Building your brand to pull your shop out of the clutter of the Yellow Pages seems key in such a tight economy.

Although it takes lots of sweat equity (and by sweat, I mean time spent staring at a computer screen), building a brand through social networking doesn’t actually cost a penny in capital. Use tools such as Twitter and Facebook, which are free, and e-newsletters (which can cost money, but are a lot less than the paper variety) to keep your company at the forefront of customers' minds.

But don’t just log in to constantly push products, or you’ll quickly find your messages falling on deaf ears. For an ISWonline story I’m working on for next week, I talked to a custom furniture-maker who sends former customers bimonthly e-mails packed with tips, information and even a recipe for chicken cordon bleu casserole.

His philosophy is that customers hate salespeople, and he thinks people would rather be approached with entertaining pictures and stories. This keeps his brand in customers' minds when they’re thinking about commissioning a project and maintains the company’s professional authority on the subject matter by offering educational content.

So give those following you in cyberspace a reason to look at your pages and updates. Show them the cool projects you're working on, and give tips about picking out finely crafted furniture. Or if you have customers interested in DIY woodworking projects, let them know about a finishing technique you've perfected over the years.

These are just some general tips for your social networking brand-building philosophy, but to get down and dirty (including instructions for complete social networking “newbies,”) I've included some links below.

I'll be digging around for some good links for next week to give you some quick tips on building brand loyalty through Facebook, blogging and e-newsletters!

My Favorite Twitter Links:

A Newbies Guide to Twitter

Everyday there's a news piece on Twitter, but what is it, and how can it help your marketing efforts? The story above will give you a quick introduction.

20 Twitter Tips to Make You a Better Twitter User

Good basic advice, from making sure to upload a photo to personally thanking those who sign up to follow you.

Twittin' Secrets: The 100 World's Greatest Twitter Tips & Twitter Secrets

More tips and tricks than you probably ever wanted/needed to know.

Twitalyzer

Our Web analytics guy showed me this; after you've been tweeting for a few weeks, use this tool for a quick measure of your performance.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.