According to a new study by WhitePaperSource , social networks are becoming a high-priority tool for marketers. The study, which questioned some 900 marketers, reports that 88 percent are using social media, such as Facebook and Twitter , to market their businesses. The study also indicates that this is a new trend, given that almost two thirds of respondents said they’d only been using social network channels for a couple of months.

Michael A. Stelzner, founder of the consulting company, says most marketers who use Facebook and Twitter create or link to content and gather followers exposed to their brand and businesses. The upside is that it’s free. The downside is that it’s time-consuming. 64 percent are using social media for five hours or more every week, and 39 percent use it for 10 or more hours.

And yet respondents didn’t seem to have much of a sense for how effective their efforts are proving. “They don’t know how to measure how successful they are,” says Stelzner. “But [they] are just realizing that they are getting response, often a lot more than before, using social media.” From what they can tell of their results, about 80 percent claimed they’d generated exposure for their business while 61 percent said they’d improved traffic and growing lists. But generating business is a different matter: only 35 percent said they’d managed do to that using social media.

The study is entitled