Top Five Non-US Social Networks - affiliateprograms.comSocial networks are quickly becoming the advertising and backlink source of choice for affiliate marketers.

While Social Media hasn’t, and likely won’t, displace Google as the leader of online advertising and traffic, it still presents a terrific opportunity for affiliate marketers. It’s even giving Google a serious run for its money in terms of traffic, with Facebook recently catching up to Google as the web’s most visited site. And even though Facebook’s traffic has suffered of late, it remains a serious player.

So, while Google remains the leader, it’s getting some serious competition. And that competition is coming from social networking sites around the world, which can help bring new visitors and new sales to your affiliate marketing site.

If you target a number of international markets, there are several social networking sites, in addition to Facebook, that you’ll want to acquaint yourself with:

LinkedIn – This is the leading social networking site for discussions about business. Less of a “social” network and more of a “portfolio” network, LinkedIn also has hundreds of groups that could be relevant to your niche. The great thing about LinkedIn groups is that it’s easy to join them and they are very welcoming to newcomers. That means it’s easy exchange business connections, and join networking groups, and keep up with your peers. While you won’t make anything in direct sales of products here, it’s a great opportunity to spread your brand and attract more traffic to your site. (Size: More than 100 million users; Markets: Global)

Twitter – While you often hear more about Twitter in the media, Twitter still lacks the broad appeal of Facebook. It has also failed to turn a profit as consistently and quickly as Facebook. Nonetheless, it’s a communications powerhouse and can be a great resource for keeping your site’s visitors engaged and coming back. As far as getting direct traffic from Twitter from people who don’t already know about your business, that’s a challenge. Still, a Twitter feed is easy to set up and maintain, and can be a great traffic driver in some niches. (Size: More than 400 million users; Markets: Global)

Sonico.com – This is a very popular social networking site in Latin America. Check out this Mashable article for direct numbers on how Sonico beat Facebook and MySpace in leading Latin markets. “Only in the Brazilian market does Sonico allow that it is the second-largest network, behind Orkut,” 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)

Friendster – One of the earliest social networking sites, Friendster isn’t nearly as popular in the U.S. as Facebook. But it’s a useful international site. More than 90% of Friendster’s traffic comes from Asia. (Size: Approx. 60 million; Markets: Primarily Asia, United States)

Orkut – Google’s pre-Google Buzz and Google Plus social networking site (acquired in 2004) never really caught on in the United States. But it’s done quite well in India and Brazil. If you’re targeting either of those regions, you’ll want to establish a presence on Orkut, which you can do through your Gmail account. (Size: 66 million users; Markets: Brazil, India)

While this list isn’t comprehensive, it should give you a good idea of where and how to get started building an international presence in social networks.

You may notice that once-popular sites such as Bebo and MySpace aren’t on this list. While they may fit your needs, most affiliates find they don’t provide a significant amount of traffic or sales.

As you build more of an international presence for your site, be sure to add your comments below and let us know how you’re doing!