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How to use Twitter to build up your trade

Can social media really help small firms win clients? A Kent-based building consultancy is proving Twitter can open doors.

“We’ve been in the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, the Sunday Post, Construction News, and The Guardian,” says Geoff Wilkinson, Managing Director of Wilkinson Construction Consultants.

“The Guardian piece led to a feature in their paper looking at our cash flow.” All the opportunities originated with comments on Twitter.

“We avoid automated tweets,” he says. “We focus on issues. For example, we commented on fire doors and linked to an article we’d written on the subject. This was picked up by the Architects’ Journal. If there’s a building collapse or fire or terrorist attack, we start a discussion. It showcases what we know. And being a small firm means you can react quickly. You don’t need to get a message approved by marketing or the board.”

Geoff’s Twitter following has led to television appearances. “I’ve been on the BBC’s Holiday Hit Squad as an expert on balcony safety, and last year on Channel 4 Dispatches as an expert talking about the housing crisis.”

And recently, following a Twitter exchange, Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis profiled the company on his website.

You don’t need to be large to be effective. Wilkinson Construction Consultants employs 11 staff, including Geoff ’s wife and two daughters, and boasts 1,467 followers for @ApprovedInsp – more than enough to get traction.

“We have won high-profile contracts on Oxford Street and with blue-chip clients, and I believe our reputation as market leaders built through Twitter and the media has played a significant role,” says Geoff .

“And it takes no time. I tweet on the train, or in the evening when Mrs W is watching EastEnders.” The cost, of course, is nothing.