I earlier wrote about how businesses could take advantage of a recession  by swooping in to grab up some marketshare from more fearful businesses who might choose to cut back advertising and expansion during an uncertain period. Now Forrester Research and Shop.org have released some survey results  indicating that many online merchants are seeing growth while brick-and-mortar businesses are experiencing reduced sales.
The one cautionary note a Forrester analyst added to the release was that many retailers are apparently planning to advertise more in social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, even though it’s “still unproven how such sites might build direct revenue for retailers” (paraphrased).
I’d note that many of us in internet marketing have identified fairly significant promotional potential in social media sites, and that some degrees of integration with them are possible in many cases without incurring advertising costs — so, it may be that judicious campaigns should still be attempted, even if there is not a lot of research evidence indicating good ROI. Just as with any promotional campaigns, it’s important to try to measure results as you go, and adjust as indicated.