NEW YORK: Nearly 90% of US marketers are now using social media platforms as part of their overall communications mix, with Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn and Facebook the most widely-employed tools.

While increasing numbers of advertisers are using social media platforms, it has been argued that the complicated nature of this emerging market means it is hard to measure how effective this has been.

Researcher and author Michael Stelzner drew on a survey of 880 marketers on behalf of the Social Media Success Summit 2009, and found that 88% of respondents are using social media channels to try and connect with consumers.

Some 86% of participants used Twitter, compared with 79% utilising blogs, 78% that were active on LinkedIn, and 77% with a presence on Facebook.

Outside of this group, YouTube was employed by 41% of marketers, with "social bookmarking sites" and forums also favoured by 38% of respondents.

Some 64% of those surveyed spent five hours a week pursuing social media initiatives, with 39% doing so for at least ten hours, and 9.6% for 20 hours, over the same period.

Participants in the latter two categories typically had a longer period of involvement with interactive media, measuring in years for the last of the three segments.

Twitter was used by 94% of marketers in this group, which also more frequently featured online video in their campaigns, while small businesses and those new to social media typically opted for LinkedIn.

Just over 80% of the survey sample argued that using social media had resulted in increased exposure for their companies, with a similar number stating it had improved their search engine rankings.

Furthermore, around a third of participants suggested that these platforms had helped them finalise business deals, a total rising to 61.6% among marketers who had been involved with the medium in the long term.

Data sourced from Marketing Charts; additional content by WARC staff