Today, social networks are easily the most-watched segment of Internet advertising, in the United States and worldwide.

Of course, Google is still king of SEO, and most web companies and online entrepreneurs still correctly focus a great deal of funds and energy into maintaining their position on that most dominant of search engines.

But, as we’ve previously explored here at Casino Affiliate Programs, social media and social networking sites are on the rise, too, and many businesses now regularly spend a significant portion of their marketing budget on Facebook. So, while Google may still be the most important element of online advertising, it’s getting some serious competition from social networking.

You know all about Facebook and its 600 million users. And hopefully, you’ve worked to create a presence there. But, especially if you operate in a number of international markets, there are quite a few more social networking sites you may want to acquaint yourself with:

LinkedIn – The best social networking site for the online business community, LinkedIn is less a water cooler socializing platform and more an online resume tool. And to that extent, it’s an ideal way to hook up with other casino affiliates and webmasters: The idea is to exchange business connections and join networking groups to share info and keep up with your peers. Casino advertising isn’t directly allowed, but LinkedIn’s many business opportunities still offer lots of chances to spread your brand and attract more traffic to your site.
Size: More than 100 million users
Markets: Global

Twitter – These days, Twitter’s talked about almost as much as Facebook. Forever on the verge of making a profit, Twitter’s vague business direction hasn’t stopped it from becoming a global communications powerhouse. Witness its use after the 2011 Japan earthquake or the 2009 elections in Iran. True, no one’s figured out exactly how to turn Twitter’s cultural domination into a profitable business model, but they’re working on it. And those in the casino advertising game certainly shouldn’t be ignoring Twitter.
Size: More than 400 million users
Markets: Global

Qzone – China’s biggest social networking site, with an estimated 480 million users, is the only social media site that rivals Facebook’s numbers. Gambling and casino advertising isn’t allowed in China, but anyone looking to explore that growing market’s future online marketing potential may want to start developing a presence on this growing site.
Size: 480 million users
Markets: China

Sonico.com – A very popular social networking site serving the Latin American markets (which, as we’ve recently explored here at Casino Affiliate Programs, are big up-and-comers in casino advertising). Check out this Mashable article for direct numbers on how Sonico beats Facebook and MySpace in leading Latino markets. “Only in the Brazilian market does Sonico allow that it is the second-largest network, behind Okrut,” Paul Glazowski writes in the report.
Size: More than 15 million users
Markets: Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking markets, primarily Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, and Puerto Rico

Windows Live Spaces (MSN Spaces) – Essentially a blogging platform with a high level of personalization and social networking capability, Windows Live Spaces is almost as global as Facebook itself, with availability in more than 36 markets and 15 languages, as of a few years ago. With the use of what Windows calls modules, users can add important social networking data like photos and lists. This platform also allows affiliate marketing and so can be an important tool for affiliates to increase their casino advertising reach.
Size: 120 million
Markets: Global

Friendster – One of the earliest social networking sites, Friendster isn’t nearly as popular in the U.S. as Facebook. But it’s useful as an international networking tool, with most of its users registered in Asia. “Asia is home to three-quarters of Friendster’s 58 million users, compared to 17% in the U.S., and it’s the source of 89% of the site’s traffic, compared to just 8% from North America,” explains Time Magazine.
Size: Approx. 60 million (see above)
Markets: Primarily Asia, United States

Other notable international social networking sites:
Orkut (Global, but biggest in India and Brazil)
Badoo (European and Latin American based)
Netlog (European)

On the way out?
Sites like Bebo and MySpace (and potentially Friendster) were once big in the social networking game, but have largely faded, with their owners now scrambling to figure out whether to scrap them or try to reinvent them. They’re useful as exhibits of how social networking has evolved over the past half decade, but not for much more than that (at least regarding online casino advertising).

Likewise, sites like Habbo (more than 200 million registered users) are big, but, as they’re aimed primarily at teenagers, they don’t offer the best platform for casino advertising.

Get networking
International-facing affiliates certainly shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to investigate these networks and see what kind of help they can offer to casino advertising game plans.

But this list should be viewed as a starting point, and not as a finishing line. Indeed, this collection of social networking sites barely scratches the surface of what’s out there. And in a few years, this list could be dramatically different — recall how popular MySpace was five years ago, versus today.

Still, that unpredictability shouldn’t stop you from exploring social networking as a means to boost your casino advertising campaign — it should instead clue you in to the opportunities available in a field that changes so quickly.

You may find that only one or two of these fit your particular needs and tastes (and location). Look around and see what suits you, and what’s most likely to help generate the kind of casino advertising buzz that’ll lead to the most links and traffic for your site.

Online gambling-friendly social media sites
Finally, check out this list compiled by Casino Affiliate Programs experts on the numbers and markets offered by other social networking sites that are friendly to the online gambling industry:

Name; Territory; Membership:
BlackPlanet; Africa the U.S.; 20 million
Multiply; Asia; 10 million
Orkut; Brazil and India; 100 million
Nexopia; Canada; 1.4 million
Qzone; China; 200 million
Renren; China; 15 million
Badoo; Europe; 37 million
Viadeo; Europe; 6 million
aSmallWorld; Europe (exclusive on invitation); 0.55 million
Netlog; Europe, Turkey, the Arab World; 59 million
IRC-Galleria; Finland; 0.5 million
Vkontakte; former Soviet republics; 63 million
Trombi.com; France; 4.4 million
Skyrock; French-speaking countries; 22 million
XING; Germany, Austria, Switzerland and China; 8 million
Zoo.gr; Greece; 0.89 million
Draugiem.lv; HU, LT, LV; 2.4 million
iWiW; Hungary; 0.45 million
Bigadda; India; 3 million
hi5; India,Portugal, Mongolia, Thailand, Romania, Jamaica, Central Africa and Latin America; 80 million
Sonico.com; Latin America and Spanish and Portuguese speaking region; 17 million
Nasza-klasa.pl; Poland; 11 million
Odnoklassniki; Russia and former Soviet republics; 45 million
Friendster; Southeast Asia; 90 million
Tuenti; Spain; 4.5 million
Fotolog; Spain and South America; 20 million
LunarStorm; Sweden; 1.2 million
Friends Reunited; the UK; 19 million
CouchSurfing; Worldwide; 1.5 million
Bebo; Worldwide; 40 million
Classmates.com; Worldwide; 50 million
Windows Live Spaces; Worldwide; 120 million

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