Is the social media bubble about to burst?

I was recently reading about an academic study into social media that concluded what might seem to be rather obvious – that social media is , primarily, a social activity. This study took over 10 years to complete, looking at several different platforms (primarily Facebook) and their users. They analysed a staggering 1.1 million online questionnaires from users asking about more than 1,500 individual brands in 73 fast-moving consumer goods (fmcg) product categories. Someone, somewhere, should be awarding a prize for perseverance!
People who use social media the most are also the least likely to mention or recommend a branded product. So the more frequently someone uses it, the less likely they are to encourage others in their circle to try a product by “word of mouth”. The majority of survey respondents, when asked about their personal brand preferences, said they had none and most branded products scored less than 10% – a poor performance by any measure.
Given that many large companies have invested heavily in social media, have they been wasting their money? Is it the great new mass-marketing tool we were promised or a very niche medium with limited appeal to commercial users? The researchers even go so far as to suggest that, far from promoting brands and building brand loyalty, more frequent and bigger marketing campaigns may actually be doing more harm than good. Heavily promoted brands “invade the virtual personal space” of the user rather than build strong relationships with customers.
Other well respected researchers are also attacking the assumption that social media is a panacea for success and predicting an economic bubble about to burst. Whilst Facebook, Google and others are constantly looking to persuade us to invest more marketing money in their business and increase their own profits, we have to be realists. Are you really building meaningful engagement with your followers or are you merely increasing your database by offering short term promotions? At the very least, it seems that building a strong relationship is difficult to achieve within any online medium, and that users could come to resent intrusions in the same way that TV viewers deliberately record programmes so that they can skip through the interruptions caused by the adverts. Perhaps humans still build connections by talking or meeting each other in person.
Have the courage to stand back from the hype, don’t slavishly follow the trends and ask yourself  (or us) whether social media really is the right medium to promote your product?