No one knows what it’s like to be a small business owner better than the owners of small businesses themselves, and in our recent Attitudes and Outlook survey, you shared plenty of insights about what marketing tools are working for you, and how you feel about the general economic climate.

For example, you told us social media marketing is now one of the most popular ways for you to connect with existing customers and to reach new ones. Almost three-quarters of you — 73% to be exact — reported using social media to market their businesses, and this appears to be a growing trend. However, there has been no decline in the use of other marketing tools. In fact, social media is increasingly used in tandem with other marketing tactics. The survey found that 91% of small businesses use email marketing, 95% use website marketing, 77% use print advertising, 69% use online advertising, and 53% use event marketing.

Of those doing social media marketing, 80% reported increasing their use in the past year. Among the specific sites, 95% of those using social media marketing reported using Facebook and 82% of those found it to be effective. Forty-seven percent of those using Twitter found it effective, 47% of those using LinkedIn found it effective, and 73% of those using video sharing tools, like YouTube or Vimeo, found them effective.

You also told us that email is the first — and most frequent — tool you turn to when trying to connect with current and prospective customers. Eighty-three percent of survey-takers reported that email is the first tool they check when going online for their business each day and 72% said they check their email six or more times a day. In comparison, 13% check Facebook, 6% check news sites, and 4% check Twitter more than six times per day.

Economic Outlook Positive, but Challenges Persist

In addition to what you told us about the tools you use, you weighed in on your general economic outlook. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they saw an increase in revenues in 2010 and another 24% reported flat revenues for the year. Further, respondents appear confident that an economic recovery is here, with more than 80% reporting expectations that revenues will increase in 2011.

Small businesses also have business challenges. Eighty percent of small businesses reported that attracting new customers “kept them up at night.” More than half of respondents (52%) also cited getting current customers to refer new business as a top challenge. Forty-one percent said making marketing dollars go further was similarly challenging.

Our survey was administered during March and April 2011 to small business owners and their employees. Results include responses from 1,572 organizations across a range of business-to-business and business-to-consumer industries. Of note: 87% of these organizations have 25 or less employees. Click here to learn more about the survey and to see other key results.

How do you feel about these results? Do you agree with the findings? Share your thoughts in the comments below.