You know what you’re supposed to do in social media. You’ve read the guides, the blog posts, the articles. But here’s a list of what you don’t want to do. They’re the common social media mistakes that others have made so you don’t have to.

Got a pen?

Creating profiles everywhere: You may want toclaim your username everywhere, but you don’t want to set up shop on every community on the Web. Instead, research the various sites and locate the ones that will give you the most bang for your buck. Not everyone should be on Twitter. Find out where your users are, where they’re interacting most, and where you’d be most welcome. Then, set up shop there. This will help you focus your efforts and prevent you from suffering from the dreaded Social Media Account Overload (SMAO). You don’t want to dilute your efforts by trying to be active on too many sites.  You want to pick and choose to find the sites most beneficial to you.

Not completing your profile: Once you decide which sites you’re going to engage in, you need to commit and genuinely become part of that network. That means being a good member of the community and completely filling out your user profile. Doing so helps you attract like-minded members but it also shows people that you’re here to stay.  Help gain some easy trust points by customizing your profile – add a photo, share your hobbies, fill out your description, etc — to let everyone know you’re not going anywhere. Tell and show people who you are. Yes, social media is where your customers are, but you have to give them a reason to want to engage with you.  Put yourself out there in order to benefit from real conversations down the road.

Fake friending: Tell me when this starts to sound familiar: You hear that Twitter is an important social media site. So you go, create an account, and then immediately start friending (or, in this case, following) everyone you can find and everyone who friends or follows you first. Don’t do that! It’s a complete waste of time and will dilute your efforts. Go for quality over quantity in your relationships. Seek out the people who will be most vocal about you. Then, go out of your way for them. Help them. Connect with them. Build real relationships. That is how social media becomes powerful. Fake friends aren’t going to click your links, they won’t visit your site, and they won’t buy your products. They actually won’t do anything for you.  It’s okay to be choosy with your online relationships. You wouldn’t walk into a coffee shop and immediately ask everyone to be your best friend. Don’t do it online either.

Selling to everyone, immediately: Direct marketing can work in social media, but you need to create the relationships before you try and call on them. It’s the same offline, yet sometimes we forget. If you immediately walk into social media and start selling, no one is going to listen. You’re going to be ruled a spammer and you’ll not only receive a negative response, but you run the risk of permanently damaging your brand. You can’t afford to do that. Take some time to learn about the community, to meet the people, and then only offer your product when it makes sense.

Using the same strategy on every site: Facebook is not MySpace. Twitter is not WordPress. Linkedin is not Naymz. And they’re all different from Friendfeed. Every social networking site is different and you need to create a different strategy for each site you decide to engage in — one that is customized to that site’s specific rules and code of conduct. Trying to run a one-size-fits-all approach will limit your ability to be successful anywhere.

Not measuring it: If you’re not going to come up with ways to measure your social media efforts, don’t jump in. Before you get into social media, know why you’re there and what you plan to get out of it. What are you looking for? Increased buzz over a product? Better brand awareness? Blog subscribers? Traffic? How are you going to measure these goals? Whatever your metrics are, make sure you’ve identified them before you throw money into programs you’re not tracking. Otherwise you’re fishing in the dark.

Above are some of the biggest social media mistakes I’ve seen. Any good ones you’ve seen “other” people make?

Source: Small Business Trends