the demise of the once mighty MySpace to know that Facebook's domination can quickly crumble if something shinier comes along.
So which social networking sites is it worth marketers keeping an eye on? It's a safe bet that you already know about LinkedIn, Bebo and, of course, Twitter. So here's a rundown of the lesser known social networks that could, one day, be snapping at Facebook's heels:
Friendster - This site is huge in Asia, where it gets 90% of its traffic, with 115 million registers users and 61 million unique visitors a month. Friendster is due to launch a music portal focused on independent music, so worth a look if you've got a band and want to build an Asian fan base. It's also added social gaming to tap into the huge popularity of social gaming. So if you fancy a game of Boomz, 3Kingdom or Lady Popular, head on over.
Orkut - This social networking site is largely unheard of in the UK, which is surprising when you consider its backer is Facebook's future nemesis Google. Whilst it's still got some ground to make, with a mere 100 million active users, Orkut is very popular in India and Brazil. It also ranks as the #1 social networking site in Estonia, and was popular in Iran before it was banned.
Habbo - Whilst it might look like something you'd play on a Sinclair Spectrum, Habbo celebrated its 10th anniversary last August and has over 118 million users. Aimed at teenagers, players can create rooms in virtual hotels as well as buy furniture and interact with other players. Habbo has been in the news after police were called due to cases of 'virtual furniture theft', amounting to £850 worth in some cases. The list of suspects at Habbo Hotel is believed to still need whittling down.
hi5 - This website has a younger demographic which are attracted to its huge collection of social games. Seeing this as it's USP, hi5 recently remodelled itself as the 'largest social entertainment site focused on gaming'. People playing games accounts for a third of hi5's 50 million unique visitors every month, most of which come from Latin America.
PerfSpot - This website pitches itself as a place for exploring the funny, shocking and 'crazy' corners of the internet. Members form groups based on interests rather than friendship in the real world, and they can use PerfSpot to share links, videos and chat. It only has a relatively few 590,000 members though, so I don't think it will have Facebook looking over its shoulder just yet.
Zorpia - This website seems to be predominantly used as an online dating website, with people able to search their local area for singletons. Zorpia's 16 million members can customise their profiles, share videos, chat in forums and take part in a 'Hot'n'Verified Contest' if they like. Plans to connect Zorpia profiles with those in LinkedIn have yet to be announced.
BDA (Buckingham Design Associates) blog - real people giving real opinions, and a complete lack of agency waffle. Award winners BDA deliver an exciting blend of design and creative marketing for the Oxford, Milton Keynes, Northampton and London region.