The primary goal for businesses and brands using social media is to raise awareness and generate exposure. It’s a fact backed up in the Social Media Marketing Report 2011 published last week by the Social Media Examiner.

Fewer than half of businesses using social media see it as a means to generate sales leads, a finding consistent in both surveys. This means that social media is seen as important for public relations, and less so for sales and marketing.

Driving website traffic and improving SEO were the second and third most popular goals for employing social media. Seeking new business partnerships was also cited as an important goal.

The least popular goal for social media use is to save on marketing expenses.

According the SME study it’s clear that marketers understand that social media marketing takes a lot of time. The majority of survey respondents (58%) said they are using social media for six hours or more each week, and more than a third (34%) invest 11 or more hours weekly. This underlines the view that social media marketing is cheap only if there is no value placed on time.