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The revolution of smartphones and increasing penetration of internet connectivity play a major role in driving the growth of social networking market. With social websites and applications being among the most used features on mobile, the coming years is certainly expected to see social media sites and optimized web becoming the norm, and contextualized real-time and geo-targeted content, a necessary component in every digital marketing strategy. Integrated social advertising, social video and agile marketing are some of the other important drivers of the global social networking market.
Amongst all the social networking sites, in terms of driving the social networking traffic, Facebook Inc. dominates the global social networking market followed by Pinterest and Twitter. In February 2014, the market for Facebook witnessed drastic change with the acquisition of Whatsapp by Facebook, which has led Facebook to maintain its increasing profits. Some of the other social networking sites driving the social networking traffic are LinkedIn, Google+, Flickr, Meetup, Instagram, Tumblr and Vine among others.
Social networking involves the use of dedicated applications or websites to interact with other users, or to find people with similar interests, activities, backgrounds, or real-life connections. Most social networking services are web-based and offer means for users to interact over the internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging. In other words, the practice of increasing the number of business and/or social contacts by making connections through individuals is known as social networking. Social networking sites enable users to share events, activities, interests and ideas within their individual networks.
One of the dominant drivers for the growth of social networking market is free access and availability of majority of social networks (such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and others). Moreover, the ease of use, user friendly interface, and instant information sharing features of the social networks are some of the other drivers of the global social networking market.
The global social networking market offers new marketing and promotional opportunities for businesses, which allows vendors to increase their revenues, by reaching target audiences at low cost. The use of social networking sites on mobile devices is also a major opportunity in the social networking market. With the advent of cheaper handsets and affordable data connections, the social networking market is expected to experience high growth. Social networking sites have become a valuable, low cost marketing tool, particularly for consumer-facing organizations appealing to the tech-savvy world. With the advent of many social networking platforms, there has been an increase in the average time spend by user on various social networking sites. This has opened up new opportunities for marketers to promote various brands and products through social networking sites.
However, concern over the identity thefts and security of personal information are the major challenges for social networks around the globe. Criminal gangs target social networking sites, as they offer an effective way of propagating malware to a wide, unsuspecting audience. The Orkut worm (2007), MySpace trojan (2006), and the secret crush Facebook widget (2008) are some examples of illegal groups that have used social networking sites in past for their advantage. It is very easy for people to get carried away and post too much information about themselves on social networking sites, which leads to identity theft or phishing attacks and assist the growth of cybercrime.