In recent weeks we’ve seen a lot of information analyzing how small businesses are using Twitter and Facebook, sometimes with conflicting results. For example, while some studies suggest that just 10 percent of small businesses are using Twitter, others are reporting that 60 percent are finding Twitter effective for marketing and customer engagement.

Well, brace yourselves, as this new study from SocialStrategy1 and OfficeArrow is going to make those waters even murkier, as it suggests that while 88 percent of small business owners believe that platforms such as Twitter and Facebook do or will impact their bottom line, a full two-thirds (67 percent) won’t be making additional investments in their social media marketing in 2012.

The study polled 343 executives from companies with fewer than 10 employees, and found that Facebook (61 percent) and LinkedIn (48 percent) beat Twitter (37 percent, which is almost four times the number shown by previous polls) and Google+ (14 percent) as the social networks of choice for small firms, with brand awareness (49 percent) and lead generation (33 percent) being the main reasons why these tools were being used.

However, many small business reported being overwhelmed by social media, with typical frustrations including having too many different social networking sites to manage, information overload, not wanting to share everything, no way to manage negative commentary and staff shortages preventing them from realizing the full potential of these platforms.

The study also suggested what might be an easy (and obvious) way for many business owners to resolve these issues, as only 4 percent of them stated that they used social media management tools to monitor their online presence. No wonder that other 96 percent are struggling to see the upside.

(Source: SocialStrategy1. Top image credit: williammpark via Shutterstock.)