Advertising refers to the act of bringing some new idea or product to the attention of the masses. It is aimed at promotion of particular services or goods. Social network, on the one hand, refers to sites hosted online through the internet, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and MySpace among others. Thus, advertising on social network service predetermines the process of creating public awareness concerning online goods and services. This research seeks to outline the history of this commercial activity, its prevailing trends, impacts, drawbacks and limitations, as well as predict the future of advertising on social network. Advertising plays an integral role in today’s business world in that it connects the manufacturers and producers of goods and services to their potential clients and consumers.
These social sites have attracted attention of the business community who discovered that they can easily reach their potential consumers through the sites. Millions of people across the world interact on these sites mostly for recreation, keeping at par with fashion trends, health and fitness, and many more other things related to social matters. Advertisers discovered that they could use the forums to bring the availability of certain goods and services to public attention. Some corporations invented various techniques of advertising, including the most common Google search engine, while others created product groups that individuals can easily join by way of liking the page from a social networking website, such as Facebook.
Social network advertising is a phenomenon that emerged in the year 2000 that saw many social networking sites coming into existence. Social networks sites emerged targeting to ease people’s interaction through the sharing of common interests such as movies, education social, discuss social issues among others. This phenomenon changed the approach of business particularly advertising as individuals ventured into area in a bid reach their potential customers.
Much has been discussed about the emergence social network advertising with the earliest taking the form telegraphs that served to transmit as well as receive messages over long distances in 1792. Evolution in social network has seen the current trend hinging on digital media. Since the advent of email in 1960s, there was extensive use of computers but it was until 1991 that the internet came into existence.
The initial social networking site came into existence in 1997. SixDegrees.com enabled users to create their own profiles as well as provide a list of their friends. The website attracted millions of users who enjoyed the service of interacting on such innovative forum. However, the company closed down in 2000 after the service failed to receive any monetary advantages for sustainability. After its failure, other websites such as Cyworld, LiveJournal, AsianAvenue and BlackPlanet emerged almost immediately. The invention of the Internet changed the scope of advertising completely. Initially, advertising was only broadcast on television and radio, having limited impact on the audience.
The discovery of pay internet services expanded the scope of social network advertising, giving it a global coverage, especially for multinational companies. The invention of the Internet brought about significant advantages in that it formed a basis for further innovations. Hence, it led to the innovation of social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace among others. At first, critics dismissed the social sites as a passing discovery, but, to the contrary, social networks have grown enormously, attracting thousands of users daily. Research shows that the sites register 60 million new applicants every month. The majority of users of these social sites are the youth since this phenomenon captures young and adventurers individuals who take great interest in keeping pace with the trend.
However, the launch of Ryze.com in 2001 changed the trend completely. The website aimed at enabling people to connect in terms of their professions helped to link potential employees to their potential employers. The founder introduced the website on other social sites, such as LinkedIn, Tribe.net and Friendster. Soon afterwards, administrators of these sites came to an understanding that they could exist without suffocating each other. However, Friendster’s fame waned quickly following a wild rumor that it intended to turn into a paid net service. It made many people vacate the site, especially in 2003 to join the newly formed MySpace.
MySpace enabled users to customize their own profile according to their preferences and added features in accordance with the demands set forth by the users. The website became a big attraction for teenagers and the newest invention in the history of social network evolution. Each country presented a social site that became favorite for citizens of a certain state. For instance, Orkut became very popular in India as well as in Brazil.
The launching of Facebook in 2004 attracted many American university students. The website further allowed anyone with an email address to join the fun worldwide, but still 85% of users hailed from America. The invention of YouTube also caused a huge following, especially amongst online business communities. To this date, the aforementioned social sites have continued to improve their features, attracting millions and millions of users worldwide. The number of users has remained on an upward projector since researchers assert that, eventually, the whole world can be connected to these social websites. The urge to keep pace with the market trend explains the pressure behind individuals to join these social networking sites. Society has undergone tremendous changes that necessitate individuals to rely on these social sites for more information on the dynamics of life.
Concentration of advertisers on social sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube in an attempt to reach their potential targets, has been the recent trend. Facebook, MySpace and YouTube still define the latest trend in the invention of social networking sites. Corporations are not contented with posting their advertisements only on these popular websites. Therefore, they started to develop own sites to advertise their products. Corporations have created Facebook business pages, filling out profiles with necessary information about a particular company, which enables to invite individuals to like their page or follow their events.
These sites provide a forum in order for potential targets to chat with the support system or with officials from certain companies about their products and services. The sites have opened live forum where the customers or potential clients ask questions, seek clarification and express complaints, getting immediate feedback. Owing to the current trend in social networking advertising, corporations invest heavily in online advertising as they realized that the population found online outweighs those traditionally reached through television and radio.
They have discovered that they reach a larger audience by posting their advertisements online than presenting the necessary information via offline channels. Corporations have adopted the trend of hiring IT experts as well as website designers to keep their online websites updated. Some corporations have also devised ways of staying ahead of the stiff competition in online advertising by significantly lowering data requirements for users who visit their websites, completely catering for data charges of potential clients. It means that those interested in exploring the company’s website to find out more information about a given product or service do it free of charge. This strategy has succeeded greatly in that it has encouraged millions of interested individuals to join company’s websites and familiarize with its products or services.
Advertising on social networking sites has greatly affected corporations as well as consumers. The first noticeable impact is the large coverage. Advertisements posted on online websites, such as YouTube and MySpace, have reached the target audience worldwide. Research conducted in 2007 in America indicated that MySpace, Facebook and YouTube received roughly 161 million visitors in the United States alone. This is nearly half of the total of American population. The large coverage has enabled the corporations to reach their targets in other continents, making them penetrate new markets and increasing their sales volume and subsequent profits. It has also resulted in the enlargement and growth of multinational corporations, which have opened branches in almost every part of the world.
Social network advertising has significantly reduced the cost of advertisements. It is obvious that advertising on social sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and You Tube, is much cheaper than through traditional media. Creative advertising methods have also enabled corporations to generate free broadcasting. It has lowered advertising costs since corporations used to spend much money, paying for television and radio airtime. The traditional media charged corporations expensively, especially during prime time, which greatly affected profit margins of the businesses.
Further improvement of online commercial activity has also brought about targeted advertising. Since advertisers have unlimited access to their target market’s interests, they easily customize their advertisements. Thus, they protect these interests, being able to customize their adverts at the progressive level they never achieved before. For instance, if the Facebook user posts swimming as his/her hobby on the profile, then advertisers can design an advertisement with swimming as an area of focus. For example, it can recommend the ideal lotion to apply after swimming to avoid skin dryness. It will most likely attract the individual towards the product. Such advertisements will allure people interested in the product or service and avoid bothering those who have no interest in the same good.
Timely advertising has been achieved through this new trend. Since most individuals worldwide spend more time on the Internet than on traditional forms of media, such as television, radio and newspapers, it affirms that an advertisement posted online will reach the target audience at the right time. When individuals use social media during their recreational activities, they are more likely to encounter the advertisement, which lessens the time needed for it to reach its potential audience. Individuals frequently access social websites through their mobile phones. These gadgets are portable and multipurpose as opposed to the traditional media, such as television. It is limited to houses, making many people avoid the advertisements.
The rise of social networking advertising has reduced corporations’ competition for space typical of the traditional media. Corporations used to compete fiercely for the limited and precious prime time on television or radio, and the traditional media used to take advantage of this competition to exploit the companies. However, the scenario has changed. People have discovered that online advertising is more effective in delivery of message; moreover, it saves time and money.
Social media advertising has enjoyed considerable success, but it has also faced drawbacks, including compromising the privacy of individuals. Advertisers go to great lengths, trying to find out the consumers’ tastes and preferences in order to customize their products and design advertisements that deliver their messages effectively. In the process of carrying out these online researches, they end up infringing the privacy of individuals. Some actions even result in court cases. Companies have been taken to courts, being accused of stalking and infringing individuals’ privacy. Such lawsuits resulted not only in severe penalties, such as huge fines, but also tainted the image of the business.
Another drawback of online advertising is that it has increased copyright infringement cases. Individuals have been sued for infringing copyright regulations or stealing intellectual property. Website designers have been involved in fierce battles in an attempt to control online traffic and drive it towards the company’s products and services. At the same time, others took shortcuts by stealing or literally copying others’ advertisements. Just as in the previous case, corporations have spent millions to settle legal issues resulting from the malpractice at the cost of development and expansion of the business.
There is also competition of different advertisers, which has reduced the effectiveness of the advertisements as the online community, encountering thousands of these advertisements online, finds itself divided on which advertisement to follow and which one to avoid. To some extent, the advertisements bother individuals who simply turn them off. Some advertisements have also been found to spread serious viruses online, creating fear among the target population. Hence, more and more people stand aback from all advertisements for fear of crashing their laptops or devices that they use to access the Internet. This protective approach of online users reduces the effectiveness of these forms of advertisements in that they fall within control of the target audience, being able to turn them off when they wish.
Despite the fact that online advertisement reaches a bigger population than the traditional media advertisement, it is limited to individuals who can access the Internet. This excludes a number of people since not everyone has access to Internet, and even those who have access to it remain cautious about the outcomes of this accessibility. Infrastructural development has remained a big challenge, especially in the developing countries, losing a large number of potential consumers, who can view the advertisements.
Corporations forcibly incur extra costs in hiring Information Technology experts as well as websites designers to sustain their online activities. Some companies started to train their staff, which has increased the costs of running businesses. These experts ensure that the websites remain updated all the time and maintain contact with the clients, responding to their claims. Some associations have simply employed a new staff to handle online clients on a full-time basis. Thus, some personnel work on shifts, the other staff works during the day, while other employees work during the night. Website’s failure has also been a major drawback of online advertising. At times, the websites experience technical failures, inconveniencing the users and slowing service delivery. Some websites remain for long without being updated, presenting stale information to the clients. Individuals like stumbling upon new information every time they log onto the websites. Thus, persisted presentation of stale information discourages the visitors.
Another limitation is that hackers take advantage of these online forums to hack corporations’ websites and steal vital information. These misdeeds expose corporations to their competitors, leading to unfair competition. Hacking has become the biggest threat to this trend since corporations have lost millions of dollars of cash, trying to restore their hacked websites. After hacking these sites, some of the hackers sell the information they acquire to rivals of harmed corporations, leading to loss of businesses. It requires corporations to establish strong securities in order to avoid hacking incidences. However, it has to be accomplished at an extra cost.
Cases of fraud have also been increased as some individuals use the image of certain well-established corporations to steal from unsuspecting clients online. Some advertisements have also helped to mislead potential clients through their ill-prepared advertisements posted online. Since online space is limited, corporations edit their advertisements, leaving very little information that may not be satisfactory to the potential clients. Analyzing little information makes the clients be susceptible to counterfeit products.
The current trend suggests that online advertisements will eventually surpass the traditional media advertising since more and more individuals work and recreate online. Ongoing technological advancement, especially on the innovation of more social websites, ascertains these claims. Businesses will also shun traditional media and fully embrace advertising on social networking sites. This will negatively affect traditional media that used to rely largely on advertisements as their main sources of income. However, this will result in overreliance on online advertising that may also bring challenges.
Most corporations will go global in the near future since advertising on social websites has enabled them to reach potential markets in other continents. Since every individual with a smart phone can have access to these online advertisements, it means almost everyone in the world can have access to these adverts, helping to create a universal awareness about certain products and services. Corporations will develop through different networks by opening branches worldwide to reach their new clients.
However, it is possible that this overwhelming interest in online advertising will fade if another innovation emerges. More enticing breakthrough may capture modern people, which will use the current favorite sites in order to keep abreast of this novelty. In the same manner as people abandoned the traditional media for the sake of online social sites, they can lose interest in favorite networks for the sake of an innovation. However, nowadays, competition for space on online forums will most likely transfer from the traditional media to the online platform. Corporations may find themselves in stiff competition for attention by the online community, resulting in cases when representatives of certain companies engage in business malpractices to stay afloat. Furthermore, advertisements flood social networking sites day by day, which can make the online community use the sites more rarely, coming back to the traditional media in order to avoid advertisements. Too much advertising becomes a nuisance for the viewers, especially for those who go online to find recreation. It spoils the relaxing atmosphere that individuals look for when they view social sites.
Online sites gained popularity because they did not have the disturbances of advertisements as it used to be the case with traditional media. On the Internet, individuals feel they have control over the advertisements as they can choose what they want to see and at the same time, discard what they do not want to concentrate on. However, crowding advertisements on these social sites will certainly make individuals turn elsewhere for recreational activities. It is also possible that future advertisements will be free of charge, as corporations have started establishing free advertising media. Reduction of the advertising cost will certainly increase the profit margins of businesses, encouraging their development and growth.
To conclude, it suffices to mention that even though advertising on social websites has brought about various challenges, the advantages of this kind of advertising far outweigh the limitations. Online advertising has greatly revolutionized the practice of this marketing communication, making it affordable to businesses and timely to the target populations. The scope of this advertising has greatly increased, encompassing different kinds of diaspora. This innovation made many corporations go global by way of opening branches all over the world. The product and service awareness created by advertising on online social websites has improved business sales, increasing the profit margins of many firms. However, the issue of firms engaging in intellectual theft has emerged again. Its serious implications have affected businesses, being obliged to spend heavily on legal suits resulting from the malpractice.