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.