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Econsultancy has recently been highlighting the many uses of Twitter, which is a customer service solution, a marketing platform, and a brand monitoring tool.

Now, new research from O2 has found that smaller businesses are quickly adopting this online medium.

Of 500 SMEs surveyed, 17% are actively using Twitter, with over a quarter of these respondents joining within the last week or two. This is great to see, especially given the ongoing economic situation, which (according to the report) has apparently has pushed smaller businesses towards looking for cost-effective marketing, customer service and recruitment channels.

Over a quarter of those surveyed (28%) said that staying touch with similar smaller businesses helped boost their confidence and the research also highlighted that nearly a third of the responding companies estimated they have saved around £1,000, with one in ten claiming to have saved up to £5,000. Perhaps, more importantly, around 40% of respondents say that they are using it more than LinkedIn or Facebook, which is testament to both the simplicity and power of Twitter.

A further data breakdown shows that nearly three quarters of the companies surveyed recognised Twitter’s cost-saving and marketing advantages, 42% saw the medium to be useful as a means of staying in contact with customers and suppliers, and 34% felt they could use it monitor their competitors. Even the Federation of Small Businesses has begun to tweet, which helps to set the current tone of the SME environment.

Simon Devonshire, Head of Small Business Marketing at O2 officially commented:

The way small businesses are using Twitter is a great example of how the community is embracing new technologies in order to adapt and survive in the current economic climate. The increase in small businesses using converged devices such as the iPhone and BlackBerry smartphones combined with the simplicity of Twitter represents a fantastic opportunity for businesses to further raise their profiles and increase efficiency.

Jake Hird

Published 17 March, 2009 by Jake Hird

Jake Hird is Econsultancy Australia's Director of Research and Education. Follow him on Twitter and Google+, connect with him on LinkedIn or see what he's keeping an eye on via diigo

126 more posts from this author

Comments (2)


Carl Roughsedge

Twitter is an excellent marketing tool for small and medium sized businesses but it is important to tweet at least several times a day and to include keywords for your business in your tweets so that the right people will find them. Make your tweets interesting and different so that people will follow you and seek out people with ideas that can help your business and follow them. Using the internet and technology well is for sure an important factor in thriving in the econonic downturn.

over 7 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Good article and another in the trend towards viewing Twitter as a positive communication tool. At e-inbusiness we've long argued that Twitter has a place in marketing but not as a brand tool, more as an engagement mechanism. 

There is no right way to use Twitter. If there was, everyone would be doing the same and it would stagnate into a standardised marketing channel.

Carl gives some good pointers and I'm not surprised SMEs are embracing it. The audience is growing rapidly, just as facebook did, meaning there are more people to attract. The key issue is relevance and you have to carve a niche to offer people content and information that is both interesting and relevant.

There are many Twitter add-ons available to help you. Twitterfall allows you to monitor keywords to identify conversations about your company or subjects that are relevant to you; Twitclicks enables you to track click throughs from links you post and suggest the most likely tweeple who might have clicked; Tweetdeck provides a management console to effectively manage and control activity and separate followers into groups. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

The key for me is to keep this simple. Twitter set out to be simple, and by that i don't mean it is not intelligent. By restricting you to 140 character updates, you have to think carefully about what you are saying. Make sure you have something meaningful to say, then target your updates accordingly.

As Carl says, you have to be regular (not personally, I can't give medical advice!) - if you have a twitter account make sure you update daily. If you leave it alone for even a few days your follower base will decay and the tumble weed sets in. So go out and excite people and explore the potential. After all, Dell managed to sell $1m worth of goods via its Twitter outlet account.

over 7 years ago

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