Social media revenue to hit $10bn in 2011, says Gartner
Worldwide revenues from social media sites such as Facebook are on track to reach $10bn this year.
That is up 41% from 2010, according to technology research firm Gartner.
These figures are set to explode in the next few years, projected to grow by 50% next year and nearly triple to $29bn by 2015.
Advertising revenue is the largest contributor to this overall figure, with social gaming bringing in another significant revenue stream.
Room for growth
Analysts believe this is only the beginning in terms of making money from social media.
Neha Gupta, senior research analyst at Gartner, said: "From a revenue perspective, the social media market is still in its early stages, even though it has a large number of users who, in some cases, are exhibiting increasingly mature usage patterns."
She said new business models would need to be built to tap into this revenue, where a transition would take place from clicking on an ad to "ongoing engagement" with online users.
Ms Gupta said that social networking sites, with the help of social analytics firms, were able to "unlock" data - "mapping lists of friends, their comments and messages, photos and all their social connections, contact information and associated media".
However, other analysts point out that wider use of this data raises concerns about privacy, with some users angry about the ways in which their online behaviour may be tracked.