In early 2007, SHIFT CEO Todd Defren commissioned a map of the social media world to better visualize the social media landscape. This was a simpler time, when MySpace ruled the social media sphere and people still blogged heavily on services like LiveJournal.
Today, the world is radically different, and thus it was time to revisit the social media world map. This time, we wanted to place it in a context that more people would know, and so we mapped out the social media landscape against the world of Westeros, the lands featured in George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones:
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How did we build the new map? We took published user base data for as many social networks as we could round up, loaded them into analytics software, and turned the data into treemaps. Then we cut the treemaps into individual squares and gave them to our Creative Services team. Sarah Muscarella, also an avid Game of Thrones fan, aligned all of the squares with the maps of Westeros and Essos, and created the map you now see. We also added a couple dozen little Easter eggs on the map, if you look closely.
Like the Targaryens, MySpace fell from the throne, and the War of Five Networks rages on today. The current occupant of the Iron Throne, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, battles it out for supremacy against Reid Hoffman’s LinkedIn and the combined might of Google and YouTube. In the North, whole new app economies threaten traditional social networks, such as Kik, WhatsApp (which was annexed by Zuckerberg, a bit like the Lannisters subverting the Freys), WeChat, Snapchat, and so many others.
To the east are the social networks that have massive user bases, but aren’t covered in traditional Western media. Russia’s Vkontakte, China’s QZone, QQ, and Sina Weibo, and Korea’s Cyworld all have user bases that eclipse many of the Western social networks.
How long can Mark Zuckerberg sit on the Iron Throne? Will networks of the East chip away at the dominance of the traditional powers?
“In the game of thrones, even the humblest pieces can have wills of their own. Sometimes they refuse to make the moves you’ve planned for them.”
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology
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