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> Another possibility worth considering is that people in other cities
> are using other online tools rather than Facebook. For example, Orkut
> is particularly big in Brazil (despite its origins in the US). There
> might be some interesting analysis to be done regarding which social
> networking sites do well in various locations, but I'd be very wary of
> making general conclusions for a particular city based on its
> citizens' participation in a single site.
There definitely is a strong clustering effect in social networking sites --
I would think that's exactly what this group would expect. For while many
people meet and make connections online on the site, they also invite their
meatspace friends to join.
Furthermore, once there is a small cluster within a geographical area, that
increases the retention when new people join from that area, as the first
activity of many people when they join these sites is to look for people or
groups within their area. If they find them and get engaged, they are more
likely to stay than if they don't.
As Joshua mentioned, Orkut is huge in Brazil, even though it was started in
Silicon Valley. Ryze is especially popular in India, even though it was also
started in Silicon Valley. Xing (formerly openBC), although started in
Germany, has developed a large concentration of Chinese members.
Regarding people using them and for what, I refer you to my book and blogs:
I have a major project coming out some time in the next month or so that
will answer that question on a very large scale regarding LinkedIn in
particular. I'll be happy to announce it to the list when it comes out.
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