Technical paper. The social media industry is coming of age and currently has five major trends – from communities to their own departments, to social CRM.

Social media has refashioned the way companies use the Internet. The image of the sending company and the receiving consumer has changed. So, the companies have adapted and went where the customer is. Social media is now a requisite part of many companies – mostly in the area of internal communication, marketing or public relations.

Social Media Trends

Some attempts to exploit the complete budding of social media go beyond open innovation and crowdsourcing. Against the background of these developments, trends in social media are emerging.

Social Web is Growing Steadily

The Internet is new territory for all of us. Previously only a young target group could be reached online, the figure of older users continues to increase. Social media was thus not a temporary phenomenon but anchored more and more in everyday life. Due to the ever more active users, the social web is becoming increasingly interesting for more business sectors, such as marketing, sales, and purchasing.

Growing Social Media and Social Service Departments

The dialogue between users and companies is increasingly coming to the fore in the social web and becoming the decisive channel. The classic channels of e-mail and telephone are becoming steadily unpopular with the younger target group. Social media shape the everyday life of 14- to 39-year-olds, and so they are also used for establishing contact and communication with companies. Users now expect more than just an online presence – companies must actively respond to customer questions and concerns. However, they do not necessarily use the channels offered to them, for example, the company’s own Facebook page, but select the ones closest to them.

This also entails larger social media and social service departments in the companies. Customer service on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube is being intensified

Much More Big Companies Start Communities

Michael Buck, a social media expert for the social media excellence Circle, said “Social Media is coming home” a year ago and already showed the trend here.

Users want more than pure product information online: they connect with the brands and identify with them. In order to draw consumers closer to themselves, many companies establish their own communities and blogs. The dependency on platforms, like Instagram which most companies use free Instagram likes to improve sales. Also, Twitter and Facebook and their restrictive design options can thus be circumvented.

Thus, valuable customer relationships are built up, and the sovereignty over the user data is regained. Also, companies can act more easily and adapt to their needs, and better coordinate and overlap collaboration across different departments.

First Acts and Projects for Social CRM

As in classic CRM, the focus of Social CRM is on customer dialogue, but the data collected also offers completely new opportunities in the areas of marketing, public relations, sales, customer care, and product development. For example, users reveal a lot of information online about buying behavior, brand knowledge and leisure activities, which provide important insights for the companies. For the optimal social CRM process, the monitoring initially filters all relevant data and indexes it. Depending on the responsibility, these can then be sorted and prepared, or the dialogue with the customer is sought directly. Monitoring, interaction, and analysis are thus integral parts of social CRM.

Cautiously, companies try to put their customers’ identities together with identities in the social web. After all, the profiling of individual users is the most important step in the task of turning anonymous users into tangible customers. Take the following example: a man raised in England in ’48, married a second time, enjoys winter holidays in the Alps and likes dogs.

Although the profiles are accurate than they would be in most databases, they are not differentiable. However, if the Facebook profiles are added, both are clearly distinguishable. The different social environment, different fans, different interests, and other likes extend the profile and make a one-to-one communication possible.

The challenge for the companies lies in the merging of the data. So customers don’t act on all platforms with the same name or alias.

Professionalization: The Time of Experiments is Over

In most companies, social media and often their own social media department has found a home. Businesses are increasingly being aware of the needs and desires of their customers, and customers are also getting closer to the companies and gaining deeper insights into the business. They become more authentic and more tangible and can offer real added value.