Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Did the Recession Help Social Media Grow?

In 2008 the United States began a terrible economic downturn, which eventually was titled a recession. The economic struggles certainly aren't over, but there are signs of improvement.

My question is did the recession speed up the growth of social media and increase the likelihood of corporate adoption of this communication platform?
If we take a look at Google Insight's analysis of the search terms "social media" and "recession" we can see that there is a positive correlation between the growth of conversation for both topics. For those that don't know, Google Insights tracks the volume of searches through Google for a set time period. I analyzed the search terms from 2004 to the present:

As you can see, the amount of searches for "social media" increases as searches for "recession" spike in late 2008 and early 2009. Clearly there can be a number of lurking variables here, but it is a good indicator that the economic issues faced by people and brands helped with the explosion of social media.

Brands had to find cheaper methods of marketing their products, which led them directly to social media. It is a low cost, potentially huge return on investment method of marketing products and services. Not just brands, but people turned to social media. Companies had to downsize and make their hiring practices more stringent. The difficulty people had finding jobs led many of them to create and build social media profiles/landing pages to market their skills and network with as many people as possible.

The widespread purchasing of iPhones, the creation of new social media technology and more have also contributed greatly to the growth of social media. I just don't think it can be ignored that America and the world's economic struggles have sped up the velocity and momentum of social media growth.


Ryan Stephens on September 24, 2009 at 8:39 PM said...

I definitely think there was a definite correlation for most of the reasons you mentioned. Unfortunately, the recession forced people to lose their jobs -- people that because they "knew" social media thought they could turn that into a job and now we have what Armano and others have labeled Snake Oil Salesman.

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Social media often becomes a rat race. Who has the newest technology? Who has the most friends or followers? This blog is designed to slow it down a little and remind people that at its core, social media is about relationships and conversations.

Jake Rosen
Managing Supervisor, Fleishman-Hillard

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