I’ve talked a lot in previous articles about the various ways to ensure the success of your social media marketing campaign. But what about the things you should actively avoid? Both as a business, and even personally?

Look around the web and there are plenty examples of social media marketing mistakes. These can be simple goofs or major faux pas that can compromise the success of your social strategy, or at worst, harm your business and your brand.

First impressions count, so you need to get it right the first time. Once you have made a great first social impression, you then need to maintain that image. Image is everything on social media.

Here are some of the biggest social media marketing mistakes to be avoided:

1. Failing to plan

An effective social media campaign is well thought out and planned ahead. It takes commitment and time, and is a long-term strategy. If you don’t have the time and inclination to be active and to have a regular presence on social media, this marketing channel will not work for you. You need, before you even create a profile, to determine your time investment, your goals and strategy to achieve them.

2. Having multiple profiles

Some companies choose to have more than one profile on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. These all link back to their main website. This is not only annoying and a waste of time and effort; it’s not 100 per cent legal. Make one profile per platform you use, and make it count.

3. Failing to interact

You need to not only post and publish updates; you also need to interact with your followers’. Like and reply to their comments. Answer their questions, and ask for feedback. Social media is not meant to equate with a loudspeaker so you can talk at your audience – you need to be conversing with them.

4. Spamming

This will annoy your followers faster than anything else you might do. Only post relevant links and make your presence valuable, each and every time you post.

5. Having fake followers

Still a huge no-no. Without real followers, your profile has no virtual support, you will generate no leads for your business and there is no point to your social presence. It’s much better to have a smaller base of real followers who are supportive, and which builds into a steadily growing network over time.

6. Automated linking

Automated posting can be valuable if it’s done in a considered and strategic way. It must be structured and without any randomness. Automating the posting of back links to your website, on the other hand, is akin to spam – just don’t do it.

7. Failing to target effectively

You MUST identify your target audience prior to creating a social profile. This is part of the branding of your business, so it should have already been done. A targeted social media campaign will be much more successful for your business than flying blind.

8. Posting inappropriate material

It might seem like the most basic of common sense, but there are plenty of businesses that post inappropriate content at times and this can be extremely damaging to a brand and to the success of a social media strategy. Never post anything that could be perceived as offensive by anyone. Always check content and links before publishing a post. Never post while angry, upset, overtired or intoxicated.

9. Trend misinterpretation

Trending topics, as well as hashtags, can provide a valuable opportunity for brand visibility on social platforms. If you use the right hashtag at the right time, it can be a boon for your brand. Yet inappropriate use of a hashtag and entry into a trending topic can compromise your brand’s reputation instantly. You can even cause offense. Always check exactly what a hashtag is being used for before using it yourself. And only enter the conversation if you have something of high value to contribute – not to simply be seen.

10. Silence

You have a profile but have not posted for a week – or even longer. Are you still there? Silence online is one sure way to lose followers – and have them move on to other more active brands (that is, your competitors).This is where a post scheduling tool like Symphony can be useful – set up posts for the next week; this way you need only commit to posting once a week, yet your posts can be published once or twice a day, or as often as you choose.

SIDE NOTE: Take a look at some of the world’s cleverest social campaigns and find inspiration for your own.

Any effective digital marketing strategy will include a social media component. Done right, your social media marketing campaign can propel your brand and business in a way like no other entity. A great post can go viral and launch your online presence to the stratosphere. A bad post can also go viral, and damage your reputation beyond repair. It is therefore crucial that you avoid making any kind of faux pas or social media marketing mistakes, large or small. It can be very difficult or even impossible to effectively bounce back from a mistake; prevention is better than cure.