On the face of it, social media continues to set the benchmark for sustained business evolution and growth. With the user base of Facebook alone fast approaching 900 million, and alternative resources such as Twitter and Pinterest continuing to grow at a tremendous rate, there appears to be no end to the medium’s popularity among individuals and businesses alike. An estimated 61.2% of U.S. consumers now also use social media as a tool to both refer and research specific products, with this number set to rise beyond 65% by 2014.
Social Media and Business: A Collision of 2 Worlds
Despite this overwhelming evidence to the contrary, however, there is reason to suspect that social media may be overreaching itself in terms of its versatility among users. The primary reason behind this is the increasingly uncomfortable co-existence of social and professional networking within the same medium, and this has been the source of several controversies over the course of the last year. In addition to an increasing number of clashes between business owners and their staff on Facebook, there has also been the issue of employers seeking to use social media as a way of screening and referencing potential job candidates.
With regards to the latter, we are witnessing a significant blurring of the lines between personal and professional interaction. This is forcing recreational users of social media to develop mistrust of the medium, as they look to evaluate the nature of the information that they post and the way in which they choose to interact with others. Should the appeal of social media as a personal networking tool begin to diminish, then so too will the user base and the size of the audience that businesses are able to engage with.
The Bottom Line: Can Social Media Sustain its Significant Growth
It is clear that while the statistics suggest that social media is on an unprecedented and unwavering upward curve, the broad range of its appeal may ultimately contribute towards its downfall. As long as recreational and professional networking continues to be conducted within the same online space, there is the opportunity for conflict, controversy and ultimately a perceived invasion of user privacy. Unless the 2 can establish themselves as compatible neighbors, social media may well find itself facing an uphill battle in the years ahead.