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.