Social media engagement is increasingly becoming part of companies’ everyday activities and spreading across department boundaries. Social elements are primarily used in marketing, but are also playing an increasing role in public relations, human resources and customer service. Communication behaviour is rapidly changing with the “shift to mobile”, continuous usage of social networks and messaging apps as well as increasing visualization and video usage, thus making it impossible to ignore the development.

Germany is behind the wave when it comes to social media

Whereas 85 percent of the Chinese are active in social networks, German internet users are rather restrained in this regard. When it comes to internet usage as a whole, they are well within the mid-range in Europe, but they are trailing far behind even in worldwide comparisons in the use of social networks.

This is the result of research carried out by the American Pew Research Center which included 40 countries. Only half of the internet users in Germany were interested in Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Especially the older generation in Germany abstains from social media. However, 81 percent of young people between the ages of 18 and 34 do use social networks and thus measure up in the global comparison. Starting at the age of 35, the value then drops significantly to 39 percent.

In the United States, for example, 71 percent of internet users are active in the social web. The world leader is Jordan at 90 percent followed by Indonesia and the Philippines. But the basic rule of thumb still holds true that the more advanced a country is and the higher the income and education levels are, the more people have smartphones and thus access to the internet and social media offerings.

Social media as part of daily marketing business

Due to the continued growth in the number of users, more and more companies are investing in their own social media offerings. They are seeking to directly and easily communicate with their customers, develop online services, strengthen their own brand and even help boost sales. The behaviour of target groups can also be observed more precisely in the social web and comments or postings directly reflect customer wishes and expectations.

Opening accounts on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook is easy and free of charge. But then the actual often underestimated work begins. Viable strategies and clear concepts are needed, which define measures, content, target group dialogue, monitoring, integration with the company’s other digital offerings and processes. But above all, sufficient resources are required for implementation in day-to-day business. An ongoing expansion of know-how is also necessitated by the dynamic development of technologies and the resulting opportunities.

Although many companies have channels on the social web, a large number of them appear to be test projects or no longer maintained investment ruins. Nevertheless, thus number of successful, professionally managed engagements on the social web are on the rise. In certain markets, connection to the social web has become an essential part of day-to-day marketing and online communication.

But social media offerings are no longer self-perpetuating, since platform operators like Facebook a have tweaked their platforms to slow the viral spread of content. It is therefore no surprise that advertising is increasingly being used in social media. Facebook alone has recorded an increase of 165 million users in the last 12 months and at the same time increased its advertising revenues to over $17 billion worldwide.

The advertising options provided by Google, like AdWords, or YouTube are also steadily generating more revenue, which now amounts to around $50 billion. Due to the simplicity and targeted scalability of the offerings “starting at just 5 euro per day”, an increasing number of SMEs are even placing ads using these tools.

Polls are therefore predicting a progressive shift of budget towards online activities. Only trade fairs and events continue to maintain their level of importance in marketing budgets, as also described in our article Digital Transformation in trade fair marketing

Social media activities particularly related to trade fairs and events are gaining ground, as our interview on social media in the exhibition environment clearly illustrates.

For more information about social media also read the articles Why is social media and search engine advertising interesting for small and medium-sized companies? and 10 Tips for the successful use of social media for trade fairs and events.