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Social Media Gifting: How Digital Trends are Transforming Traditional Gift-Giving Practices

E xchanging gifts is an important aspect of human connections that are being transformed by technology, particularly through social media gifting. With the advent of the Internet, people can now engage in last-minute and long-distance gift-giving, as well as observe their friends giving and receiving gifts through online platforms. This evolution underscores the importance of understanding how online gifting proliferates through social media channels. Social live streaming services, increasingly popular among younger demographics, are prime examples of this shift. The gifting behavior of viewers on these platforms is crucial for the success of the business model of these services. So, the pressing question is: what are the effects of social media on gifting? Today, we aim to shed light on this topic. Digital content such as literature, movies, entertainment, and images are experiencing a surge in popularity. End-users are emerging as the primary creators, suppliers, and consumers of these digital artifacts. The proliferation of such digital content, facilitated by online gifting and sharing via social media and online communities, presents a fascinating set of research questions. How significantly does gifting contribute to the current boom in online media sharing?

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Giving gifts has been a long-standing tradition for humanity. Over the years, we have learned how to adapt this practice to fit our culture and society. Recently, the popularity of internet-enabled devices has transformed gift-giving into something significantly different than before. Social media has begun to influence gift-giving, introducing the concept of social media gifting. There are several reasons why online shopping is becoming increasingly popular, from finding and comparing costs of the same goods from other merchants to reading feedback from customers and eliminating the inconveniences of crowds and waits while visiting a real store. Convenience is king for the contemporary consumer, and internet shopping has become a preferred way to buy gifts. The emergence of global networking sites platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter has fundamentally altered how individuals interact with one another. The growth of social media has transformed people's views regarding gift-giving, which is an intriguing part of this. A new study shows that the spread of gifts on social networks, a trend referred to as social media gifting, is causing people to give more gifts both online and in person. Gifts have been exchanged for millennia and they continue to be key in marketing strategies. “The exchange of gifts is an age-old human behavior and it has been co-evolving with technological trends,” said René Kizilcec, assistant professor of information science at Cornell University and lead author of the study. Online gifting is a new trend that strengthens social relationships. Online gift-giving, or gifting, is the act of sending gifts over the Internet to individuals who are not physically present. It may be done through email or instant messaging, but it has also expanded to include social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.


It began with virtual presents in games, virtual greetings, and family tree groups, and now firms like Facebook are experimenting with the gifting of actual physical goods and gift cards, a trend known as social media gifting. The concept is that you may send any 'friend' an actual, delivered-to-her-door, and ribbon-tied present. You won't even need her address, favorite color, or size, and you won't have to give her a generic gift card. Your 'Friend' is alerted that you wish to send her a scarf and must just accept it. Once accepted, she will be able to offer an updated mailing address as well as select the style and color. The ease of use and opportunity for impulsive and time-sensitive giving is appealing. However, there is a far larger tendency to be aware of. Social media is altering the way we find and exchange new experiences, which has an influence on gift-giving. By encouraging users to share videos and photos of their activities and the things they consume, prospective gift ideas are rapidly brought to the attention of people reading through their social media feeds. This can take many forms, ranging from a quirky new restaurant that their friends have dined at to new beauty items that they are experimenting with. This takes us to another important trend sweeping the gift-giving industry. With the assistance of technology, consumers looking for more significant presents have switched their attention to experiential gifts, which are more suited to an individual's specific needs and interests.

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Another research conducted an interview study that carefully compared the concept of online gifting to traditional physical gifting. The findings show that there are significant differences in people's involvement with the digital gifting approach when compared to traditional gifting. According to participant testimonies, digital presents, often referred to as social media gifting, generally require less work, are not always viewed as gifts by the recipient, and are seldom commented on and acknowledged. Social media has evolved into a platform for us to portray our chosen self-image, altering the gift-giving game as well. If someone surprises their lover with a romantic vacation, there is a significant possibility that the occasion will be documented on Facebook or Instagram. These sharing options provide a “social media currency,” which might boost the giver's social position by allowing the photo to represent their charity, or it can very publicly indicate their dedication and loyalty to the connection. The concept of social media gifting extends into the digital gift cards space, where brands have effectively utilized the power of social media to grow their customer and subscriber base. Brands released digital gift cards across their network of physical locations, e-commerce platforms, apps, and institutional organizations. This portfolio was expanded by effective social media programs that attracted social media users. It is critical for companies to analyze their follower base across all social channels. This is made possible through platforms that provide insights and profiles. In today's day and age, companies must secure personal and social connections as well as transactional commitment. While not all interactions are meant to generate sales and foot traffic, organizations must establish statistics to guarantee that such exchanges are recorded. In whichever context you use social media, you have the natural ability to learn a lot about the people you are linked with, including the type and depth of those ties. Even if it's remembering about your 5-year anniversary that is coming up in a few weeks, your sister's birthday is next month, or a coworker has recently been awarded, social media may serve as a reminder and a guide in the gift-giving process.

According to a Facebook research that looked at 1.5 million gift exchanges on Facebook, getting a present makes people 56 percent more likely to give a gift in the future. Additional polls demonstrate that people who learned about online gift-giving from watching friends' participation, rather than non-social encouragement, found it more socially acceptable. Although surveys indicated increased instances of direct reciprocity, when the initial gifting happened offline, most recipients pay the gift forward rather than responding directly online. As a result, social influence encourages the expansion of online gifting, which both complements and replaces traditional gifting. Social media giving provides a venue for tangible gifts to be exchanged in the convenience and vivid color that we have come to expect from media-rich conversations. Social media gifting aspires to be a worldwide gifting platform where actual items may be delivered same-day anywhere on the earth, while also combining a personalized experience and self-expression. These customized images and videos can be shown or played on a self-playing media gift product and can be electronically delivered. A present that you can touch, feel, hear, and even smell, in addition to seeing, has the ability to affect and strengthen the personal bond of a relationship in ways that digital delivery cannot. Technology is clearly affecting the social conventions and behaviors that govern how we discover presents, what we purchase, and how we send them to their receiving party. Given the rate of technological progress, we can be assured that applications and websites will open up many more new pathways in the future years.

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We carefully choose and present gifts to our loved ones during Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and other important occasions. It's something we all do instinctively, and most of us don't consider the ramifications. However, the gift we select and how we deliver it, especially in the era of social media gifting, reveals a lot about us, our connections, and the intricate social systems that exist in our society. Social, psychological, and emotional currents lurk underneath every flawless present. GiftAFeeling assures that you and your family only receive the finest since each present is more than a materialistic item but an emotion wrapped in ribbons.

Navleen Kaur
Psychology Blogger,
The Shared Secrets Lab,
GiftAFeeling Inc.

Read The Official Research Paper On - Social Media Gifting: How Digital Trends are Transforming Traditional Gift-Giving Practices

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is virtual gifting?

Virtual gifting involves sending gifts through digital means, like e-gift cards, online subscriptions, or digital content. It's convenient, eco-friendly, and ideal for long-distance sharing. Virtual gifts can range from streaming service memberships to online course enrollments, offering a thoughtful way to celebrate occasions and connect in the digital age.

2. How do I give a digital gift?

To give a digital gift, choose an online service or product relevant to the recipient's interests. Purchase it through the provider's website, and you'll typically receive a digital code or a gift link. Then, send this digital token to the recipient via email or a messaging app with a personal message.

3. How to gift people online?

To gift people online, select a digital item like an e-gift card, subscription service, or e-book. Purchase it on the relevant website and obtain a digital code or link. Email or message this to the recipient with a heartfelt note. Online stores often offer direct 'send as a gift' options too.

4. What does gift mean in social media?

In social media, a 'gift' often refers to virtual tokens or items that users can send to content creators as a show of support and appreciation. These gifts, ranging from simple emojis to digital currencies, symbolize gratitude and engagement, fostering a sense of community and connection between the audience and creators.

5. Can you send someone a virtual gift?

Yes, you can send someone a virtual gift. Options include e-gift cards, online course enrollments, digital books, subscription services, or even virtual game items. These gifts are purchased online and sent via email or a direct link, providing a convenient and thoughtful way to show appreciation or celebrate occasions remotely.