If your company is online, don't forget that social media is an extension of your branding, and image is everything. Once it's on the web, it's there forever, so whether it's Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Quora or another site, avoid these common missteps when speaking online for your company.

Don't Just Repeatedly Link to Your Products
Blasting out repetitive links to products or services you offer will only get you so far. Do it too often and at best you'll lose the interest of your followers, and at worst you're just spamming your customers. Social media is not the equivalent of an answering machine โ€“ sending out a one-sided, self-promoting message all the time will not endear you to your followers (or clients).

Do Offer Service or Product Enhancements
Think beyond pushing your products and consider how you can reward your followers and encourage them to be repeat buyers. For example, if your company sold makeup you could post video tutorials for creative ways to wear your products. Sourcing others' materials or partnering with a third party can accomplish this for little to no money, or you could take the extra step and create original branded content that can then be shared on other platforms and by other users to reach your brand even farther.

Don't Robo-Speak
It's awkward to read tweets and posts by someone who writes like they're made of metal. Avoid repeating posts and tweets whenever possible and try to write naturally โ€“ social media is all about making connections, not about one-sided conversations.

Do Act Human
Have some personality! Engage with your audience and be passionate about your product. Retweet or pass on info about the area your business is located in, and keep up with trends surrounding your products. Restaurants, for example, should tweet about specials but if your joint attracts foodies, why not slip in some information about the chef, the ingredients (are they locally sourced, for example), or hints about upcoming specialty dishes?

Don't Forget Who You're Speaking for
Internet anonymity may make us more brazen than we should be. Besides the obvious advice of not swearing or making inappropriate comments, remember that not everyone may read the entire conversation, so be aware of posts or tweets that could be taken out of context.

Do Stay Consistent and on Message
Speak as if you were face to face with a client or your company CEO. Don't express personal opinions as if they were the company's. Beyond politeness, stay true to your brand at all times in terms of tone and presentation.

Don't Misuse the Technology
"Fake it 'til you make it" is not your friend here. Using tools like hashtags, trends and the shorthand for retweeting and mass tweeting without understanding how they work will mean you missed an opportunity to connect more effectively and will make you stick out for the wrong reasons.

Do Take the Time to Learn
If you're not entirely sure of the best way to use a service like Twitter, create a personal or dummy account to try things out first (and read through the great information that's out there to get you started). Try picking a topic that is a hobby of yours, or better yet, try and see things from your customer's prospective and check out what your competition is doing well (and what you can improve on).

The Bottom Line
Social media doesn't have to remain a mystery. In the end, it's a valuable tool for connecting you with your clients, so take the time to learn its potential, even if you hire someone to take care of it for you. Be aware of your brand and your potential market โ€“ it's expansive with social media.

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