A study released from The MerchantCircle blog has revealed that Facebook is the most popular marketing channel amongst local business owners.

The sixth survey to come from the company was fielded online between April 30 and June 6, 2011 and reached out to US based local business owners, exclusively.

Perhaps the most interesting information to be taken from the survey was that when asked about the adoption of specific online marketing services, the most popular answer was the creation of a profile on a social network, with 40.9% of respondents deeming it more affective than other marketing channels:

Of all the channels, Facebook was deemed to be the most popular with 65.7% of respondents claiming to be using the site to market their business. Interestingly, Google – although in second place – only had an uptake of 53%, 12%  less than Facebook. Twitter and YouTube are also in Facebook’s shadow, with an uptake of 32% and 18%, respectively.

The survey revealed that those partaking in Facebook marketing are using more than just the page feature to market their business. As shown in the graph below, of the 22% of respondents who have used Facebook Ads, 64.9% of those would use it again. The main reasons for doing so were ease of use, the ability to pause ads and the targeting ability of ads.

The main reason given by those who said they wouldn’t use the service again was the fact they didn’t acquire any new customers – a common problem for many using social media. Other reasons include the expense and low CTR.

When asked “What is your annual ad/marketing budget”, the majority of the respondents (40%) answered less than $1,000 and a further 21% answered $1,000 – $2,500. Looking at these budgets goes some way to explaining the uptake in social media amongst SMEs, as social marketing is in a sense, free.

Social media offers some amazing opportunities for businesses to tap in to their local markets, but very few are maximising these opportunities.

The following post is slightly out-dated now but a great example of how a small business uses free social media tools to increase sales, enjoy – www.simplyzesty.com/social-media/small-business-social-media-brilliantly-budget/.