A research report into how UK businesses are currently using – and plan to use social networking tools has just been released online by SkillSoft, a leading provider of e-learning solutions.

Believed to be one of the first studies of its kind to reveal how far the ideas behind social networking have already infiltrated the business environment, it reveals that a similar number are using these tools to share information as are using it for PR, marketing or brand awareness.

In fact, 83% agreed that this type of collaborative online communication has the power to create unprecedented knowledge bases that could empower individuals, entire industries and even society as a whole.

“The rise of social networking has taken many by surprise and, as yet, there are very few studies as to how it is being used in business. Any company currently devising a social networking policy, either as part of its e-learning policy or to create a tailored knowledge base will find this report of value,” says Kevin Young, SkillSoft managing director and general manager EMEA.

The report shows that:

• 82% believe social networking principles can be more useful in a professional environment than in a business one.
• 80% are already using social networking tools in their personal lives
• 49% are already using social media for professional purposes
• 31% are using social networking tools for PR, marketing and brand awareness
• 31% are using social networking tools to share information internally

The survey was conducted among a sample of the 3,000 learning professionals visiting the Learning Technologies 2010 conference in London.