By Ebonie Townsend

Executives and small business owners have embraced social media as an invaluable resource to their organizations. Not because they understand it, but because it has proven to increase sales, raise awareness and accomplish goals. However, many are still unsure how to achieve this, and what social media success entails. The C-Suite understands their business should have a Facebook page, but are clueless of what to share, when and how often. Here are four detrimental practices you should stop doing immediately and alternatives to implement instead.

1. Thinking Money Can Buy Everything

When organizations realize they should invest in social media they blindly throw money at their channels in hopes of building an engaged community. You can buy ads on Twitter and you can boost your Facebook posts, but you can’t buy engagement. The cold hard truth about building communities on your social media platforms is that it takes time, and although you or your social media manager may be able to implement strategies to expedite this process, your community cannot be bought.

2. Sending Automated Messages

Please stop sending your followers automated messages. It’s impersonal, generic and downright annoying. Build relationships instead. Go read that blog post your follower just tweeted and comment on it instead. Show a genuine interest. Before you buy that Facebook Ad, make sure you’ve invested time into your community. You want increased engagement, butyou aren’t engaging. Relationship-building doesn’t work that way. Yielding results can take months to reap but as long as the relationship is cultivated, it will last forever.

3. Delegating Social Media

Executives too often push off social media tasks to anyone in their organization willing to take it on. Familiarity with social media platforms and experience with personal accounts do not qualify you to manage a platform for a brand. Furthermore, simply posting to your social media platforms does not equal social media management. Choose your social media person(s) strategically, revisit your organization’s short and long-term goals and create messaging around those goals.

4. Deleting Negative Comments

Negative comments are fair game and shouldn’t be treated as trolls. Don’t go deleting or hiding comments you aren’t happy with. This goes for review sites like Yelp as well. Instead, use them as an opportunity to reach out to your customer or improve on that aspect of your business. Deleting comments may put your community under the impression that you have something to hide. Customers appreciate brands who reach out to resolve issues. It proves you are engaged and that you’re listening.

Authenticity, transparency and value are the sacred trio of community building. Your social media platforms aren’t a side project you can blindly hand off to an intern. It’s the voice of who you are and your opportunity to set your organization apart from the other 40 million small business pages on Facebook. Tap into the personality of your brand, be open, honest, ethical and fulfill your customers’ informational needs. None of this can be purchased with your company’s credit card and there is no fast track to building a community.