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Entrepreneurs come from a wide variety of business backgrounds, but must oversee every area of their businesses, whether or not they have practice and experience in a particular function. That means a lot of learning on the job.

Mastering any one area is difficult enough, but it become near impossible when the function in question is a relatively new one with a role and purpose in a constant state of flux: social media.

Whether you’re an Instagram ingénue or a Pinterest pro, it’s always good to keep up-to-date with the best social media practices to grow your brand presence online. After all, Canadians visit an average of 80 sites and spend an average of 36.3 hours online on their desktop computers every month, with much of that time spent on social media sites. (You can learn how to create a social media strategy for your small business here).

Mistakes are inevitable in any learning process, but you can learn from ones made by others before you. Here are four common social media fails you’ll want to avoid.

Choosing the wrong channel

Who is your customer? And more importantly, where can you find them online? In terms of social media, Pinterest is more popular with women, Instagram with teenagers, and LinkedIn with the educated and affluent.

So don’t tweet just for the sake of being social. Be strategic about what platform you’re spending your valuable time on in order to maximize your brand exposure to the right audience. Before starting any social media activity, conduct a social media audit to find out where your audience is and how to best engage with them.

Building a personal brand, not a business brand

A common mistake is to combine personal and professional details in a single profile—a Twitter presence consisting of the company’s name as the handle, but the owners picture and name, for example.

But even entrepreneurs with separate accounts can accidently cross the line. Small business owners are passionate about their businesses. More often than not, they start them because the product or service is something that they designed or feel extremely close to. Consequently, it can become part of their identity and their personal voices can start leaking into the company’s Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

It’s essential that your social feeds have personality, but it’s even more important that they stay on-message and don’t become a forum to air personal grievances and opinions. A planned editorial calendar is a great way to make sure you’re being consistent with your voice.

Not keeping the lights on

As an entrepreneur, you’re beyond busy, especially if you’re just getting your business off the ground. Often, it is easiest to let the non-critical aspects of your business—like populating Twitter or Instagram account with fresh, relevant content—fall by the wayside while you focus your energies on hiring, attracting new customers, and managing supply chain logistics.

But you should consider social media a mission-critical business function, because it’s where your customers are both playing and paying. If you’re on Twitter, make sure you’re tweeting two to three times a day. This will not only keep you top of mind with your existing audience, but it will help bolster your search engine optimization (SEO) results, helping you to attract new clients in the process.

Not engaging with your audience

This fail goes part and parcel with failing to regularly post, tweet and share content. If you neglect your existing social media channels, you’ll be missing out not only on opportunities to proactively engage with your customers, but perhaps more importantly, mitigating any customer service issues that can arise.

Social media has become the preferred method for customers to air grievances they have with a brand, so if you’re not paying attention and engaging your customers in a meaningful way, an issue that could have easily been solved can quickly spiral out of control. A social listening tool like Salesforce’s Social Studio can help you easily track online conversations about your brand.

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Social media may be new to you and your small business, but there are many pitfalls to navigate when learning the ins and outs of the online world. By staying up-to-date on best practices and honing your skills, you can make social media a powerful tool for your business.

Karin Campbell is Director of Marketing Communications, Canada at Salesforce.


Have you made any of these social media mistakes? Add your own by commenting below.

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