I find twitter very useful for sharing information (both banal and useful) with others. It’s a great way of communicating with like-minded people and I like its immediacy, e.g. if I’m reading an article that I think some of my followers would be interested in, I can post it straight away. I notice that a lot of people use it when they are at conferences, to tell others what is going on, and you can get a sense of the buzz around certain conferences and topics from it. If you follow the conference hashtag you could also identify people from their tweets that you might be interested in talking to, and set up a meeting there and then.
In my opinion, the banal chat is still worthwhile, as it helps you to build up a more personal picture of people and to get to know them better. After all, we usually prefer to do business with people we like!
I’m still not convinced by Facebook from a life sciences business perspective, though it’s great for consumer marketing. I’m looking into how we can use it more effectively at SIE, where our target audience is entrepreneurial students. I thought it would be good for two way communication, which is how I use it socially, but I’m not sure it is as good as it ought to be. For instance, it is really hard to find the pages you are a fan of from your home Facebook page!