There’s not a handbook of social networking rules for media pros to follow. But there are proven ways to increase your followers and fans while showing your audience you’re an authority in the media industry.

Social Networking Rule #1: Stop the Constant Sales Pitches

Offer content beyond a blatant sales pitch. If you’re using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or other social networking platforms just to sell, sell, sell, your followers will quickly grow wise that you’re wasting their time.

Give them something other than a tease to buy or watch something.

Yes, you can promote your brand across social media but pepper in other useful content so you’re not cluttering timelines with updates that are going to be tuned out and eventually lead to your audience’s departure.

Create a social media policy for your staff that lays out a specific plan of what you expect in your social media efforts. Everyone has to be on the same page because the social media audience isn’t very forgiving of the missteps.

Social Networking Rule #2: Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Many people try to use social media only to their advantage not taking into account their disadvantages and risks. In this case, you should investigate the pluses and minuses of social media for society to be sure that you don’t offend anybody with your content. Besides, it can help you avoid abuse and fraud used by your competitors.

Social Networking Rule #3: Get Involved in the Conversation

Using social media sites and not interacting with others defeats the purpose of having an account in the first place. Ask questions. Start conversations. Talk to your audience. Share their updates that are interesting to you with your own audience.

Also check to see what your Twitter followers, Facebook fans, or those in your Google+ circles are saying to you. Don’t ignore those messages. Get involved and stay involved to raise awareness of your personal or company brand.

Social Networking Rule #4: Add Personality to Your Updates

If all you’re doing with social media is repeating the same corporate message from your website, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with your users on a personal level.

Post updates that show you’re a human, not a robot spitting out the mission statement.

There’s a fine line between being personable and stepping across the line, though. That leads us to the next rule.

Social Networking Rule #5: Be Professional

Keep your social media posts professional, whether you’re representing yourself as a media pro or managing social media on behalf of your employer. Sharing a picture of yourself getting drunk at the local bar through your personal social media account or lashing out at a viewer through your employer’s social media account could be equally damaging. Both could get you fired.

Social Networking Rule #6: Network

Build a network through your social media platforms. Use a social media strategy to connect to other related media entities, media pros, and important people in your city.

Network to show you are a brand your audience can trust. Network to show people there’s a reason they should be following you.