By Claire West

Small to medium businesses in the UK are increasingly using social media for business purposes, according to a research by unified communications company Mitel. A recent survey showed that 82% of Mitel's channel partners used social media for business purposes, with 62% of those surveyed using LinkedIn and 45% using Twitter.

In terms of business advantage, over half of the businesses surveyed felt that social media interaction increases companies’ brand awareness, and almost a third highlighted the cost effective nature of the medium.

The Mitel survey also looked into which social media sites workers used for personal leisure, and LinkedIn came out on top again in this respect - with 72% of respondents using it. LinkedIn has traditionally been recognised as a business tool, and Mitel argues that its popularity for personal use could suggest that personal lives are increasingly intertwining with business.

Andy Elliot, marketing director at Mitel said: “The world is changing and we are increasingly seeing the lines blur between personal and business communications. People need the flexibility to merge their communications tools from business to personal use and vice versa".

Ricky Nicol, CEO at data communication company Commsworld, said: "Our social media channels include Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and You Tube and although still relatively new we have found the response to be very positive. It gives our customers flexibility on the ways they like to communicate with us and allows us to build trust, awareness and open up discussions with new prospects.”