Social media is vital for all types of business, including brick-and-mortar businesses not just online retailers. It provides an opportunity for effective and personalized communication, and to grow awareness in this new culture of “online living” that now permeates society.

Social media is a vital and affordable marketing instrument that will yield solid results, if it is given the time to learn and practice regularly.

It won’t work if you post once in a while. Such a practice is as bad as not using social media at all. It is important to be actively involved in sharing information with readers online, so more people can relate to you as a person, not just as a business or product.

Unfortunately, there continue to be many business owners who don’t understand or care about social media communication. Allow me to share a few mistakes to avoid while actively pursuing this valuable avenue of showcasing yourself and your brand.

Weak Business Profile – The profile you construct has to be appealing. Up-to-date information and specific details of who you are and what you do is important. A profile that is tight and informative will engage the viewer and hold fast interest in what and who you are. Many times I see business owners have spotty information. Include your background, your interests, your goals.

Repetitive Posting – You may be active on your social media site, but if your posts and content are dull and repetitive it will backfire on you and will cause you to lose readers and prevent growth. Everyone likes new information and fresh ideas. Posting the same thing over and over is off-putting. Avoid grammatical errors, keep informed of ongoing local events and popular culture. Use your own voice and stay away from writing corporate-type prose.

Self-Serving Posting – The premise of using social media to increase sales and promotion of services, doing it blatantly and making every move and post seem like an advertising campaign, will put off readers. Be subtle, stay away from boasting. Offer tips, incentives, fun facts, and ways readers can gain from your knowledge.

Allowing Social Media Efforts To Stagnate – Social media is about maintaining a dynamic conversation between you and your customers. Build your content so it gets out in multiple places. Answer blogs, respond to tweets, engage Facebook “friends” to post on various sites so your content is shared through RSS and multiple page views. Social media is a long-term commitment. This becomes possible through personalized messages and posts, replying to queries, and expressing gratitude for comments and feedback. This connection with people can pay off and benefit your business tremendously.

Not Posting Personal Pictures – I don’t like my picture being taken either, but people like to see the face of the person they are dealing with. They need to relate to you by seeing an individual’s face on their social media site, so get a decent photo of yourself taken now and add it to your marketing tools.

Blindly Posting Without knowledge Of The Tools – The worst thing you can do is to start podcasting, blogging, tweeting, friending on Facebook, and posting YouTube videos without knowing how each site works or who will manage them. Be proactive in learning how to post on each type of site you choose to communicate through.

Posting Without Thinking – Social media is a network and word spreads quickly, especially in a small community. Anything posted with indiscretion and unprofessionally will have disastrous effects. At all times, keep that in mind, so that everything written and posted is appropriate rather than damaging for any section of people.

Perhaps the biggest mistake is that many individuals want quick results and feel that social media should help their business awareness grow overnight. This does not happen. Don’t be discouraged if you’re just starting out, and leave this as a business promotion tool and give up on posts and updates if you don’t see immediate results. Being patient and focused holds the key to success in anything you do. Starting may be slow sometimes, but it will catch on and will become a vital and integral part of your business and marketing tools.

Mark Wolfe has been the owner of Mark Wolfe Design, a design and advertising services agency based in Charleston, for more than 19 years. Mark Wolfe Design specializes in Corporate Identity, Social Media Marketing, Web Design, Photography and helping to establish smaller companies with a strong marketing and design experience. Mark Wolfe is a sought-after speaker on Social Media marketing skills. Connect with him at, or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo Credit: Jason A. Howie via photopin