663 per cent growth in people using Twitter to search for business recommendations

It’s often wrongly assumed that Twitter comes into its own when people discuss what they have for lunch or tweet about the X-Factor, and over the past two years there has been a 663% increase in people using Twitter to ask for business recommendations around common professional services such as legal, financial and technical.

In the current economic climate, small businesses need to ensure they are making the most of every customer opportunity, and with 80 per cent of Twitter users in the UK accessing their accounts from their smartphones at all times of day, UK small businesses cannot afford to ignore Twitter.

Top of the list and most in-demand are Web Designers whose popularity may be skewed by the fact likeminded and tech savvy individuals are more likely to be on Twitter. However, second on the list are solicitors who may not be aware of the fees they could be missing out on by not engaging with the public and other businesses via Twitter.

The top five of professional services searched for on Twitter are:
1. Web Designer
2. Solicitor
3. Accountant
4. Architect
5. Copywriter

Mike Tomlinson, small business marketing director at Orange Business, commented: “It is clear from this research that you can’t just rely on posting adverts in the classifieds. Today, Twitter represents a compelling word of mouth engine that can deliver significant business opportunities to small businesses across a wide variety of sectors. The proliferation of smartphones means that small businesses never have to miss a Twitter opportunity as they can interact with potential customers from anywhere. If professionals do not engage with people on Twitter they risk losing out.”

In conjunction with the research, Orange Business has issued its top five tips for professionals looking to use Twitter to grow their businesses:

1. Mobilise your Twitter account: Being able to access Twitter wherever you are makes it easier to respond to work requests in a timely manner and allows you to make the most of any ‘dead time’ to see if people are shopping for your services.
2. Be prepared to offer advice: Professionals need to showcase their expertise and accessibility over Twitter. It’s not about giving away free counsel but showing you know what you’re talking about and sharing information which might spread far and wide. Your words of wisdom will reach far more potential customers than your silence.
3. Be quick: Twitter is all about the now. If you don’t offer your services to somebody looking, your competitors will.
4. Reach out to communities of tweeters: The more networks you are engaged in and the more people you follow and engage with, the fewer degrees of separation there will be between you and potential business leads.
5. Demonstrate ‘real-world’ credentials – Make sure you can easily link from your Twitter profile to a website that showcases your location, qualifications and credentials. Show what you can on your profile.

Mike Tomlinson concluded: “With the current economic conditions being what they are, it is critical for small businesses to utilise whatever technology they can to win new business. And with 10 million people in the UK on Twitter, what business can afford to ignore that many potential customers? By accessing Twitter whenever and wherever they can professionals can keep a closer eye on any requests for services and respond before the competition does, keeping them an important step ahead in rough economic times.”