Social Media Inspires People To Give More
Studies reveal that social media made a significant impact on the dynamics of gifting, especially online gift-giving.
According to a study headed by a researcher from Cornell University, online gift-giving is spreading in social networks and causing people to give more gifts either online and in person.
This interesting discovery was confirmed by René Kizilcec, an assistant of information science from Cornell University assistant professor of information science.
Kizilcec said, “Gift-giving is a fundamental part of human relationships, and technology is changing how it occurs: Social networking sites create greater awareness for gift-worthy occasions like birthdays, and gifts can be given last minute and over long distances. Digital traces of online gift exchanges are lifting the veil off these acts of generosity and inspire people to give more.”
The paper, “Social Influence and Reciprocity in Online Gift Giving,” was co-authored by Dean Eckles of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Eytan Bakshy and Moira Burke of Facebook.
Why Gift Exchanges Spread Fast in Social Media
Based on the study and analysis of online gift-giving behavior on Facebook among U.S. adults during 2013, the researchers found that when a person received a gift on Facebook for their birthday, they were then 56 percent more likely to also give an online gift through Facebook. This meant that approximately a third of all gifts given on Facebook after people’s birthdays were inspired by receiving a gift in the first place.
“We found substantial evidence of social influence driving gift-giving behavior,” said Kizilcec. “This boost in online gifts was not just the result of substitution away from offline gifts; but rather, it appears that receiving online gifts inspires people to give more gifts overall.”
Aside from that, most of the online gifts were reciprocal. This means those who just received gifts tend to be inspired to give as well, either online or offline.
Kizilcec explained: “It initially appeared as if online gifting was spreading on Facebook by paying forward acts of kindness. Upon closer inspection, it became clear that there is a broader network of gift exchanges, and these acts of reciprocity seamlessly transcend the online and offline worlds.”
Age was another factor in online gift-giving on Facebook. “While millennials gave fewer gifts on Facebook than non-millennials in absolute terms, millennials were easily influenced to give online gifts after receiving one. On average, millennials were twice as likely to give gifts on Facebook after receiving one,” Kizilcec said. “Nevertheless, people between the ages of 45 and 64 still had the highest levels of Facebook giving, partly because they gave gifts to both their peers and younger generations.”
Online gift-giving became a popular trend because it allows people to express their feelings in a more creative manner. There are also elements of peer pressure.
The availability of online gifting options made it easier for people to express their emotions in a tangible way. Social media platforms made it possible to send digital gifts and cards to loved ones with just a few clicks. This alone encouraged people to give more frequently, as they can now easily send gifts to their loved ones no matter where they are in the world. Online gifting has also made it possible to celebrate events and occasions in a more meaningful way, as people can now send gifts that are more personal and customized to the recipient’s tastes and preferences.
Social media gives people more opportunities to share their gifts with their friends and family members. They often post pictures and videos of the gifts they received, which makes gifting more visible and creates a culture of sharing and giving.
Online gifting is now a more social activity, encouraging more people to participate. Overall, social media had a significant impact on the way people give, making it easier and more personalized.
Three recent studies support the idea that social media encourages people to give more with online gifting:
- A study published in the Journal of Marketing Communications in 2020 found that social media has a positive impact on the intention to give online gifts. The study concluded that social media platforms increase the visibility and accessibility of online gifting options, making it more convenient for people to give gifts to their loved ones.
- A report by Deloitte in 2021 found that social media has transformed the gifting experience by allowing people to personalize their gifts and share them with others. The report highlighted that social media has made gifting a more social and participatory activity, with more people engaging in online gifting and sharing their experiences on social media platforms.
- A survey conducted by the National Retail Federation in 2021 found that social media plays a significant role in the gifting process, with more than half of consumers using social media to get gift ideas and recommendations. The survey also found that social media influences the type of gifts people give, with more people opting for personalized and unique gifts.
These studies provide evidence that social media has had a positive impact on online gift-giving, encouraging people to give more frequently and in a more personalized and social way.