Being "successful" with your personal social media doesn't mean you know how to replicate those results for a business--and you probably wouldn't want to. What gives you a personal following on a social network is not the same as what might bring the samesuccess for a business. Just because you got a lot of likes for that spring break bikini photo or a shot of your pet rabbit, doesn't mean you canuse the same tactics to drum up business for a new tech startup. Businesses make many mistakes when it comes to social media. Here are some of the biggest.

1. What social media policy?

If your business is going to use social media, you need to have a written policy in place, as well as employee buy-in. According to social media strategist Brandon Harig of Identify, "Companies who fail to provide guidelines for how their employees should conduct themselves online are dealing with a ticking time bomb." This means that even if your business isn't on social media, your employees probably are. You need to have an agreement with them in writing. This is partly why you see lines such as "tweets are my own" in the Twitter bios of many prominent company employees.

2. Thinking nobody reads the bio

This leads us right into how many businesses fail to complete all parts of their social media profiles. This is lazy, and might even costyou customers: many people readyour bio to find out more about you. Plus, these bios can be search engine optimization (SEO) gold, and failing to complete them with applicable keywords means you're opting out of potential higher rankings. Now that Google+ is becoming a kind ofYellow Pages of the Internet, you'll want to make sure your business bio there is as complete as possible. Tyler Brown, social media specialist at Checks-Superstore.com, "Make sure to include your physical address, URL and depending on space, up to a couple of paragraphs about company history and current mission."

3. Caring more about quantity vs. quality

When it comes to your followers and fans, quality trumps quantity. However, it's human nature to think otherwise. According to the Senior Marketing Director at SocialChorus, Dave Hawley, "Some companies are willing to do anything to get more followers, fans or likes--from buying followers to staging a fake Twitter hack." However, this doesn't lead to sales, so it's really a waste of time. The strongest way to create an engaged community and followers that come with it is to consistently post compelling content and interact with fans over a long period of time.

4. Ignoring feedback

Any comments, posts, complaints, DMs or questions your followers send to you via social media should be answered professionally and promptly as if they left a message on your company voicemail. All too many companies still fail to realize that most customers, especially millennials, look at social media channels as valid a form of interaction as a physical trip into a brick and mortar store. Adi Bittan, co-founder and CEO of OwnerListens, says, "Customers are talking about you online whether you like it or not." They expect answers, and you have to be there to take part in any online discussion pertaining to you. If you fail to engage, you're missing a valuable chance to shape your image. Don't let other people shape your reputationwhen you could be shaping it yourself.

5. Failing to post

If you don't post regularly, you risk losing your audience. And once a week isn't going to cut it:many experts recommend somewhere in the range of three times per week to every day, or even more often. Some companies like to post once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Publications like Inc. post multiple times throughout the day because they have so much solid content to share. Whatever you choose for your company depends on your followers and their schedules, too, of course. You also need to research when the best time to post for your industry and demographics may be so you can do so the most effectively.

Finally, it's always a good idea to hire a social media manager rather than try to do it yourself (or force an intern to take on the task). The truth is your company needs to maintain a presence on multiple social networks, interact with followers or even maintain a blog-- so this job is a lot bigger than you might think. You could be looking for a social media manager and community manager all in one. You'll need a plan and discipline as well as creativity from whoever you hire. There's a world of difference between using these platforms for personal and professional goals, and one wrong move can cost you dearly.

Published on: Aug 4, 2014