Over 6,000 small businesses across the UK are turning to Twitter every day to cut marketing costs and keep in touch, according to a study conducted by O2.

O2 questioned over 500 small businesses and found that nearly two in ten (17 per cent) are using the free social networking site with over one quarter (28 per cent) signing up in the last four weeks. It is estimated that over 700,000 *small businesses are now using Twitter, sending nearly three million messages or “tweets” per day.

Cost cutting was cited as one of the greatest benefits of Twitter by nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of the small businesses questioned. Using Twitter for marketing and to recruit new staff was among the most common ways to reduce overheads, with over one in ten (16 per cent) revealing they had been able to save up to £5,000 since signing up to the service. Nearly a third have saved up to £1,000.

Elevating business profile and communicating with a wide audience for free were also identified as amongst the most common uses of the social networking site. Nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of those questioned revealed they are using Twitter to market and promote their business, whilst nearly half (42 per cent) are Tweeting to stay in touch with customers and suppliers. Over a third (34 per cent) admit to signing up to Twitter to monitor competitor Tweets.

In addition to the financial benefits, small businesses also revealed that the site provides a sense of security in the current climate. Over a quarter (28 per cent) revealed that the ability to keep in touch with other small businesses in real time had boosted business confidence, with one in ten small businesses having up to 100 other fellow Tweeters.

Simon Devonshire, Head of Small Business Marketing at O2 comments: “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”

Despite its relative infancy the use of Twitter among small businesses has already surpassed the appeal of other digital social media. Four in ten small businesses revealed they are using Twitter more than LinkedIn or Facebook with 60 per cent claiming their usage of the social networking site was likely to increase. Only four per cent indicated they would be cutting back on the amount they used the service. Despite three times more businesses having a blog, nearly seven out of ten (68 per cent) of those questioned admitted to using Twitter more regularly.

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To see what O2 is Twittering about go to: http://www.twitter.com/o2ukofficial

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