Smaller firms demonstrate more social networking nous

Top FTSE100 executives are failing to grasp social networking services such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, while Sunday Times Fast Track 100 firms such as On Holiday Group are leading the way as early adopters, according to new research.

According to digital agency Bigmouthmedia, 25% of FTSE100 senior executives use social networking to promote their business, compared to 85% of the executives recently named in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100.

LinkedIn emerged as the senior executives networking tool of choice. Half of those surveyed use the service, while 80% of FTSE100 managers who engage in social networking use it as their only application.

Lyndsay Menzies, Bigmouthmedia's chief operations officer, said: "Social networking may have become one of the most talked about trends in the online world, but until now there has been little hard evidence showing to what extent the business community has embraced these tools.

"Our research shows that while many leading executives are now deriving measurable benefits from this rapidly developing channel, some of the UK's most prominent organisations have failed to get to grips with this important trend."

The survey named Carnival Cruises' senior director John Heald and On Holiday Group chief executive Steve Endacott as the two business leaders currently trading in Britain who have most readily adopted social networking.

Heald emerged as the clear winner in the FTSE100 category after it was found he uses a combination of Facebook and blogging to reach out to customers.

On Holiday Group chief executive and founder Steve Endacott was found to be the most active social networker in the Fast Track category.

The former MyTravel chief employs a range of tools including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo and Xing to promote his travel company.

Endacott said: "I believe that these are tools every business has to get to grips with.

"There's a generation of consumers growing up with social media, and unless you truly understand the culture there's a real danger of losing touch with them."

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