Social media is a powerful tool. When used correctly, it can grow your business exponentially, attract new customers, accrue customer loyalty and trust, and solve customer service issues before they become real problems. However, if used in the wrong way, it can easily cost you goodwill and prospective customers – as well as cause some PR issues. So how do you make sure you are keeping on the straight and narrow of social media? By learning what NOT to do, from the commonly made social media mistakes!

1. Not having a social media policy in place

As long as you have team members on company social media or with publicly linked social media accounts, you need to have company policies in place regarding appropriate behavior. Creating guidelines of proper etiquette for both at work and after-hours gives employees an idea of possible missteps, and gives you something to fall back on if there are any issues.

2. Approaching all platforms the same

Not all social media is created equal. Similarly, not all content will translate across the various platforms. Each site has their own type of content, language, and audience, and you have to be fluent in each in order to find and connect with your ideal users.

Take some time before you launch on any site to explore and research what works best. When you finally begin, do not make the mistake of posting the same content across your social media’s; that feels fake, more like an ad than an interaction. Instead, tailor each site’s message to resonate with the platform and audience.

3. Not prioritizing your bio

This is the first thing customers see when they find you online. Maximize your bio’s effectiveness by including your company location, website, and a short description.

4. Focusing on the number of followers

In the social media game, it is quality of followers that matters – not quantity. More followes does not necessarily translate into more sales. Instead of zeroing in on follower acquisition, focus on listening to and interacting with the followers you have, building brand loyalty and creating brand advocates. Use them as a sounding board to figure out what tone and types of posts resonate best with your audience. As you perfect your social media skills, your audience will naturally find you.

5. Not using social media to be social

It is right there in the name! Social media is meant to be an interaction between you and your followers, and it can go bad quickly if you use it simply as a megaphone. Do not blare out brand announcements; instead, dedicate a team member to monitor channels, foster engagement and conversations, and generally react to followers as a human.

6. No newsjacking!

Resist the urge to use a major world event or trending news as background for a post. At best, your company looks insensitive or ignorant, and at worst, the backlash can harm your company’s reputation.

7. Excessive or inappropriate posts

No one wants to see constant posts and updates, from person or company. If you blast notices too frequently, you are going to end up with a lot of people hitting the “unfollow” button. Determine what hours your followers are most active, and try to focus your activity around those times – more like several times a day, than several times an hour.

Monitor feedback and engagement to make sure you are continuing to connect with your audience, and posting what they want to read! This keeps your content company-appropriate. If your audience is a serious professional crowd, you will probably find that cute gifs, while fun, are not the type of subject matter in which they are interested.

8. Infrequent posting

If you do not put out the welcome mat, no one is going to come visiting. This is the same idea: if you do not have the time to post regularly, you are not going to gain followers or have meaningful interactions with customers. If you cannot commit to 5-7 days a week of monitoring and posting, you might as well not bother.

9. Reacting to, ignoring, or deleting negative posts

Responding in any of these ways will only make things worse. The most important thing you can do is acknowledge their message, even if you have not done anything wrong, and ask them to send you an email to work out the issue. Stay cool, and act professionally.

10. Not checking for customer posts relating to your company

Customers are posting about you, whether you realize it or not. If you have a Facebook page or Twitter, they expect that someone is paying attention to their kudos and complaints. If you do not respond, they assume you do not care.

11. Lagging response time

Similarly, if there is a post or a complaint on one of your channels, respond as quickly as possible. The longer you wait to respond, the greater the chance a small issue could turn into an online bashing of your company – a PR nightmare!

To help prevent this, set clear hours you have staff online and addressing consumer complaints, and quickly facilitate all customer service assistance.

12. Lacking a human voice

When people reach out on social media, they are looking to interact with a person – not a machine. Reflect this by humanizing your support staff. Encourage them to have a personality during chats, crack innocent jokes, and introduce them on a website page. Ensure the staff also knows the guidelines for company social media, and understand they are representing the brand.

13. #Too #many #hashtags

Jumping on various hashtag bandwagons will not serve your brand. Instead of piggybacking on a trend or keyword, focus on deepening your interaction with followers. You will find that tactic pays off in the long term.

14. Direct messaging new followers

Although the purpose of signing up to social media is to get to know your customers better, do not start sending direct messages [DMs] to everyone that follows you. Automated messages will put people off, and seem a little weird and desperate. Instead, polish your skills and continue to grow and perfect your various channels; the interactions will naturally happen.

15. Forgetting a call-to-action

Give your followers something to do from your posts! Include links to your blog, website, or a resource – something that is measurable. Also, do not forget about tagging relevant users – people love getting mentioned, and this can be a big social media relationship-builder. Hashtags and keywords make your posts more searchable, but do not go overboard.