Social media isn't just about sending a few Tweets and posting a few things on Facebook. If done…

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Social media isn't just about sending a few Tweets and posting a few things on Facebook. If done right, you can drastically increase traffic to your site, bump up customer spending, and create brand ambassadors that spread positive word of mouth all around the web. Having a bad social media strategy? Could be detrimental.

Managing your social media network effectively takes tender love and care. If you want to be serious about it (and you should),  don't get the intern to do it on his coffee breaks. Here are the five most common mistakes to avoid when building and managing your social media empire:

1. Acting Without a Plan

Planning is important. Imagine if football teams ran plays without planning ahead - sure it'd work sometimes, but long run? Not a good idea. Same goes for social media. Define what your goals are and map out how you're going to get there. Here are 7 quick steps to create a social media strategy

2. Thinking Size Matters

The amount of Twitter followers you have doesn't matter. Anyone can go on eBay and buy 5,000 followers for $__.__ but it won't do a thing for your business aside from feeding your ego with glamor metrics. Thousands of followers may look good on your trophy case, but if they're not quality leads it's a waste of time and money. Only go after followers that count. Once you have a high quality following then engage your audience with topical and interesting content, thoughtful questions, and relevant industry news. 1,000 quality followers is more powerful than 50,000 spambots. 

3. Spreading Yourself Thin

Pick the three or four platforms most utilized by your customers and focus on those. It's better to be awesome at only a few social media sites then be simply "ok" at all of them. Most online stores will get the greatest benefit from focusing their efforts to Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. If you're a B2B company you'll also want to give LinkedIn some attention. 

4. Ignoring the Competition

Some say that knowing what you're up against is half the battle. I wouldn't go that far, but it's undoubtedly important to have a good understanding of what the other players in your game are doing. Keep an eye on what your competition is up to by regularly visiting their website, reading their press releases and frequenting their social media sites. You'd be surprised how much you can learn from the good things they do, and (perhaps more importantly) you can learn a lot from their mistakes.

5. Not Looking in the Mirror

Take a good look at yourself. Monitoring your progress will help you to focus on things that actually move the needle. If something doesn't work, change it. HootSuite  is the most popular social media dashboard that allows you to manage and measure your social networks. It's good for any sized company (even if it's just one person), and offers a basic plan that's free. If you're looking for more basic social stats, you can also check out: 

  • Topsy: Easy to use social stats. 
  • Sharedcount Super basic social share counter.