The social CRM market has been earmarked as a growth hotspot by Gartner, with global sales set to hit more than $800m (£492m) this year.
According to the market watcher, social CRM sales will grow from $625m to $820m this year despite remaining less than five per cent of the total CRM application market.
More than 100 vendors have social CRM offerings, although most are not profitable and generate annual sales of less than $1m. Consumers account for more than 90 per cent of social CRM spending, but business use is growing faster and will account for a 30 per cent slice by 2015, the market watcher said.
Vendors in this space often base their offering on one of four starting points, Gartner said: hosting and supporting a branded or private-label community, and providing the surrounding functions; monitoring, listening to, surveying and responding to private-label or independent social networks; facilitating the sharing of B2B or business-to-consumer contacts through communities; and establishing community product reviews largely to facilitate online sales.
Adam Sarner, research director at Gartner, said: "Vendors who can assemble a full set of social CRM functions, and make progress in two or more of these areas, will be best positioned for market success as the market matures.
"Over time, vendors will find it harder to gain an advantage by providing unique core functions for social CRM."
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