So, here's the big one, does spending on social media really pay back? A fresh MBA graduate from MIT, Niki Gomez, passing through London and We Are Social on her way to Mumbai, gives her views.

At last, a study quantifies what many of us felt must be true, that social media does translate into increased sales. As Violette mentioned last week, a study by Wetpaint and Charlene Li's Altimeter Group shows an extremely strong correlation between engaging in different social media and earning higher revenues. The study looks at the engagement of top 100 brands from the 2008 BusinessWeek/Interbrand Best Global Brands report and ranks them from 1 to 127, based on how they use social media channels. It finds that the top brands with their rankings in brackets are:

  1. Starbucks (127)
  2. Dell (123)
  3. eBay (115)
  4. Google (105)
  5. Microsoft (103)
  6. Thomson Reuters (101)
  7. Nike (100)
  8. Amazon (88)
  9. SAP (86)
  10. Tie - Yahoo!/Intel (85)

The most engaged brands experienced revenue growth in 2008 of 18% whilst the least engaged brands experienced losses of negative 6% over the same period.

Also interesting is that only arguably half of these are internet companies. The study categorizes the brands, a la Malcolm Gladwell, into mavens, those heavily engaging in 7 or more channels, such as Starbucks and Dell; butterflies, such as American Express and Hyundai who engage with seven channels but with less engagement; selectives who engage in six or less but do some on a deep level such as H&M and Philips; wallflowers like BP and McDonalds who engage with six or less but with a light touch. My question was whether social media pays off because of lower marketing spend, as there is a shift from spending on more traditional channels. However it seems, revenues, actual sales are up on previous years, even boom times!

Their findings conclude that it is not how many social media channels you use, but how deep that engagement is: so being social pays, but it’s the quality rather than quantity of these conversations that seems to triumph yet again. So, please think before you tweet... a good piece of advice for brands and individuals alike.