Truth and Lies ButtonsFor a business of any size, it’s difficult to escape the constant recommendations about online marketing. If you want to reach customers, they say, you have to use social media. Set up accounts on Twitter and Facebook and business will explode.

Unfortunately for too many small businesses, this isn’t the reality. They fall into the social media trap, thinking that they can’t go wrong as long as they have accounts set up. In fact, having a social media presence can be worse than no presence at all if it takes an entrepreneur in the wrong direction. Here are four reasons some small businesses fail at social media.

They Don’t Have Time

Once a social media account is set up and a business begins promoting it, the pressure is on. If all you do is blast out marketing messages to your followers, you’ll lose them quickly. Instead, you should start uploading interesting content that helps customers connect with your brand. This takes time—a commodity most small businesses have in short supply. Soon enough, customers visit a page, only to find it hasn’t been updated in months. This makes a brand look outdated and out of touch, making a worse impression than if there were no social media presence at all.

It Doesn’t Add Value

A social media presence should complement your brand, giving it a personality and providing a forum for communicating with customers. Some small business pages seem to have no real purpose behind them, clearly existing solely because the business owner thought he should have an online presence. When a customer visits your Facebook page or sees your tweets, it should provide something he can’t learn through a simple Google search. Your social media presence should include a call to action that either helps you sell products on your online store lures people into your brick-and-mortar locations.

They Don’t Have a Strategy

Like all of your marketing campaigns, your social media marketing efforts should be planned in advance. Major promotional posts should be posted in conjunction with big events, such as new product releases or big events.  You should also take advantage of tools like Facebook’s Page Insights and Twitter Analytics to track your campaigns and determine which actions were most successful. You can then prepare yourself to expertly plan future campaigns.

They Don’t Have the Knowledge

There is a slight learning curve associated with using social media, but there is a substantial learning curve for social media marketing. While you don’t have to be an expert to get started, be prepared to spend time trying different strategies and reworking your approach multiple times. You may even benefit from following other brands for a while and noting how they do things. Decide whether you’re prepared to put that amount of work into building your brand on Facebook or Twitter before you start.

Successful social marketing requires a commitment, so be sure you’re prepared to follow through on that commitment on a daily basis. Otherwise, you’ll become one of the many social media sites that have stale content and an amateurish online presence.