Whether you’ve been managing social media accounts for brands for years or just starting out, sometimes marketers just want quick tips on how to promote their business on social media.

A while back I shared an Instagram role talking about some social media mistakes that North Bay companies – and myself – make in content creation, sharing online, and interacting with their communities have seen. And marketing buddies said they had to work on one or more of these “bugs”.

Here are seven common mistakes every marketer should avoid if they want their social media marketing efforts to achieve their goals:

1. Never get involved!

I’ll say it again: social media is not a billboard. The platforms are designed to encourage social interaction between people, and it’s no different with brands. Connections are key to long term relationships and sales. The best part is that most of the community building is 100% free. You don’t need a huge marketing budget. You don’t have to buy followers. But it takes time. If you take the time to serve and promote your community online, you will see growth.

Spend 10 minutes a day with people who leave questions or comments. Review your location tags and thank customers for sharing pictures of your place of business. Search local hashtags like #SonomaWine or #SonomaEats and leave well-intentioned comments on Twitter or Instagram. (This doesn’t work on Facebook unless you do it on your Personal Page, not your Brand Page.) Comment on Instagram stories from people you follow.

2. Don’t plan ahead

If you only post sporadically to post because you think you need to, you will never see results. This is quickly becoming a cycle where marketers feel like social media isn’t working.

It works. All you need to do is plan your content ahead of time so it can add value to your audience. Then call to action to actually sell your product or service.

Leap Point: Planning your content in advance and planning your pictures and videos will leave you with a lot more time to do everything else that is part of your day-to-day work.

By stacking your photos and writing content on different days of the month, marketers can have content for an entire month and not have to worry about what to post in the moment.

This often only leads to the target groups not receiving any value. Planning ahead means marketers will be more focused on what they share, which will result in a more engaged community and more sales too. Learn more with this free guide so you can plan ahead. Also, use a social media planner (e.g. Sprout Social, Agorapulse, Plann, Planoly) for your content so you know what to expect.

3. Do not edit photos

I still think relationships are more important than a pretty picture. But let’s be honest: there are a lot of bad pictures out there. When creating content for social media, you will learn the basics of photography using your phone too. Don’t record in 100% sunlight, be careful of your angles and use your phone’s editing tools to enhance your pictures.

With just a few small changes, an image or video can look better. If you are managing social media for your brand and still not enjoying the photos you have taken, turn to outsourcing. Have a photographer / videographer come over once a quarter to take pictures you can use over and over again, or find someone in your company who will take good photos and have them do stacked photo shoots. Then add all of the photos to a cloud storage service like Dropbox for everyone in your company to use.

4. Ignore DMs

Ignoring direct messages or comments from your customers basically means they don’t care what they have to say.

Every day you work on social media marketing, devote a little time to engaging with your audience, answering questions, and reviewing your direct messages. Sometimes there are great questions in the Instagram direct message space that you may never see if you don’t look for them.

This is especially important when businesses reopen as opening hours are different and customers may be confused about when a retail store is open. One oenologist said on my Instagram page, “I don’t know how many times I’ve notified a company of reservations (because it wasn’t obvious on their website) and they never got back to me. Two wineries lost my business because they didn’t respond in the course of a week. “