By Princess Jones

Social media is a lot like a Rubix Cube. The concept seems simple but once you start looking for a return on your efforts, you start to realize it’s not so easy as point and post.

So, it’s no surprise that so many small businesses get social media wrong. Not everyone has the budget to hire a social media marketing manager, but most of us could use a few tips on how to suck less at marketing our businesses online.

You’re on every single platform possible.

There are so many social media platforms out there. You have your Big Three: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. But there’s also Snapchat and Tumblr. Don’t forget Google Plus. Not to mention niche platforms specific to certain industries or cultures. And there are more coming every single day.

But it doesn’t matter how many social media platforms the world keeps spitting out. You need to be on the ones where your target audience will be. Also, consider which medium is best for showcasing your brand and marketing goals. For example, since Snapchat is a closed system, that content isn’t made to be shared. So it might not work for brands that are looking to create viral content.

You’re focusing on follower count instead of interaction.

I know you have been watching your follower count with eager eyes since you first opened your social media profiles. Whether it’s five thousand, twenty thousand, or a million, you’ve got a number in your head that will make you feel like your brand has finally made it.

But contrary to what you may have heard, social media isn’t about numbers. It’s about interaction. Interacting with your followers creates discussion, likes, shares, which all spread your message as far as possible. Follower numbers only matter in relation to the interaction you’re getting from them. If you’ve got millions of followers but no one is liking or retweeting your content, they’re worthless.

You’re using a verification service.

On most social media platforms, there are third-party apps or services available to enhance your experience. Many of them make managing your content and followers a little easier. But the ones you need to stay away from are the verification services. Essentially, they work by sending direct messages to new followers asking them to verify that they aren’t spambots.

Now think about this for a minute. One of the reasons you don’t want to have spambots following you is because they send spammy direct messages, tweets, or comments with undesirable links. So to avoid that, you’re going to send spammy direct messages with links? Seems counterintuitive, right?

If the first thing I get from you after following you is a message asking me to click a link and prove I’m a person, I’m going to probably unfollow you immediately. Instead of adding more spam to the world, why not just vet your followers properly before following back. Not everything can be automated.

You’ve got the intern running your social media program.

Your social media program should not be an afterthought. It’s as important as the rest of your marketing plan. You can not just hand over your passwords to an intern or an office manage and hope for the best.

Start by looking over your complete marketing plan. (Or creating one, if you haven’t done that yet.) What are you goals? What are your current plans? Which social media platforms would fit in with that? Determine frequency and content. Do all of this with the same professionalism you’d use to create your business plan or your marketing plan.