Social networking sites are suddenly rising to the top of the Alexa ranked sites on the internet, as well as blazing a steep trail through the stock market. So, what is causing the sudden rise is both arenas? What is causing their amazing success, and what kind of impact will their users have upon the economy? The truth of these questions is pretty simple, however the nature and depth upon how they will affect our future and society as a whole is totally a mystery. One of the main areas that will be affected by these social network societies are charities, and the ratio of donations that will be provided to them through the e-commerce which occurs within social networking sites.
First and foremost, the success of a social network is due to the amount of functionality that it provides to its users. From the dawn of the social network age, people have had simple desires and demands. Because of this fact, up until now, the success of a social network is dependent upon how many demands that it meets for its users, as well as the quality of the manner in which they meet these demands. Users want to meet new and interesting people, as well as keep in touch with friends and family. However, they don’t want to have to travel, or spend a lot of time and money through the process of doing so. Social networking sites allow users to trade messages and comments with people near and far, as well as to share pictures, videos, music, and to express their thoughts and emotions through the content and design of their profiles.
However, user needs and demands have evolved and developed over the years. As competition has grown within the social network industry, users have begun to expect the latest and greatest features and functionality within their social network. Many social network users have invested a great deal of time each and every week with communicating with their friends, and have become accustomed to spending several hours online each and every day. That, combined with the fact that social networks introduced advertising within their sites, has allowed users to now become accustomed to the fact that they can accomplish even more through their favorite social network in regards to being a consumer. Now, they can find amazing products and services through their social network, which allows them to purchase a product or service without leaving their home, or their social network for that fact! Instead of having to leave their social network to surf and shop for products, now then can find some truly amazing deals within their social network.
Users are participating in purchasing products and services found within social network sites so much, that a tremendous amount of earnings have been realized within some of the most successful social networks on the internet. In a report submitted by eMarketer back in 2007, MySpace, still the most popular social network by far, was estimated to generate $525 million in U.S. advertising revenue. Facebook, a fast growing competitor of MySpace earned around $125 million, and both were projected to have significant advertising revenue growth over the coming years. Combined, MySpace and Facebook are projected to account for 75% of social network advertising spending in 2008. Advertising revenue generated within social networks is an obvious trend which indicates that more and more social network users are looking for products and services while they are utilizing their social networks.
Along with advertising revenue being generated for the social networks, a new opportunity presents itself for the charity community. Business owners and internet marketers, who wish to assist charities by donating a portion of proceeds to charity from their earned advertising revenue, will allow charities to also benefit from their new found successes. More and more internet marketers and businesses are beginning to realize that they have the greatest ability to assist charities through this means, either on their own or through the efforts of the marketing and business opportunity representatives within the charity community. Thus, the number of charity aware advertisers within social networks are growing each and every day. At the beginning of 2007, within Facebook, the social network which put applications or widgets on the “social networking map”, had charity awareness applications numbering in the tens. Now, in 2008, you can find hundreds of applications within Facebook which either raise charity awareness, allow users to donate directly to charity, or utilize online advertising for money-saving products which donate a portion of proceeds to charity.
Without the final ingredient for this success formula, charities would not be able to benefit from this ground breaking opportunity. The final ingredient is social network user awareness. By educating the social network user community that there are advertising opportunities which benefit charities, either direct advertising or through applications and widgets, they will then have the opportunity to make a conscious decision to choose these opportunities over others. Retail sales figures over the last ten years have shown a significant trend based upon product affiliations to charities. Customers will purchase a quality product which benefits a charity through the sale, over another quality product, or even the same product, with no charity affiliation. Through this same model, we can assume that customers will be more likely to do business through e-commerce sites which provide a quality product or service online, saving the customer a trip to the store, but which also provides a portion of their proceeds to charity.
It is truly essential that the social network community become aware of these opportunities, so that they can seek them out. If a Facebook or MySpace users want to purchase a product online, then it would require that they look for advertising for that product within their network. Then, it is also imperative that they choose advertised items which also donate a portion of their proceeds to charity. Advertisers which can offer this charity affiliation, plus a discount that the consumer cannot find anywhere else, will give users a double benefit from the e-commerce transaction, and will truly find success. Even though a great deal of burden raising user awareness belongs to internet marketers, some of this user awareness burden lies on the charities themselves. Charities need to make the online community aware of these social network opportunities by marketing them on their own websites. This will ensure maximum exposure towards these social network charity donation opportunities, as well as the amount of success that the charity community will find with these endeavors.
In the end, charity awareness will determine how much success that the charity community will find through social network advertising. By raising the charity awareness of the advertising community, there will be a result of more advertisers looking to help charities through their own successes. By raising the charity awareness of the social network user community, more users will seek out e-commerce opportunities within their network that will benefit charities at the same time. Plus, by charities raising their own awareness of advertisers and social networking applications which are currently donating proceeds to the charity community, they will be able to assist them with marketing of their products and services, thus raising the user community’s awareness of their availability. If this charity awareness synergy is realized, it becomes quite apparent that the social network communities have the greatest potential to raise an immeasurable amount of charitable donations through social network e-commerce and advertising revenue.