I, like you, have been at the crossroads of this evolving media for many years. And I think we can see that there is a pattern here.
In 1995 I worked at Time Inc helping to launch people.com, and I was still there when they sold themselves to AOL. That might have been the biggest "snake oil salesman" deal of all time.
I then went to work with..you guessed it.. Razorfish. (Jeff D used to come into the office regularly as I worked in the Soho branch.) Evey company from Ford to Revlon to Martha Stewart wanted a website then, but they didn't know why or how; they just knew they had to have one.
Then 2000 happened, and it looked very dark for a while.
But those of us who stayed in interactive knew that the web would thrive and every company would still need a website and the ROI would materialize..because users/customers would show the way.
I think the same is happening with social media..whether you define it as buzz or measured response. The initial ignorance and avoidance by almost everyone just a few years ago, and now the mass migration to any form of it ...Facebook/Twitter/YouTube. Clients are throwing money at it.
No doubt snake oil salesmen appear because they see an opportunity, but the good news is that their job is to drive the inevitable disillusionment and shake out -- which is probably not that far off. And the boom will lead to a bust in the natural cycle of life.
And then what will remain is the valuable part of social media, the conversation, the transparency, and hopefully the entertainment. We've seen that audience participation can create some wildly effective campaigns and wouldn't it be great if some of that wonderful energy remains a part of what's left once the bubble bursts. And it would be great if companies continue this dialogue with the consumers in order to create better products.
Isn't that what everyone wants in the end?