Social media marketing can be a powerful tool to help any business grow their sales, increase brand exposure and build relationships with their customers. Yet, so many businesses see little to no success when it comes to social media.

What many businesses don’t realize is that just opening up a Facebook account and posting random links on your page once a week won’t help your business grow. Social media should be incorporated into your other marketing strategies, customer relations, PR and day-to-day operations. So to help you get started here are the top 5 mistakes businesses make when going social and how you can avoid them.

1. Not knowing why you want to be on social media in the first place!

Many businesses aren’t sure why they need to be on social media. They’ve heard that they should be on social media so they create a Facebook and Twitter account and check the “We do social media box. This strategy is not going to bring you any results. First, you need to figure out why you want to be on social media.

  • Do you want to build better relationships with your customers?
  • Are you expanding your business into new areas?
  • Do you need to increase sales?

Take a step back and think about what business objectives and goals you want social media to help you achieve and how you can measure the results. Understanding what you want to achieve will help you identify the right platform and the strategy you should use for that platform.

2. Not knowing who your target audience is!

It’s surprising how many businesses when asked, “Who is your ideal client?” still respond by saying “Everybody!” It is important to understand whom you are trying to reach on social media because different people hang out on different platforms. If you are trying to reach CEOs and executives, LinkedIn may be a good platform for you; whereas, if mothers are your target audience, Pinterest and Instagram may be better platforms for you.

If you aren’t sure where your clients hang out, ask them! When they come into your business, or at the bottom of your newsletter, ask them if they are on social media and which platforms they prefer.

3. What are you going to talk about?

People go on social media to get away from their busy day to be entertained, to engage with friends and family, and to be inspired. So you want to create content that they will actually want to consume. Avoid making every post a “Buy my stuff” post. Instead, focus on creating content that Educates, Empowers, Entertains, and Engages your audience. For example, if you are a realtor, instead of every post saying “New Listing” with a link to your listing, try to tell more of a story.

4. How are they going to find you on social media?

Most businesses are so excited to finally be on social media, but when they look around they don’t have any likes or followers. Just because you build it doesn’t mean that they will come. In my experience, I have seen some companies make it near impossible to find them on social mediathey don’t have links from their website to their social media account and the names on their social media accounts are completely different then their business name. Here are some ideas to help you start to grow your social media presence and ensure your social media accounts aren’t ghost towns:

  • Run contests and sweepstakes
  • Offer exclusive deals to your social media followers only
  • Include your social media icons on your website, email and newsletters
  • Run ads on social media

5. What resources do you have?

So now that you have this amazing social media strategy together, your posting daily and engaging with your followers, who is going to maintain it? What I see many businesses do in the first month when they are excited about social media is post all the easy content. Then, when they need to get back to work, the social media starts to slip. Next thing you know, they are linking all of their social media accounts together, sharing the same post and not seeing any results. To help you avoid running into these pitfalls here are some guidelines to help you:

  • Don’t create 15 different social media channels unless you have a strong team. Focus on one or two primary social media accounts with all other accounts being secondary accounts.
  • Identify who is going to be responsible for the social media accounts and if you don’t have someone in house that can manage it look at hiring someone part time to assist you.
  • Do you have a budget? Set aside a small budget to create content for campaigns, contests, and ads.

Just like anything else you do in business, your social media should have a strategy behind it. Taking a few minutes now and again to review your social media strategy and how you can improve what you are doing online will help ensure that your efforts see great results.