When done right, social media can be a powerful way to connect with customers and communicate branded messaging. Luckily, some of the most common barriers to amplifying social messages and boosting engagement are simple to avoid. Mastering a few basics can give your efforts the best chance to succeed and capitalize on what these platforms can offer.

Incomplete profiles. Don’t overlook your ‘About us’ pages. These sections are a great place to tell your story, provide essential contact information, and link back to your company’s website. As more information is included in these sections, it is easier for customers to find the exact business they are seeking. Furthermore, connecting a business website with its corresponding social media pages helps identify official accounts.

One-way communication. Social media is about conversations. While traditional marketing tactics (billboards and paper advertisements), force brands to talk at consumers, social networks give you the chance to talk with them. Engaging with customers fosters relationships, brand loyalty and a positive reputation. Brands that dedicate time to responding to customers find the greatest success.

Spamming with sales pitches. Social channels require carefully crafted messages -- not direct sales pitches. Posting a barrage of product links that scream “buy now” are often viewed as spam which will discourage followers and limit potential reach. It is important to note that sending spam is a violation of many networks' Terms of Service and as such there is a risk of account termination if posts are repeatedly flagged as spam.

Being robotic, not human. Brands that use social media successfully add a human touch to their marketing strategy. A channel that seems on ‘auto pilot’ can make brands look detached and unauthentic. Avoid tools that automate activities like following and responding to users. These tools are not only counterproductive, but some of them may also violate the network’s Terms of Service. That being said, scheduling tools can be quite helpful to save time and reach the largest potential audience. Whenever publishing is scheduled, it is essential to be available to respond when fans and followers engage with your content.

Inconsistent branding. Posts should mirror the business and its goals. Staying on-topic and publishing relevant content will cultivate an audience of brand advocates. Consistent branding also pertains to the look and feel of social profiles compared to the company’s website and marketing material. By coordinating graphics, colors, and slogans, a social media presence will exude professionalism.

Social media will continue to evolve with users’ expectations, changing as new capabilities are added. Regularly review your efforts to understand what’s working and ensure they are within best practices. Businesses that keep pace with social technology advancements will be better prepared to meet shifting expectations and remain successful. Understanding these mistakes is the first step to avoiding them. 

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