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A survey from Constant Contact found that social media marketing has surged to be a top contender in small businesses’ marketing tool kit; 73 percent of small businesses report using social media to market their business, and this appears to be a growing trend. Of those who are not currently using social media marketing, 62 percent expect to begin using social media marketing in the coming year. Further, 81 percent of those currently using social media marketing expect to increase their efforts this year.

The survey also found that small businesses still rely heavily on email, Website and event marketing, as well as advertising, to drive business. Despite feeling generally positive about 2011 revenues, small businesses reported business and financial challenges, including attracting new customers, getting current customers to refer business and having the cash flow to run their business effectively.

Among social media tools, Facebook is the tool of choice for small businesses: 95 percent of those using social media marketing reported using the tool and 82 percent of those found it to be effective. Of note, in Constant Contact’s October 2010 survey, only 63 percent reported that Facebook was an important tool for marketing their business, and in April 2010, only 51 percent reported the same thing.

Small businesses found varying degrees of success with other social media marketing tools. Forty-seven percent of those using Twitter found it effective, 47 percent of those using LinkedIn found it effective, and 73 percent of those using video sharing tools, like YouTube or Vimeo, found them effective.

"The value proposition that social media marketing offers to small business makes it a no brainer for time- and resource-starved small businesses. They simply need coaching and know-how to use those tools in the best way possible," said Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact. "Our assessment of this data is that more education will only improve small businesses’ results with social media marketing."

Respondents also reported that email is the first — and most frequent — tool that small businesses turn to when trying to connect with current and prospective customers. Eighty-three percent report that email is the first tool they check when going online for their business each day, and 72 percent check their email six or more times a day. In comparison, 13 percent check Facebook, 6 percent check news sites, and 4 percent check Twitter more than six times per day.

For more, read the eWEEK article: Facebook, Twitter Increasingly Popular Among Small Businesses: Survey.