Will an economic recovery pummel social media?


I’ve had the great privilege of teaching a college-sponsored class on social media marketing and as usual, I’m learning more from the class than what they’ve learned from me … but that will be our little secret, OK?

As I was providing examples of how you can leverage content across various channels to increase awareness, I had to admit that I didn’t practice this very well myself.  Why?  I just don’t have the time.

My marketing consulting practice has been very strong, and as I strive for an ideal work-life balance, something has to give.  Time spent on incremental efforts like Facebook and Twitter has to take a back seat to family and customer needs.

This may seem like heresy from somebody who lives and breathes marketing, but I think this will be reality for more and more people.  As the economy heats up, unemployed, or under-employed, individuals spending vast amounts of time on the social web and networking will have to make new choices as they return to work.

Here’s my hypothesis:  The growth of social media will slow as the economy improves.  And in areas where the economy is doing extremely well, social media usage may actually decline slightly.

Other possible implications:

  • As people return to work, the prime activity level on social media will be more heavily-weighted to the evening hours, since many companies restrict social media usage in the workplace.
  • The number of channels in which people participate will narrow. This may hasten the decline of some platforms like MySpace.
  • There may even be a slight shift in advertising budgets BACK to traditional media (drive-time radio?) since access to Internet-based impressions will be limited in a workplace.  How do you see a Facebook ad when you’re working a construction job?

I believe that use of the social web will still grow overall as people and companies find clever new ways to make the underlying technologies more useful and fun. But I think it is unavoidable that an improving economy will temper this growth.  The best environment for social media growth is when people have a lot of time on their hands and a shift is in our future.  Do you agree?

Note:  In addition to some wonderful comments below, you can find a nice counterpoint perspective on Gregg Morris’s related blog post: http://bit.ly/3tQtiW

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