When it is used properly, social media can be a gold mine for businesses. Conversely, when social media is not used properly, your brand’s reputation could be damaged. Like many tools, social media is a double-edged sword. Its effectiveness is dependent on how its wielded.

In order to use social media for business in the right ways, there are many common pitfalls to avoid. Here are five mistakes that can ruin your brand’s reputation:

1. Not Being Consistent

If you run a hotel, your online brand is the “personality” of your specific property. In that regard, your brand should have good social skills. We all have that one friend or relative we never hear from until they need something, and then they might pester us constantly. Many brands engage in this same type of behavior on social media.

Remember, the purpose of social media is not primarily to sell your services, it is to build relationships with your clients and consumers.

Also keep in mind the phrase “out of sight, out of mind.” Post regularly at appropriate intervals. Don’t wait until the off season when you are desperate for guests to inundate people’s news feeds with offers. You can use a scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to make sure you have steady, regular posts. That said, don’t overdo it. Posting too often each day can numb people to your content.

2. Not Responding To Complaints

Between January 2014 and May 2015, there was an eight-fold increase in the number of people using social media to lodge a complaint. Those number only continue to rise. In addition, 42% of consumers that use social media to complain expect a response within 60 minutes. 32% of them expect a response within 30 minutes.

Perhaps a huge part of the reason so many users take to social media to complain is that it creates a make-or-break situation. Handle it well, and you stand to gain even more loyalty from current clientele. You may also gain a significant foothold with future guests. Fail to handle it well, and you can potentially kiss both some of your current loyal guests and future business goodbye.

3. Failure To Interact

In today’s business world, brands don’t just have clients, guests or customers, they have a following. When guests visit your properties, your staff should interact with them in a courteous, friendly manner. The same thing should happen on social media. Social media also offers you the opportunity to create a loyalty program: provide exclusive offers to your biggest and best brand ambassadors.

However, be careful not to get focused on your best brand ambassadors. Don’t forget about the “little people.” Everyone that posts on your social media outlets deserve a response and you will gain the most loyal following by being gracious. Once again, the best behaviors in life also tend to be some of the best behaviors on social media. The better the hospitality you show on social media, the more likely people are to respect you.

4. Neglecting Proper Security Protocols

Data theft is not the only thing that can wreak havoc on your brand. A cyber-attack can create just as much devastation to your brand as stolen personal information. It is important to safeguard your social media accounts in a number of ways. These include using strong passwords and ensuring computers are protect by antivirus and antimalware software.

It’s also critical to educate your social media managers about the importance of never using public Wi-Fi to log into social media accounts. If they absolutely must use public Wi-Fi for some reason, make sure they have access to a VPN service of some kind.

5. Focusing On Sales Rather Than Relationship Building

Keep in mind the difference between sales and marketing. Generally, marketing gets people in the door. Sales happens after you get them in the door.

Things work a bit differently in the hospitality industry since people purchase your service before they walk in the door. But, the point is, you should not be using social media to just constantly sell. Use it to educate guests about the area or other details relevant to their travels. If you establish yourself as a knowledgeable and caring brand leader, they will want to stay with you when they leave home.

In Conclusion

The most important thing to ask yourself is, how you would feel about a person posting the way you post for your brand? To create a good strategy for social media, think of some of the most gracious people you know, and try to emulate their behaviors online. After all, a gracious brand will be a gracious host.

Author Bio: Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.