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Social media marketing drives sales, a new study says. According to the study by Wetpaint and the Altimeter Group, “companies find correlation between brands’ social media efforts and financial performance.”

The challenge is that this study looked at the 100 most valuable brands in America.  Great.  What about the other thousands of brands that we all know and love that don’t have the money or power of Google, Microsoft and Starbuck’s…all which fared well in this gauge?

First, the study confirms that deep social media engagement with consumers through online channels correlates to better financial performance. The ENGAGEMENTdb study (www.engagementdb.com) showed significant positive financial results for the companies who measured as having the greatest breadth and depth of social media engagement.

In short: social media marketing delivers measurable ROI.

These “Social Media Mavens” on average grew company revenues by 18 percent over the last 12 months, while the least engaged companies saw revenues sink 6 percent on average over the same time period.

The good news is that it’s true that better engagement with your prospects will drive sales, and online on social media marketing will work wonders. But the real danger with this study is that many marketers will look at it this and say to social media marketing agencies like CBC: I want that! Now!

It’s like a couch potato looking at Men’s Fitness and not realizing the amount of time, dedication and hard work it takes to get AND maintain a model-perfect body.

So if this study serves as inspiration to get going on social media marketing, I’m all for it.  But a word of caution: online and social media marketing requires a great plan, a full commitment and a new mindset for marketers.  It’s not about a Facebook page or Twitter feed, which are merely parts of your infrastructure. It’s about creating content in all its forms that is valuable, entertaining and, most importantly, not available anywhere else.  Then bringing all your resources to bear to promote and maintain this communication platform.

Watch this space for a new eBook: The 7 Deadly Sins (and 7 Golden Rules) of Social Media Marketing. It should be ready in the next week or two.