Increasing numbers of business owners are migrating to social pastures as they seek new ways of marketing their goods.

Lots of businesses are using social media but when it comes to measuring ROI, it’s all a little hazy.

Past reports would suggest that few businesses are enjoying higher conversion rates as a direct result of social media efforts, or even measuring ROI at all for that.

However, a survey conducted by the US business owner network, MerchantCircle suggests quite the opposite.

The Merchant Confidence Index (MCI) samples over 8,000 business owners from across the US in order to gauge merchant confidence by analysing future expectations, the economy and changes to marketing budgets.

The survey suggests that social media is not only an increasingly popular marketing tool, but it’s also beginning to generate financial gains. Particularly Facebook.

70% of the respondents said that they used Facebook, making it the most popular online marketing tool, beating Google, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Not only is Facebook popular, it also seems to be working.

When asked their ‘top three most effective marketing or advertising methods’, a social networking profile was deemed to be the second most effective by the respondents, beaten only by search engine marketing.

Finally it it would seem that business owners are understanding how to use Facebook.

2011 looks to be the year that people finally start to take social media seriously from an ROI point of view. To engage and listen is essential, but sooner or later, there needs to be some evidence of social media paying it’s way.