By Claire West

Underneath all the hype about Twitter, evidence is emerging that it can
bring genuine value when used in the business environment, particularly for
the younger generation. Business-to-business industry researcher AIIM found that 27% of 18-30 year-olds agree that Twitter is an important
rapid-feedback tool for business use, compared to only 7% of those over 45.
Users feel it gives them unprecedented access to answers from experts, and
they find it useful for running mini polls, sharing opinions during
conferences and events, and making contacts whilst travelling. In total,
34% of the survey population has a Twitter account.

The survey also found that business users of Twitter are much more engaged than personal users, with half of the business users actively contributing and posting, rather than merely following. As regards following, 55% of users feel it has given them a useful insight into other professional's
lives and businesses. However, even among committed users, there is a
concern that Twitter might steal too much of their time, with 74% using it
during working hours.

“We’ve been tracking the rapid growth of Enterprise 2.0 - the business
use of social media - for a couple of years,”
comments Atle Skjekkeland,
VP of AIIM, “but Twitter has grown much faster than anything we’ve seen before. It seems to me that Twitter brings back such quick answers from any expert community that it cannot fail to have a lasting place within the general business toolbox.”

The AIIM survey, which polled 788 respondents, indicates that LinkedIn is
twice as popular as Facebook for business networking, with over 50% of
participants having an account. Two thirds feel that professional
networking on the web is vital to their career progression — even more so
in the current difficult times. Pressure is growing on IT departments to
replicate social networking tools within the work environment, with a third
expecting to use the same type of networking tools with their business
colleagues as they do with friends and family, and 71% finding it easier to
locate knowledge on the web than it is to find it on internal systems.