As more and more people rely on social networks as their go-to source of information and recommendations, social media is an increasingly powerful way for small business owners to promote their brand and connect with potential clients or consumers.

But, visibility can be a double-edged sword — if you make a careless spelling error, or accidentally confuse your personal and company profiles, you may be exposing that mistake to the wrong set of fans. This can make social media intimidating. So, it’s no surprise that many small businesses stay away, preferring to avoid the risk of making a damaging mistake and forego the potential benefits of social media as a marketing and sales tool.

The reality is – we all make mistakes from time to time on social media. Knowing about the potential pitfalls in advance may help you to avoid them, and correct them quickly if they occur. As a general guideline, applying the basic rules of etiquette you would use in person or in your professional communications will help keep you safe.

Below are 5 mistakes people commonly make, as well as tips on how to fix or avoid them:

1. Forgetting to spellcheck
Making a spelling mistake isn’t a big deal, but if your post is riddled with misspellings, your audience may think you’re unprofessional. Or, they may think, if you were in too much of a hurry to proofread your post, you’re too busy to provide them with the level of service they expect. So, take the time to spellcheck. As an added note of caution – if you’re posting from a mobile device and your keyboard has predictive text, spellcheck may not be enough – my tip is to read what you wrote out loud. That usually reveals sentences spelled correctly but out of context.
2. Overusing the hashtag
Including hashtags (#) in your posts can help people find your post and may help to boost engagement… but only if the hashtag is relevant to the information you’re sharing. Adding a trending hashtag to your post may get your post noticed, but if your content is completely unrelated to the hashtag, all that does is alienate your audience. Keep the hashtags to a maximum of two, no matter how relevant they are.

3. Saying too much
In an ADD world, most people will decide within the first few words if the post is worth reading all the way through. Keeping your content short, interesting and to the point lets your audience know that you value their time and that you have the information they are looking for. Include relevant and compelling imagery for added value.

4. Posting the wrong things
It goes without saying that, when posting to your social media page, it’s always better to do so when your judgment is not impaired. What may be less obvious is that there are lots of situations or circumstances — other than having one too many drinks – when your thinking may not be as clear as you’d like it to be. For instance, if you’re exhausted, or if you’re feeling emotional about something else, it might be a good idea to avoid posting anything until you’re feeling more like your usual self.

5. Posting things at the wrong time
Even the most valuable and interesting piece of content ever, don’t post it or tweet it at 4 am. You want to be active when people are actually online and when they are open to receiving your information. Just as you wouldn’t want to interrupt someone during dinner and wake them up with a phone call, you don’t want your posts to feel like an intrusion. Although the best times to post will vary depending on what platform you’re using and who you’re talking to, recent studies show that engagement rates for both Facebook and Twitter are highest at the end of the week and on the weekends. As you post more, you’ll be able to see when your audience is most active, but if you’re just getting started, posting on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays may be your safest bet.

Social media is an increasingly valuable and cost effective marketing tool that every small business should take advantage of. Don’t be intimidated by the things that can go wrong, but put your best foot forward by using social media responsibly!