Increased traffic (72 percent) and improved search rankings (62 percent) were also top on the list. Improved sales was last on the list of seven benefits, with 43 percent of those surveyed enjoying success—but it was the self-employed and small business owners with two or more employees who were most likely to report that social media helped them close new business. The self-employed and small businesses also were most likely to find business partnerships through social media, with at least 59 percent reporting that benefit.

Wondering if you can (or should) hire someone to do this sort of marketing for you? Just 28 percent of businesses are outsourcing some portion of their social media marketing, says the survey.

Where, exactly, are efforts being spent? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs were the top four social media tools. Facebook overtook Twitter to take the top spot in the study this year (in 2010 it was Twitter). But some three-quarters (77 percent) of marketers plan to increase their use of YouTube and video marketing this year - a virtual gold rush.

Get the full story at Inc.com magazine