A new report has revealed the extent to which small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are embracing social media in their marketing campaigns – seemingly at the expense of longstanding digital advertising tools such as email marketing and paid search.

Borrell Associates surveyed over 4,000 SMBs, and discovered that over 60 percent of these companies have a presence on social media sites. Facebook is the most popular platform, favoured by 60.7 percent of SMBs, ahead of blogs (44.2 percent), Twitter (44.1 percent), YouTube (36.4 percent) and LinkedIn (36.3 percent).

The report noted that social media marketing accounted for 13.7 percent of all advertising spend amongst SMBs last year, ahead of business directory listings (12.0 percent), and closing in rapidly on paid search (15.1 percent) and even email marketing (17.4 percent).

Borrell estimates that approximately $6.2 billion was spent on social media marketing in 2011, and that Facebook soaked up about 65 percent of that total ($4 billion). SMBs made up about $1.14 billion of the total spend.

Borrell also tracked how SMBs measure success in social media, with 57.1 percent ranking new customers as the most important metric, ahead of additional fans, friends or followers (45.6 percent) and increased visits to their social profiles (44.2 percent).

As for the depth of these communities, the study revealed that the average SMB has a social network size of over 4,000 friends and followers. Borrell noted, however, that this number might be a little misleading.

“This statistic is skewed by a few respondents who claim tens of thousands or more. Perhaps a better gauge is the median reported: about 250 followers,” said Borrell.

(Source: Borrell Associates. Hat tip: Search Engine Land. Top image credit: Digital Genetics via Shutterstock.)