The impact of advertising on social networking sites Essay

The impact of advertising on social networking sites

Introduction

In the world today, the social networking websites have a huge impact on the people. They are not just meant for the teenagers and the youth or for any particular gender but both males and females belonging to any age group are familiar with the social networking websites. Initially, these websites were only meant for the teenagers but today more and more people are getting accustomed to them and are using them. There are many websites that serve the purpose of socializing but not all of them are known or being used by the people. The names of some of the social networking websites are mentioned below.

Facebook
Orkut
Sonico
Bebo
Tagged
Flickr
Google Buzz

However, people do not use all these websites for networking. Previously the people used to use Orkut very frequently but nowadays Facebook is on its boom and it is being used by all the people. Although the concept of Social networking websites is that they are mainly for the teenagers and the youth but today this concept has changed and everyone is using these websites frequently. Some of the social networking websites such as Facebook and Sonico are for general purpose while others such as Raptr are for video games; SocialVibe is for charity and WYAN for travel and lifestyle particularly. However, whichever the website may be, advertising has a huge impact on the social networking websites that serve as the best arena for the advertisers to advertise in order to promote their commodities (Sutherland & Alice,2008).

Purpose of Social networking websites

As the word social says, the primary purpose of these websites is basically for the people to socialize with their friends and family. Moreover, people are also going beyond this since these websites also allow the people to interact with other people who are complete strangers to them.  From all the social networking websites that have been mentioned above, Facebook is the most popular website that people are using to socialize and to interact with each other.

Advertising

Companies advertise their products and services in order to create awareness of the commodities they are offering to the customers and for this, they often choose the places where there is a very high rate of customer viewership. Since Facebook has become the most popular social networking website, more and more advertisers are getting attracted to it for the sole purpose of advertising.

Benefit of advertising on social networking websites

Companies have to allocate a very huge budget just to advertise and their aim is always to maximize the sales by creating awareness about the commodity. For this purpose, the companies always try to choose the best medium of advertising.

Although the companies have many options that they can avail, they always want to choose the option that ensures that most of its target market will view the ad whether it is being aired on the television or being published in the newspapers or magazines. However, there are many chances for wastages in all the conventional methods and places of advertising(Castells, 1996).

When the advertisers advertise on the social networking websites, they can avoid hundred percent wastages. This is because the people who use the social networking websites mention their age, gender and some other details on their accounts. All this information is required by the advertisers to know their target market. Since the social networking websites provide the advertisers with these details, the advertisers can easily differentiate their target market from the other users(Sutherland & Alice,2008).

Benefit of advertising to the social networking websites

When the companies advertise, they pay a certain amount to the social networking websites and this is the main revenue generating source for these websites. The companies therefore do not charge anything from the customers or the users of the social networking websites but their sole source of income is from the advertisements that are placed on the websites(Castells, 1996).

Examples

For instance, if Sunsilk wants to advertiser on the social networking websites, they first define their target market and then place their ads. The company actually tells about the age group and the gender of their target market to the social networking website owners or to the management responsible for the advertisements and they then place the ads accordingly. The ads that are for a particular age group or gender are only visible to that particular market segment only. Similarly, if there is a product such as video game that is meant particularly for the teenagers, the ad only becomes visible to the people of that age group. Other examples include Pampers by P & G. Only the mothers are the target market for diapers to the ad for Pampers is only visible in the accounts of the females having married as their relationship status. It can thus be said that the social networking websites have made advertising easier and less costly. The advertising costs gets saved in a way that wastages of advertising gets completely reduced or no wastages occur like it does on the television and in the newspapers(Kelsey,2010).

Pros and cons of social networking websites

Since more and more people are getting aware of the presence and the usage of the social networking websites, the number of users is increasing. Previously what was thought to be something of no value is now being used by everyone for the purpose of socializing with friends and for networking. People thought of the social networking websites to be something that were a complete waste of time but today the healthy use of these websites has been discovered and is being used in a healthy manner.

Pros

The people who use these websites have many advantages besides being able to stay in touch with their friends and family. People can easily know about one another and keep themselves updated about everything new that is happening to the people they are connected to. Moreover, these websites also allow the users to share photos with their friends. The users can use various applications and can also play games on these websites, do quizzes and some websites such as Facebook also allows the users to chat with their friends who are online. People can also join groups and like certain activities or personalities, etc besides which they can also keep themselves updated about the birthdays of their friends and about any new events that might occur(Kelsey,2010).

Cons

The social networking websites have brought the people closer to one another but it has its own disadvantages as well. Firstly, the people have to be totally aware how to use their accounts on their websites, they should know the privacy controls they can apply if they do not wish to share something with anyone. Other than this, people are getting too much addicted to these websites especially on Facebook and Twitter where they keep on updating their status and share them with the world. The teenagers who are spending too much time on these websites do not concentrate more on studies because of which their grades get affected negatively.  Since the use of computers and Internet has greatly increased, so has the number of hackers. People use various techniques to hack the accounts of the users of these websites and can access all the information of that user because of which it is often unsafe to display all the private data such as photos on these websites (Kelsey,2010).

Conclusion

Since everything has its own set of pros and cons, so do the social networking websites and to lighten these cons, I would suggest some recommendations.

Firstly, the governments should come up with certain laws that should be implemented with respect to these websites.
The management of the social networking websites should provide full security to every user in order to ensure that their accounts do not get hacked. However, the users themselves should also take measures to keep their accounts secure from the hackers.
The social networking websites should provide the facility of privacy settings to the users to that they can keep limitations to the people they wish to share their things with. Since everything is visible to everyone on the social networking websites, the users should also be allowed to customize their settings and make them visible to their close friends only.
Since the social networking websites are being used too much, they waste a lot of time of the users despite of the fact that they help in keeping the users updated about everything. The students especially are the ones who get most effected from the usage of these websites because they spend most of their time using these websites and they do not study.
The advertisements that are placed on these websites are often colourful and they attract the people but a lot of advertising is sometimes harmful for the people. Since most of the users of the social networking websites are the young people, they get to know about new things and the advertisements are so flashy and attractive that the youth sees them and then desires to have them after which they force their parents to get those products for them. However, it is not always easy for the parents to fulfil all the wishes of their children either due to financial constraints or due to some other reasons such as cultural factors. Although advertising informs the prospective customers about the new products, the impact of advertising on the social networking websites can also be negative as well. To minimize the negative effect, the social networking websites should not give too much advertisements and only healthy brands should be advertised(Duncan,2005).
Summary

It is quite apparent that the social networking websites are largely being used by the people today. Previously, these websites were not used b y the people much and they were only meant for the teenagers and the youth for the sole purpose of socializing with their friends and to make new friends. However, this has totally been proved wrong today as the people today are making the full use of these websites. People from every age group use the social networking websites to stay in touch with their friends, family and for networking. Some social networking websites are for general purpose while some are meant particularly for movies or for books. Facebook is one social networking website that is very popular today and it is being used by everyone. We also find it surprising that not only the youngsters but the older people are also active on this website.

The reason why advertisers advertise is to promote their products and to make the people aware about the presence of the commodities they are offering. For this purpose, they advertise but previously the two main places where they used to place advertisements were the televisions and the newspapers. However, now the advertisers use the social networking websites to advertise their brands. This saves a lot of cost of the advertisers as they are able to reduce advertisement wastages as these websites enable them to show the ads only to the target market that is the prospective market of the product they want to sell. These websites allow the users to enjoy various benefits such as staying in touch with the people they want to, messaging their friends and to keep themselves updated.  However, the social networking websites have their advantages as well as disadvantages and to lighten the effects of the cons, there are some initiatives that should be taken.

Bibliography:

Castells, I. M.,1996. The Rise of the Network Society, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture. Available at < www.cis.aueb.gr/persons/CV-3-Castells.pdf > [ Accessed August 23, 2010]
Duncan, T.,2005. Principles of Advertising and IMC (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Kelsey, T.,2010 Social Networking Spaces: From Facebook to Twitter and Everything In Between. Apress
Sutherland. M, Alice K.,2008, Advertising and the mind of the consumer: what works and what doesn’t and why. 3rd edition

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