Using social media to promote your services Social media is a great way to interact with your customer base online and encourage debate and trust in your brand. Spread the word of new products and services within seconds using instant social media updates. Reserving your business name Before you can put your social media plans into action take the time to reserve your business name with the major social media networks. Once you have your business name in the bag e.g. twitter.com/businessname you should brand it consistently with the rest of your site to ensure that consumers know when they have reached your social community. Create marketing goals One of the biggest mistakes businesses make in social media marketing is to dabble without having a direct strategic goal. Social media is one of the most powerful tools to market your brand online and therefore it should be taken seriously with a detailed marketing plan of action. Always ensure that you have a clear understanding of the targets you wish to hit. This will shape the direction and tone you take when spreading your message across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and any other social media communities. Avoid marketing aggressively Many businesses make the mistake of marketing their brand too aggressively in an effort to interact with people and build a following too quickly. When a brand message is enforced too strongly it can often push consumers away from the product. As a result, consider building lines of communication with other contacts within your industry and potential clients without forcing your message too heavily onto them. Share your ideas Never be afraid to share ideas with your social media community. If you are looking to pick up new clients then it is important to look proactive and imaginative by showing off projects or sharing insightful links that help to build authority in your niche. Always make an effort to interact with your social media community on a consistent basis. Social media is a marketing tool that can be easily neglected. It is recommended that you prioritise social networking into your marketing strategy with time to post several times a week. Integrating social media into a blog Many businesses simultaneously run a blog alongside their corporate website as this provides numerous opportunities to cross-sell products to blog readers. Integrate your social media profiles with your blog and display recent tweets, Facebook fan page posts and encourage social media voting. This all helps to engage consumers and build trust in your brand. In the same way your social media marketing needs a purpose, a blog also needs a consistent message. Are you planning on using a blog to attract potential clients or to build industry contacts? The purpose of your blog ultimately determines the social media content you publish. In the long term social media can build you a strong e-profile and increase exposure in your chosen industry. If you find more work and enhance your contacts book it is certainly worth the time invested.