BT has launched an online service that helps small businesses use social media tools like blogs and podcasts in their company marketing.

BT Tradespace is pitched as taking “a giant leap forward in digital marketing”, encouraging users to “join a fast-growing community of buyers and sellers in your specific business area”.

Business owners can garner some of the staples of Web 2.0-style internet offerings – comments, reviews and ratings – to build customer-facing reputation.

Currently in beta, the new site is halfway between a Yellow Pages-style listings service and a rudimentary MySpace network, claiming to take care of SEO as well as the finer points of social media marketing.

BT’s Ian Croxford said:

“Rather than static marketing copy, we’re trying to get them into using it as a conversational marketing tool.
We’ll see a lot of people put up one post and that’s it, but we have a woman blogging furniture in Manchester who does it weekly.”

While it is still quite spartan, there does appear to be a gap in the market for small businesses who have heard the hype about marketing by blog and podcast but who are clueless about where to start.