social-media-promotion|Photo Courtesy ofDepositphotos.com small businesses hold off on social media because they’re worried about making mistakes in an unfamiliar environment. Don’t let that obstacle stand in the way of using social media to build your company’s brand, reach new prospects, and nurture client relationships.

Here are four do’s and don’ts for using social media to promote your small business.

Do: Choose the social media networks most applicable to your customers and prospects. For example, if your company offers professional services, try starting with business-to-business communication tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter. For business-to-consumer communication, Facebook and Twitter are good choices, while Pinterest may work best with visual, design-focused industries like retail, fashion, décor and food.

Don’t: Decide to just go on Facebook because that seems like the easiest social network to use. Don’t shy away from what’s right for your business. Take the time to figure out where your clients are and start by focusing there.

Do: Use social media for proactive communication with existing clients and in pursuing prospects. Depending on your business, you might consider making regular how-to videos for YouTube as a way to begin a dialogue about your services or products.

Don’t: Limit your participation to responding to negative comments about your company or project.

Do: Post regularly to your social media accounts and blog. Choose a consistent, feasible schedule, whether that’s once per week or once a day. Fresh content and consistent volume tends to boost your company’s rankings with search engines. Using Google+ as one of your social media tools can also help in this regard because Google emphasizes Google+ content in its results.

Don’t: Try to wing it without an actual plan. Entropy and busy periods will kill your momentum. Make a schedule you can live with.

Do: Remember that email is still a great marketing tool. People have work and personal email addresses and they check them regularly. Tools like Constant Contact can help you cross-promote an email newsletter with social media.

Don’t: Be a spammer. Allow people to choose how frequently they receive email messages from you and make sure they can easily opt-out at any time.

Everyone makes errors. It’s how you handle a faux pas that matters. For something minor, people won’t care, just as long as you fix it. For example, if your tweet was too long and got cut off, or your link was invalid, just correct it and put it back out there. On the other hand, if you accidentally posted an offensive comment, you might want to issue a public apology. Social media lives online forever, so if you’re going to spend the time doing it, it’s worth spending the time to do it right.

We’d love to hear about your experiences getting started with social media. Which of these do’s and don’ts have you found most relevant to your small business? Share your story below in the comments section!