When a Swiss university sends out a press release to announce the "2013 ranking of the most valuable social media brands," people probably would not expect any surprises. People could probably guess the top three social media websites easily. But the fourth?

Let's go through them together:

Facebook is No. 1 with an estimated brand value of $34.320 billion, the study by the department of Social Media Management of HWZ University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich, in cooperation with BV4 Certified Brand Valuation Experts, says.

In second place is YouTube, with a brand value of $26.824 billion.

Third place is Twitter, with a brand worth $23.656 billion.

And, in the coveted fourth spot, at a brand value of $16.336 billion is Qzone.


The press release admits, almost apologetically, that Qzone is "less well known in the Western world."

The Chinese social media site is at qzone.com.

Echo Hu at east-west-connect.com explains what Qzone is: "Qzone belongs to the company Tencent, owner of China's most used instant messaging service, QQ. Stated simply, Qzone is a blogging platform. Its users are QQ users. … Qzone is the blogging platform for QQ users. It seems like almost everybody that uses the Internet in China has a QQ account — they have over a billion registered users. … Qzone currently has 537 million users."

Remember, the ranking by HWZ University was looking at the value of the brands — not necessarily who has the most views or users (although those things would naturally affect the value of the websites' brands).

Dominance in social media can shift quickly, though. Jeff Bullas blogs about social media's "Three Biggest Losers."

MySpace is not doing so well Bullas says. "According to Comscore, between January and February 2011, worldwide unique visitors to MySpace declined by a staggering 14.4 percent in just one month, from 73 million visitors to 63 million visitors. It's about half of the audience they had a year ago," he wrote.

Bullas also identified Friendster and Ning as big losers.

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A topically related look at Internet services brands for 2012 (not just social media) by Interbrand, put Amazon at the top of the heap with a brand worth $18.625 billion (Interbrand used a different method of calculating brand worth than HWZ University). Next in line was eBay with a brand worth $10.947 billion, followed by Facebook at $5.421 billion and Yahoo at $3.851 billion.

Friendster, by the way, still exists. You can sign up using your Facebook.

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