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It was probably late 2010 when businesses suddenly realized the potential power of social media, for promoting their services and products, for engaging with prospective customers and clients and for building brand awareness.

There was an explosion of company Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, even YouTube Channels. And although they weren’t wrong, social media is a powerful tool, it’s still in its infancy as an online technology and similarly our understanding of it is still growing.  There are some things you should not do when using social media.  So, what shouldn’t you do?

Spam Promoting

Your milkshake may bring all the boys to the yard but you don’t need to ram it down our throats. Companies that only update their Facebook or Twitter feeds with new products aren’t just boring they’re extremely annoying and this is what will be associated with their brand.

No one wants to read repetitive updates like. “Buy XYZ now!” Or “Check out new XYZ on our site!” This type of update is a great way to lose fans and followers so limit yourself to two or three promotions a day, max.

Don’t Constantly Ask For Retweets, Likes or Shares

Now and then is fine, even more so if it’s a worthy cause. You often see obscure charities successfully requesting retweets from celebrities on Twitter. But if you’re simply promoting a for-profit product or service then you’ll struggle to entice the same reaction. Occasionally requesting a retweet or like is absolutely acceptable, but you should research the clients you’re aiming it at.

Social media is about engaging with people, and participating in discussion and debate, so talk to your clients, answer their questions and even better, ask them questions, too. You’ll understand your customer base a lot better and they may share your great content without you even asking them.

Don’t Post Willy Nilly

This is a tough one, updating social media platforms for a business is a nuanced practice  You want to strike a healthy balance between relaxed, natural updates and professional, informative ones. Too much of the latter and you’ll come across as stuffy, rigid and unapproachable. Too much of the former and you’re unprofessional, lacking in business acumen and useful information.

You want to put the ‘pro’ in approachable. How do you do this? Practice makes perfect, as does a well written, thorough style guide. The sort you’d get when contributing to a magazine, newspaper or blog. It may seem excessive, but your social media activities should be taken as seriously as any other part of your business.

Don’t Update All the Time

Do your research and find out when your target market is most online, it may be Monday morning or Friday afternoon, or even over the weekend in which case you’ll have to adjust your strategy. In the same vein, don’t tweet or update Facebook for the sake of it. Sure, keep your social media efforts regular but don’t write when you haven’t got anything to say. Save it for winning content, exciting news and for replying to your customer base.

Don’t Create Multiple profiles

This is really important for your return on investment as well as effective time management. Choose two (three at a stretch) different social media platforms and create one company profile for each of those platforms. One major mistake most companies made when jumping on the social media bandwagon was to sign up to too many networks and spread themselves too thinly, diluting their message and overall effectiveness of their efforts. A better tactic is to be streamlined and focused, channel your energies and the rewards will be evident.

2013 is a very exciting time for technology and social media heralds a great way we connect with the brands we love. Now the brands just have to figure out the best way to connect with customers.

Original Author: Zac Colbert has worked in social media and search marketing for five years, collaborating and consulting with major brands to enhance their online activities across a diverse range of sectors from online dating to health and fitness.