By now, social media is a core component of your marketing plan. You have surely realized by now that using platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram can amplify your story more effectively than any tool we have ever known.

The issue arises when you misunderstand these platforms and use them as sales tools, as opposed to what they were intended to be: platforms to listen, engage, and build relationships. I see people make that mistake constantly, and it hurts me every time.

With that in mind, I'd like to save you the trouble of going down a dark path. Here are three very painful examples of mistakes you or someone on your team might be making on social media:

1. Please stop mass tagging.

This one is one of my biggest pet peeves, especially on Twitter. Imagine the following scenario. I have my iPhone configured so that I get a ping every time someone mentions me on Twitter. You are starting to use Twitter to promote your brand and decide it is a good idea to share your new blog post and tag me, along with 10 other people in the tweet. 

You do this because you want us all to read the post. You want to get on our radar. Let me tell you what happens next. I get pinged about a blog post I didn't express any interest in reading, and then, if you get your way, every one of the people you tagged begins to reply to the tweet, which by default--thanks, Twitter--is set to reply all. 

The notifications begin to pour in, one by one. Let me tell you how much of that "get on their radar" goal you have accomplished: All of it. You are on my radar. I will now be blocking you on Twitter and not engaging with you or your brand any time in the near future. Congrats.

Stop mass tagging people on Twitter or any other platform. Engage. Be personal. Be authentic. You know, like you are offline when talking to people.

2. Opting people into your messages never works.

I have been asking this question for many years and no one has offered a sane response as of yet: What was Facebook thinking to let someone add me to a group without my consent?

Just because you can add me to a group without my consent does not mean you should. In other words, you want me to join your group, follow you on Twitter, engage with your content? Give me a reason to. Don't force it on me.

As I once heard from the guy who invented the Like button on Facebook, he wanted to give people a way to show their appreciation for good content. Instead, marketers ruined it and started to beg for likes.

Let people opt in because they recognize your value. By forcing me to opt in, you are essentially forcing me to opt out.

3. Cold pitching is something you should avoid at all costs.

Cold pitching on social media doesn't work. People can just ignore your messages.

Instead, reach out to a journalist, engage with their content, build some trust. No, I don't mean trick them into thinking you care and then going in and pitching them. I mean, really care.

Build relationships with relevant people in your industry. Not when you need them for something, but long before. Listen to what they have to say, hear their needs, learn their interests. Care.

This is the way we behave offline. Somehow, online, we think it's acceptable to sell non-stop, force people to listen when they are not interested, and spam random folks in the hopes of getting a few likes or retweets.

You have Twitter. It's free. Use it. The same goes for other platforms--start using them to listen and learn.

As someone smart once said: "You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that ratio."