Social media is all about connecting with people. So, it’s an amazing “place” to build your brand and grow your business…if you know what you’re doing.

Problem is, the online world is always changing. And there’s a ton of (spammy) misinformation out there about how businesses and brands should be using social media. That’s why I’m going to set the record straight by sharing some mistakes I see people making when it comes to using social media to build an audience and grow a business.

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This post covers two critical “problem areas” where people tend to make a lot of mistakes. It’s important to double check how you’re doing in both of these particular “problem areas”, even if you’re not making any of the specific mistakes outlined this post.

Problem Area: Profiles and Posting Process

Each social media platform offers spots in your profile to share important information. Complete the profile information on platforms where your brand/business is active. Additionally, how you post on each social media site should vary since people use each platform a little differently.

Mistake #1: Using unrelated hashtags on Instagram

When you post on Instagram, include hashtags that people are searching. This is how new people find your posts in the first place. You also want to use hashtags that are relevant to the image you posted – but not hashtags that describe the image. For instance, if you’re a copywriter, don’t put #copywriter. No one is looking for that, unfortunately. Find your ideal clients on Instagram, and see what hashtags they are using.

For more tips on how to find hashtags to use with your Instagram posts, check out this video.

Mistake #2: Having a private Instagram account for business

Honestly, I’m not sure there’s a logical reason why you would do this.

Some people use their personal account for business purposes and want to keep it set private to protect pictures of their kids, friends, etc. In this case, it makes sense to start an entirely separate business account on Instagram. That way, you can keep your personal account private and your business account is public.

Hint: If your account is private, your posts don’t show up in hashtag searches.

Mistake #3: Neglecting personal Facebook profiles

This mistake is becoming a bigger deal as Facebook groups grow in popularity. When/if you’re active in groups on Facebook, people will click your profile to see what you do.

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If you have your Page listed in your profile somewhere, they may click over and give you a “Like”. If you don’t have a Page (or even if you do), you should use the “Intro” space on your personal profile to add a link to your website or another place where people can connect and engage further with you online.

Problem Area: Engagement Strategy

As a standard rule-of-thumb, social media engagement should be done in real-time. But this doesn’t mean you need to become a slave to your social media notifications. Schedule some time each day or each week to jump on and see what your fans/followers/communities are up to. This step requires a personal touch.

Mistake #4: Auto DM-ing on Twitter

Impersonal, automatic direct messages have been “popular” for years. In other old news, this strategy has always been spammy and it’s never really worked when it comes to building real connections with followers. Keep your DMs personal so your social media connections know they can trust your business/brand.

Mistake #5: Auto-Tweeting on Twitter

This is essentially the same thing as auto DM-ing new followers. It’s just an automated tweet, as opposed to a DM. If you’re committed to connecting with new followers, then make sure your connection is personal. Take a look at their profile. How could you wow your new follower with thoughtful “hello” that has a personal touch?

Mistake #6: Using Autobots to Comment on Instagram

There are services you can hire to like/comment on a certain number of Instagram posts that use a specific hashtag. If you weren’t previously aware of this, now you know why you get random accounts leaving lame comments like “cool!” or “nice!” below your photos.

If you’re using a service to implement (or you’re DIY-ing) this strategy, save yourself the money and/or time and stop. Any exposure your account gains from this spam-tastic strategy won’t serve your business in the long run. Plus, it’s against Instagram’s Terms of Service and your account could be suspended if you’re caught doing this.

Mistake #7: Following and unfollowing on Instagram

This is when someone will bulk-follow anywhere from 10-100+ people at one time. Then, after 24-48 hours they’ll check to see who followed them back, and they’ll turn around and unfollow those 10-100+ people (or at least the accounts that didn’t follow them back).

This is a spammy way to grow a following, so just don’t do it. Follow accounts you actually enjoy following. Keep it authentic, and you’ll keep building an audience that’s authentically engaged with your message.

What mistakes have you seen people making on social media? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Episode #009: Monique Melton

Building a community, and a brand, is an essential part of business. Monique knows this first-hand, but she's also passionate...

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