10 signs social media peaked; 9 reasons to be glad hype is passed

Social Media Growth in 2012
Social networks exhibited mixed results last year after years of significant growth. It was bound to happen.
Maybe, if you’re in social media, this is a concern but here are 10 signs social media peaked. 9 reasons to be glad the “Hype Cycle” has passed.

  • SOCIAL NETWORK USAGE: 24% say they use their favorite social media site less than when they first signed up (Source: Gartner)
  • FACEBOOK: Visits were +10% in the 12 months ending in October versus +56% a year earlier (source: The New York Times)
  • FACEBOOK AND TWITTER: In another study, Facebook and Twitter grew only +2%; there was no growth in corporate blogs (source: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth)
  • YOU TUBE: Usage by companies has fallen, from 45% in 2011, to 30% in 2012 (Source: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth)
  • PINTEREST: Only 18% of 2012 Inc. 500 companies use Pinterest (Source: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth)
  • DIGITAL SPEND: 60% of marketers expect to increase their digital spend this year by 40% or more; only 10% of that digital spend will go to social media (source: Technorati)
  • SOCIAL MEDIA JOBS: Have declined from about 1.3% of all jobs to 0.7% (Indeed.com)

Social Media Job Growth

  • MEASUREMENT: Only 40% of marketers have confidence in their ability to measure social media campaigns. (source: eMarketer)
  • TRUST: 56% of consumers trust retail web site with their purchasing decisions; 34% trust brand web sites; only 31% trust blogs (source: Technorati)
  • FATIGUE: Gartner reports consumer fatigue from the social media Hype Cycle.


  • GETTING PAST “HYPE CYCLE” MEANS SOCIAL MEDIA IS HERE TO STAY: The “Hype Cycle’ (below) occurs because of “inflated expectations.” Although after that, there is the stage of “disillusionment.” Then, it goes to “enlightenment,” and “productivity.”

Hype Cycle

  • ROI: #1 question 4,000 marketers ask every year is “How to measure Social Media ROI.” Now, we can get down to business (source: Social Media Examiner).
  • LISTEN RATHER THAN “‘LIKE’ US ON FACEBOOK”: With social network growth plateauing, there’s more opportunity in listening to fans and followers than spending all that time saying “‘Like’ Us on Facebook.”
  • ENGAGE MORE OFTEN: If growth is slowing, this frees up time to engage. It will probably produce bigger benefits.
  • MAKE RELATIONSHIPS MATTER: There’ll be more advantages than ever to having conversations, not monologues, with consumers, and building stronger relationships.
  • PRACTICE MARKETING INTEGRATION: Instead of looking at social media as a singular solution, now we  can practice putting social media into the integrated marketing mix. Social media, mobile and traditional media work better when they work together. Here are some case studies to prove it.
  • CREATE RICHER CONSUMER EXPERIENCES: Marketers can spend more time learning about the new technologies in video, mobile, apps and promotions, as well as regular updates and improvements from the social networks themselves, to give consumers a richer social brand experience.
  • STILL GROWING: Although growth appears to be slowing, it’s still growing and faster than many traditional media channels (which are declining).
  • COMING OF AGE: Similar channels like email marketing and digital marketing have gone through the “Hype Cycle” as well and proven their longevity. I expect the same to occur for social media. How about you?

I’m glad we’re through the “Hype Cycle” of social media and ready to focus on benefits like ROI, better engagement, stronger relationships and marketing integration. For a FREE eBook that shows Social Media ROI is not that daunting of a task, download 166 Case Studies Prove Social Media Marketing ROI.
Do these signs prove social media has peaked to you? Is it a relief? Would you like to tell me why?


  1. Mimi Griffith

    Hi, Rob: Thanks for the news! Maybe there’s still hope for professionally reported and edited journalism, which has been crowded out by the self-promoting social media voices. What do you think?
    Cheers, –Mimi

    1. Rob Petersen

      Thank Mini. I think there’s always a need and an audience that wants to hear relevant content. In my opinion, it is a brand’s most relevant asset after the product or service, itself, that they are offering. Hope that answers your questions.

  2. Mari Luangrath

    Thank you for posting this. Super insightful and a definite indication that humans can only handle so much automation/information. Connecting digitally, but in a human way, is going to be the primary way brands can survive the next wave of social media. Well written!

    1. Rob Petersen

      Thanks so much for the reply, Mari. I think the way you put it: “Connecting digitally, but in a human way, is going to be the primary way brands can survive the next wave of social media, is super insightful and well written. Couldn’t have said it better.
      For readers of this post, Mari owns and built a brand called Foiled Cupcakes, largely with the help of social media. In my opinion, they are the best cupcakes on the planet. Just saying.
      I know that may be a little off topic but I hope it also serves as example of “connecting digitally, but in a human way,” and with great admiration. Thanks Mari.

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