A new report has revealed that social media have the edge over directories when it comes to the ways in which small businesses in the UK try to attract new customers.

The report, based on a survey by technical services organisation, BaseKit, identifies popular social media site, Facebook, as being used by more than a third of small businesses to promote their products and services. This contrasts with the 27% who were found to use local area directories such as those provided by Yellow Pages and Thomson.

The increasingly high profile social media network, Twitter, meanwhile, was also revealed as making ground on more conventional advertising and marketing channels.

The survey found that Twitter is used as a marketing tool by over 16% of small businesses surveyed; a figure coming close to the 21% of small businesses using print media and the 20% which use conventional web advertising.

Commenting on these findings, BaseKit’s Simon Best pointed to sound economic reasons behind the move to social media:

“Small businesses are shifting their marketing to lower-cost media like Facebook and Twitter and away from legacy media like the directories.”

In other findings, the survey revealed that 75% of small businesses which have their own website regard having this site as crucial both to increasing their potential customer base and maintaining their industry profile.

The survey’s authors also point to other figures, however, showing that of the approximate 1.1 million small businesses in the UK, 66.000 – more than 50% of the total – still do not have any online presence whatsoever.