Social media is an amazing avenue for promoting your business, for building your network, and for learning… but it’s also easy to make mistakes that cost you time, money, and customers.

Mistake #1: Trying to Be Everywhere

Hot new social networks pop up all the time. If you don’t join them, you’re going to miss out on potential customers and fans — right?

Not necessarily. In fact, you’re better off focusing on a couple of large networks instead of spreading yourself too thin.

Mistake #2: Always Broadcasting Rather Than Conversing

Social media is…. social. If all your updates plug your products or services, or even your blog, your audience will quickly switch off.

Mistake #3: Not Promoting Your Company Enough

Don’t get so worried about over-promoting that you go too far the other way.

Your audience needs to know — and to be reminded — that you have something to sell.

Mistake #4: Using a Facebook Profile Rather Than a Page

While this isn’t such a common mistake these days, it’s still one some people make — Even if your entire company is currently just you, don’t try to add all your customers as Facebook friends.  Try to keep your social media personal life and business life separate.

Mistake #5: Sharing or Retweeting Links Without Reading Them First

This mistake is so easy to make. You’re in a rush; you want to get some content out there to your audience, and you throw up a link that looks good.

There’s a big danger here. While the headline or the first paragraph of the article you’re linking to could be spot-on, there might be content further on that you really didn’t want to share.

Mistake #6: Only Posting One Type of Update

Mix things up from time to time. In particular, if you don’t currently use images much in social media, try posting them much more often: images do well on pretty much every network.

Mistake #7: Letting Messages Remain Unread

When you’re on multiple networks, and have lots of other communication channels to deal with — like phone calls and emails — it’s easy to forget to check for @replies or messages.  Whether public or private, unanswered messages give the impression you don’t care about your customers and prospects.