UK Business Embraces Twitter Aged Five

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Five years after its launch, the microblogging platform is now a firm external enterprise communications fixture

Those technology-minded people not living under a rock these past five years will no doubt have noticed the growing phenomenon that is Twitter.

Celebrating its fifth anniversary today, Monday 21 March 2011, some research carried out by Virgin Media Business has found that one in ten firms are now tweeting regularly.

Growing enterprise popularity

The poll of 5,000 UK businesses found that Twitter was most popular with legal organisations, where 12 percent said they regularly used the network for business purposes.

From a regional perspective, Twitter emerged as the most popular social networking tool for businesses in the North West, Northern Ireland and the North East, where 12 percent of respondents said they used it regularly.

Welsh firms, it seemed, were least likely to use Twitter, with just 7 percent saying that they were currently signed up to the microblogging site.

With 175 million registered users and 95 million tweets written daily, as of September 2010, the platform’s popularity has led to almost as much bad publicity for its corporate and individual users as good.

Victim of own success

For example, last May a user who used Twitter to post a joke about blowing up a snow-bound airport was fined £1,000 for his “menacing” tweet.

Yet, only last week, statistics from Experian Hitwise revealed that the likes of Twitter and Facebook are now more visited than entertainment sites, including porn.

Today’s Virgin Media Business survey found that 35 percent of UK organisations are using social networking sites, including blogs, Facebook, MySpace and even Wikipedia, as well as Twitter, as part of their external communications.

Last month, analyst firm Gartner warned that companies with open social networking policies could find themselves caught out if asked to produce material from social media sites for e-discovery purposes.

And Twitter itself is offering more integration tools to offer tweeting functionality on third-party sites along with a “Twitter for Business” FAQ on its site to help organisations get the most out of the platform.

But Phil Stewart, customer service director at Virgin Media Business said businesses should beware the extra resource and governance required in adding such social networking tools to their external communications arsenal.

“Companies need to take a multichannel approach to customer service if they are to make sure that all customers receive a quick and consistent response, regardless of whether they chose to get in touch by email, instant messaging, social networks, or the good old fashioned telephone,” he stated.

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