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Enterprise Applications for Social Networking

The Social Networking application market was relatively small in 2006, coming in at $46.8 million, according to a new market study by IDC.

By 2009, however, this market will grow to $428.3 million creating a new application segment and establishing social networking as a new communications tool used for many purposes other than consumer socializing.

"Social networking is the new must-have communication application and is being used for both marketing and operational efficiency," said Rachel Happe, research manager for the Digital Business Economy at IDC. "Social networking applications drive engagements, information exposure, and conversions as well as reducing marketing and operational costs."

There are three social networking segments emerging, IDC's research indicates.

These include: self-service applications used by groups and marketing campaign teams; brand applications that focus on persistent customer engagement; and enterprise applications that provide more effective ways of working with customers, partners, and other external parties.

IDC believes the social networking application market will grow rapidly over the next three years and then level-off as the majority of large companies likely to deploy social networking eventually invest in a major deployment.

I share IDC's upside view of social networking within the enterprise space. In particular, the basic platform capabilities are well suited to sales channel development applications that go beyond traditional Extranet implementations. I believe market development that's driven by active community engagement, and interactive dialogue, will become the new benchmark.

Multimedia content will also become a key ingredient. This belief is evident in my topic overview entitled "21st Century Marketing Communications" which is available from my GeoActive Group USA website.

Other key findings from IDC's study include the following:

- The social networking applications market will grow quickly over the next three years and continue to grow, but at a slower pace, after 2011.

- Social networking application vendors will continue to emerge over the next two years, particularly those focused on vertical applications.

- As the market develops, social networking functionality will be built into core communication platforms like email and instant messaging (IM) applications and the market, particularly the enterprise segment, will consolidate.

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