Small businesses, large enterprises, and every company in between. If you’re running a business in this day and age, it’s no longer optional to have an online presence.

While having a professional-quality, mobile-friendly website is great, the bar has been set higher by your audience. They now expect you to be available through as many channels as possible for their ease of communication and convenience. This includes your website, review forums (like Yelp), email, phone, and, yes, social media.

There are some business owners who opt to eschew social media because of its perceived difficulty in maintaining it. There are others who halfheartedly set up profiles, and then never touch them again. Neither of which is a smart business decision since it reflects a lack of commitment to your audience’s needs.

So, in the coming year, rather than try to avoid using social media, focus on the practical ways to ease into it. Let’s start by honing in on the social media marketing mistakes to avoid in 2017.

The 7 Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

With shrinking budgets and less time to dedicate to anything but managing your business, it can be difficult summoning the effort (and courage) to utilize social media. Don’t be fooled though. Social media plays an important role in marketing. In fact, nine out of ten marketers claim that social media has helped them generate more attention for their company.

So if you want to do right by your audience (and your business), start the new year off right by avoiding these social media marketing mistakes:

Mistake #1: Not Joining Social Media

Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Instagram. YouTube. Google+. You get the point. There’s a lot of social media out there.

Despite having all those options, you shouldn’t be wasting your time or energy on building a presence on each one. This is part of the reason why business owners become overwhelmed by the prospect of joining social. You only need to be on the ones that make the most sense for your business (like image-friendly Facebook for an online store).

Mistake #2: Not Putting Effort into Social Media

In Time Warner Cable’s Small Business Technology Impact Study, respondents showed a growing interest in companies that maintained an active presence on social media. Half of those aged 18 to 34, 42% of those aged 35 to 54, and 24% of those over 55 said that they were more likely to be customers of a company that regularly posted to Facebook than those that did not.

Mistake #3: Not Using a Management Tool

There are very affordable (as well as free) social media management tools that help businesses do social better. They keep you organized, encourage you to post more, and some will even tell you the optimal date and time to share your next post on each platform. These tools also give you better (and more convenient) analytics than the individual platforms will.

Mistake #4: Talking Too Much

There is such a thing as oversharing and it’s very easy to do on social media when you’ve got access to it 24/7. But since you’re on social media for the purposes of marketing your business, you’ve got to remember to keep your game face on, too. Here are three basic rules you should live by:

  1. Don’t talk too much on any of these platforms, except Twitter. (There are about 500 million tweets every day, so you can never go wrong with being talkative there.)
  2. Don’t talk about controversial or otherwise divisive topics.
  3. Don’t talk about too many different subjects since it’ll have people (and the search engines) wondering what your real focus is.

Mistake #5: Not Connecting

Yes, you’re using social media to build your brand and ultimately gain more customers. No, that’s not the inherent purpose of social media. So how do you make it work for your end goal?

Look at social media as if it were an in-person conference or industry meetup. You need to leverage social media to make genuine connections, so you should be involved in more than just sharing your content or promoting your products. You need to grow your connections (the right ones) in order to develop relationships, so that the next time someone is in need of services like yours, they turn to you.

Mistake #6: Not Listening to Your Audience

Have you ever been in a conversation where you know the person on the other end is just waiting for their turn to speak? Don’t be that person on social. Your audience will see right through that.

If you pay close enough attention, you’ll see that your audience is already talking about what they need or what pains them. And, in some instances, you don’t need to pay that close of attention. Sometimes your customers will reach out to you directly to let you know how they feel. One of the social media mistakes you should absolutely avoid is ignoring those sentiments, as 25% of your audience expects a response from you within an hour’s time!

Mistake #7: Not Understanding How Social Media Relates to Search

If you’ve spent any significant amount of time in Google search results, you’ve no doubt run across people’s social media profiles. Seems odd the first time you see it, but then you soon realize that’s just smart marketing. Those people have garnered yet another platform through which someone can find them in search.

Social media marketing also happens to be great for SEO if you’re successful at driving more (and relevant) traffic to your website’s content from there.

Social media can be a pretty intimidating platform to use for the purposes of marketing and communication—especially if you’re new to it. Social media marketing takes a lot of coordination, strategy, time, and money to do it right… which is why many businesses choose to stay away from it. But that would be your first mistake. The end game here is to improve your brand’s reputation—and social media is a fantastic place to do it.