Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are the cutting edge of the Internet frontier, but many business people still haven’t harnessed the full potential of this new medium. These folks have had their view of social networks distorted by the legions of social network participants who tirelessly catalog every waking moment via Facebook posts and Tweets.

Fortunately, there’s a lot more to social networks than, “what I had for breakfast today “and, “here’s another picture of my kids.”

Savvy business owners can use social networks to build long lasting relationships with their customer base and drive new revenue. It’s not easy and it definitely won’t happen overnight. But if you’re willing to put in the elbow grease you’ll find that social networks (especially LinkedIn) are incredibly effective marketing tools.

Here’s everything you need to know about promoting your professional practice on social media.

Have a Plan

When you’re on a social network like Facebook for personal reasons, feel free to just post whatever pops into your head. Free form posting is not, however, something you want to do when you’re building a social presence for your business.

It’s highly recommended that you approach your professional social media plan with a few weeks, – or even a few months – worth of content ideas. This allows you to have a steady stream of postings that help keep your readers interested in what you’re doing.

This doesn’t mean you can’t freestyle it every once in a while, because you should. One of the really nice things about social networks is that they allow for off-the-cuff comments in a way that other mediums simply don’t.

Nonetheless, when you’re operating off of a social content calendar, you’ll always have a good foundation for your social efforts.

Know Your Networks

From the outside, most social networks look alike, but upon closer inspection you’ll see that each one has its own distinct personality and demographic profile. If you approach all of the big social networks the same way, you’ll very quickly find out that what plays well on Twitter, might not be such a good fit for more professional networks, like LinkedIn.

Social networks cater to different demographics in the same way that businesses cater to different demographics. Many businesses are surprised to find that lower profile networks (here comes LinkedIn again) that don’t reach the mass audience Facebook does, actually reach a more desirable demographic of professional users.

Social networks for personal injury attorneys are likely different from the ones for financial planners.


Social networks provide an amazing pipeline to vast swaths of potential customers that might otherwise be unreachable. The key to success in this arena is going in with a plan, and maintaining your composure no matter what the Web throws at you.

Remember, social interactions are what make social networks tick. On the other hand, you have to remember that your professional social presence is very different from how you handle your own personal social presence. So keep your cool, go in with a plan, and you’ll quickly be reaping the benefits of the social media explosion.

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Mark Laurent is a social media consultant. He helps professionals to develop viable social media plans to expand their reach.