There is tons of advice online about what is best practice when it comes to social media and how to effectively use it to further your business, and a lot of it is absolute nonsense. Indeed, some of it is so bad, it will actually do more harm than good.

Social media is an important aspect of any business’s online presence. Twitter alone has 187 million active monthly users and 300 million users overall, so it would make sense to want to get in on that action.

Online networking can be a great way to connect with current and future clients and can help spread the word about what it is you do and why everyone needs to be taking note, but it is something that needs to be approached carefully with consideration and a plan.

Don’t get tripped up, below are seven pieces of the worst social media advice you can get.

  1. You need to join every network

Not every network is the right network for your company. Do your research. If your target audience does not populate a certain network, then don’t waste your time on it.

For instance if you are an engineering firm, Facebook is probably not the right platform for you to target the kind of audience you are after. You would be better off looking at LinkedIn which is excellent for connecting with both clients and colleagues as well as industry leaders and decision makers. It is also a great tool for helping to generate new leads and has a wealth of fantastic groups that specialise in and encourage industry discussions and innovation.

Decicions, decisions: With so many social platforms to choice from, it can make things tricky

A lot of companies have limited time and resources so if you spend time on something that is basically not going to yield anything positive it is a drain and should be avoided.

Wondering where to start? Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for a lot of companies are good networks to start out with, though they still might not be the right ones for you. The key thing is to do your research and find out which social media networks your target groups populate.

  1. Auto-publish your posts to all your social media accounts at once

As tempting as this is due to the time saving element, please avoid doing it. For one thing, a lot of people who follow you will most likely be following you on all of your networking channels and for them, seeing the exact same message over and over again just looks lazy.

And for another thing, each channel needs to be treated differently. For instance, on Facebook picture posts do a lot better than straight link shares, with LinkedIn you have more space to write an introduction to entice users to click your link and on Twitter a more direct and succinct approach is better (due to the 140 character tweet limit). Your @[Twitter handle] is fine on Twitter, but will more than likely look sloppy on Google+.

You need to customise each of your updates to make sure that you are getting the most out of what you post.

  1. Focus on one account

While you shouldn’t spread yourself thinly across all of the networks out there, it is just as bad to concentrate on just one account. To do so would mean that you could be losing out on a huge audience that you have not tapped into yet. Not everyone who uses Twitter is on Facebook or LinkedIn and vice-versa. It is all about balance.

  1. Your target audience is not on social media so don’t bother with it

The Pew Research Centre did a study in 2014 that found that 74% of online adults use social networking sites. That is a phenomenally huge statistic and you can bet that some of the audience that you want to attract are part of it. It is also a great place to find influencers and people who want to seek you out as an expert within your industry.

  1. Don’t get personal

Get personal! You may be tweeting from your business account, but you should see this as an opportunity to show people your more personal side (and by that, I don’t mean long ranty posts about your mail going missing). Personality and informal responses is one of the things that gets people and companies noticed.

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All about…: Social media should mean just that, social. Don’t be afraid to show yourself

People are not going to fall in love and share your content if it is solely dry and business-like. If you infuse it with your personality it will show a side to your business that people can really connect to, and that after all is what social media is all about.

  1. Send automatic direct messages welcoming new followers

You may think this is courteous and a nice way to start a relationship with a new follower, but in actual fact most people see these automated messages as spam. People know they are automated, so they know that you have not specifically singled them out of the crowd and it is incredibly impersonal and just generally bad online etiquette.

  1. Use lots of hashtags on all your posts

This is not a good idea as it will dilute your message and it looks #messy and #desperate. You are more likely to get good interaction and to be noticed with one or two relevant hashtags then with a ton cluttering your tweet or other media posts.

And there we go. Take it from me, these mistakes will lead to a drain on your time and lack of engagement. But remember, while most of us have fallen into at least one or two of these social media traps (who hasn’t added yet another hashtag to the end of a tweet to see if anyone bites?), it is never too late to turn things around.

Time and research are your friends. Find out where your target audience reside, and concentrate your efforts on those platforms. Tailor your posts to connect with them and don’t be afraid to show a more personal side to your business. By following these simple rules you will build a robust network of followers who will not only look to you for your expertise, but they will also help to spread the word about you and your brand.

To find out how Future Content can help your business grow online, contact us today. And, erm, follow us on all the social media too.

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Susie is a writer, reader, gamer and really big nerd. When she is not squeezing in late night zombie kills via her PS3, she can be found writing for various sites such as metro.co.uk and nerdlikeyou.com.