In 2010 social networking continued it's phenonemal growth as one of the most popular applications of the internet. A study by the Nielsen Media Research on user activities in social networks shows that the worldwide average usage of social networks came to more than six hours per person per month. Compared with 2009, this is an increase of more than 100% of time spent online.
For example, the five biggest social networking sites in Germany (Facebook, Stayfriends, wer-kennt-wen, studiVZ, meinVZ) registered more than 32.75 Million new users in 2010. According to a study by SID/FIT, social networks are increasingly used for doing business rather than just private communications. 75% of German companies are already using this channel for marketing and sales purposes, with Facebook, Xing and Twitter being the most popular platforms. Forward-thinking organisations are now taking the next step and using similar technologies to create, expand and benefit from their own community networks.
Dirk Schlenzig, CEO of the SITEFORUM group explains: "The demand for a complex solution, moving from a traditionally simple online presence to an interactive social business community, has increased dramatically. Companies like McDonalds, HR.com and Bucks New University trust our solutions to realise the maximum benefits of their own social community platforms. Internal business communication is significantly improved and customer-connectivity is optimised."
Virtual Events are also attracting more interest from companies and are set to become an important element of the social business mix in the coming year. "Virtual Events let you run exhibitions, conferences or presentations with minimum effort. A high degree of interaction with visitors can easily be reached with little financial, logistic and organizational expense", explains the social media expert.
This shift is set to become one of the most discussed topics in Social Media in 2011. A study from the Market Media Research group predicts that sales in Virtual Events in the US alone will increase to $18.6 billion by 2015, with Europe set to follow suit.
A fundamental challenge exists for companies already: How exactly can you evaluate the marketing success achieved solely through social media channels? This question is likely to dominate discussions about the field in 2011.
Dirk sums up by adding "The year 2010 has shown the growing importance of social media for companies - all signs show an additional increase of its significance in 2011. In the next year every company should integrate social media components in to its business strategy to obtain success in the market in 2011"