Monday, November 26, 2007

Connecting the Social Graph: Member Overlap at OpenSocial and Facebook

original article here

Written by Alex Patriquin (e-mail) -- November 12th, 2007

OpenSocial is a Google-led initiative to get into social networking (in a bigger way than Orkut)
and, purportedly, to create “open standards” so users can access their
data on any social network. The project is still taking shape, but it
looks like it will give users access to widgets across a bunch of
social networks, at least as a first phase.


Looking at the OpenSocial coalition of social networks, some, like LinkedIn,
clearly fall into the professional branches of the “social graph” or
that virtual map of all our relationships. Other social networks, like Friendster are much more personal in nature.


Facebook, though not in
OpenSocial, may be the only social network to have criss-crossed
professional and personal boundaries, at least among internet
professionals. Lastly, the family branch of the social graph, can be
found on sites like Ancestry.com.


As developers think about connecting the disparate branches of the
social graph, either through widget access, personal data portability
or an aggregator for easy management, Compete asks, “How do the user
communities of the social graph overlap today?”



This chart shows the members of any 2 social networks as a
percentage of the members of the social network in the purple row. So,
for instance, 20% of MySpace members are also Facebook members.


  • Meanwhile, 64% of Facebook members also belong to MySpace. This
    asymmetry makes sense when you consider MySpace has nearly 3x the
    unique visitors of Facebook and a few years head start.
  • Bebo, Hi5 and Friendster all share more than 49% of their members with MySpace.
  • Plaxo, Salesforce and Viadeo share more members with LinkedIn (the largest professional social network by 4x) than with either MySpace or Facebook.
  • LinkedIn shares 42% of its members with Facebook and 32% with MySpace.
  • Ning, which lets users customize their own social networks, has greater overlap with both MySpace and Facebook than with LinkedIn.

We can see the social graph, as it is online today, consists of
mainly personal relationships, though a large group of users belong
exclusively to professional social networks and many belong to both. A
collective solution to bringing the entire social graph online might do
well to take a closer look at the particular needs of this early
adoption crossover group.


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