As a small-business owner or entrepreneur, you know the sales and marketing landscape has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. For example, 10 years ago, "social media" didn't even exist! But now, it can be one of the most effective methods to communicate with (not to, a point we'll get to later) your current and potential customers.

Now you may be thinking, where do I start if I'd like to enter the social media world and determine which social networks are right for my business? To help you navigate myriad social media choices, let's expose some common social media myths. And remember, as Herman Edwards (ex-coach of the New York Jets) once said, "If you've got a goal without a plan, then it's just a wish." It's imperative to begin with a plan of action if you're going to succeed in social media. I had the opportunity to interview Scott Brandt, vice president of marketing at SurePayroll, Inc., a trusted provider of easy online payroll services to small businesses nationwide.

Here are Scott's eight pitfalls to avoid in social media, or eight terrible social media myths to be aware of:

1. My customers don't care about social media.

Whether you know it or not, your potential customers are using social media. Recognize the facts. According to Pew Research Center, 74 percent of adults use social media, so chances are some of your prospects are out there. Additionally, influencers and reporters track social media for story ideas, products, services, and more.

2. I need to join every social network.

Spreading yourself too thin can be more trouble than it's worth. Not only do small-business owners have limited time and resources, but engaging every social channel is too time consuming for you too. It's important to research the specific social media channels your customers frequent and to target those channels. If you're new to social media, check out Facebook, Twitter and, LinkedIn--all have expansive demographics and usage rates.

3. I need choose only one channel.

The opposite is also true. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Focus is important but creating a social media silo could limit your brand awareness. One benefit of social media is its ability to cross-pollinate messages and spread information virally. When possible, you'll want to capitalize on it.

4. Content: The more, the better.

Don't over post. Less can be more. Share information that is interesting and relevant, and, most important, valuable to end customers and prospects. Think about keywords related to your business, important messages, and trending information to share with followers and customers. And don't be overly promotional in your messages. While you want to create a drumbeat of communication, followers do not like spam. Educate, entertain, and inspire!

5. It's OK to ignore or delete negative feedback.

It's important to actively manage your brand reputation. To mitigate negative comments, it's important to respond thoughtfully, authentically, and with a plan to address a problem. By simply ignoring negative feedback, a customer may become increasingly angry and spread the feedback virally. More important, when a potential new customer searches for your product or service, this feedback will be part of the landscape of their research. Responding to customers will show that you've heard the feedback, recognized that issues may exist, and reaffirmed to the world how important your customers are to your business.

6. It's all about the number of fans or followers.

Relevancy is important. Fans and followers are important to any social media channel but are they fans or potential customers or word-of-mouth ambassadors? Maybe they're influencers who can help you spread the word about your brand. As you work to gain followers, identify the promotions and channels that reach the most quality fans or prospects who will help you build your brand and grow your bottom line.

7. Social media cannot be measured.

As on other channels, you can track content, new leads, conversions, visits to your website, specific campaigns, and more. Social media metrics and providers exist to help measure results. Twitter and Facebook, for example, will allow you to place a pixel on your website that can track when a visitor from one of those sites has created a lead or landed on a certain page.

8. It's all about you.

No, it's not! Promotional messages have a place in your social media strategy. However, if you promote yourself constantly, you'll lose followers. Social media should be used to build brand awareness, identity, and reputation. Ask yourself, if you saw this update, would you click the like, comment, retweet, or share button yourself?

Your social media posts should reflect your expertise in an industry, your awareness of the world around you, and your ability to share content that your followers find relevant and helpful. Solve problems, share ideas, and seek feedback. Social media is two-way dialogue.

Now it's your turn. What do you think are the most important social media myths and pitfalls to avoid? Let me know your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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