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Social media is an incredible resource for small businesses looking to reach more people.  But it can quickly become a major hindrance if you post without regard for social media etiquette.

That’s right – there are unspoken rules for each platform that users are quick to spot. While missteps are easy to make, they aren’t inevitable.

Take a look at the 8 most common social media mistakes described below (and then avoid making them in the future).

Diving in without a plan

Business accounts tend to post when there’s a big development, product release, or promotional offer. In reality, those events are few and far between, but your customers are on social media every day.

Don’t fall off the radar by relegating your accounts as a space used exclusively for announcements. Develop a schedule for releasing posts at least two weeks in advance, including infographics, related news articles, tips, and more.

Posting unedited images

That picture you took with the camera on your phone? It doesn’t look as professional as you think it does. Even a crystal-clear shot can look skewed and pixelated when seen through a browser.

If you have to take pictures with your phone, make sure they’re edited. A free tool like Pixlr will help you find the right resolution, add filters, and crop out your thumb in the corner.

Overlooking hashtag etiquette

Hashtags are great ways to connect with your target audience. What’s less great is ignoring the main three rules of tagging etiquette.

1. Don’t put a wall of hashtags at the end of your post. Five is ideal, and anything over 10 just looks desperate.

2. #Stop incorporating #hashtags into the body of your text #LikeThis. It might be #tempting, but it’s just distracting.

3. It can be fun to #AddAnEntireSentenceInAHashtag, but it’s difficult to read. If you must combine words in a tag, do it sparingly and capitalize individual words.

Muddling your brand identity

Your social media profiles – not posts, profiles – should match across every platform. Don’t use different icon pictures, writing tones, or color palettes because people will question your credibility.

A logo is ideal for any profile icon connected to your business (check out this free tool if you don’t have one yet). You should also create a folder with the HTML codes for your colors, keywords for your audience, and trending buzzwords.

Boring your followers

There are plenty of ways to bore your followers. This can include constantly posting and reposting the exact same images or types of images.

More commonly, businesses will post blocks of text. Few people are willing to read through 300+ words of unbroken text, especially on a social media site. Break up your written content after every 2 or 3 sentences.

Treating every platform the same

Not every platform is suitable for every kind of post. Text limits, app formatting, and more all need to be taken into account.

If you need to brush up on how to optimize your content, this article from Buffer is a good starting point. Ready it with care and feel free to edit past posts to better suit each social site.

By this point, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Maybe you’ve made a few of the slip-ups already. Don’t panic – just be prepared to change.

Remember the first point? Don’t dive in without a plan. Posting off-the-cuff means your more likely to neglect the needs of your customers across each platform.

Taking a systematic, scheduled approach to social media makes it so much easier to organize your content. Give yourself grace and, more importantly, plenty of time to review your social media strategy.

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