Small businesses are starting to come to grips with various social media properties like Facebook and Twitter, and are beginning to use them to communicate with their customers. But there are a lot of things that can go wrong with it comes to social media in business.

Here are four common traps small businesses fall into when they are getting started with social media, and how to avoid them.

1. Number Obsession

If you’re jumping into social media, you want people to “like” your Facebook page or “follow” you on Twitter. This is normal. The problem is when businesses get so focused on the numbers that they forget why they opened the channel in the first place.

I have seen posts to Facebook and tweets that are simply pleas to like or follow a small business. The one element they forget is perhaps the most simple — Why? Tell me why I should like your business page or follow your Twitter account, don’t just expect me to do it because you asked me to. For example, “Follow us on Twitter for some great recipe ideas” or “Like us on Facebook for some great discounts” are much more compelling messages than simply “Like us on Facebook.”

2. Radio Silence

Once you have an audience liking you or following you, you need to give them a reason to keep in touch. The numbers mean nothing if those people aren’t doing something with your business. Whether that is spreading the word for you, doing business with you or sending you referrals. To get them to take action you have to give them a reason to do so. They have to come back and read what you are posting.

3. No Interaction

I recently came across a product called FanCam. It’s basically a webcam/photo capture tool embedded at various locations. For example, a coffee shop in Wichita, KS has the device directly linked to their Facebook page. Every time someone takes a picture with the device, it is posted to their Facebook wall. This is instant content and people love seeing their pictures online. The people taking the pictures have been given a good reason to interact with and produce content for the coffee shop – it’s fun!

4. Forgetting the Power of the Share

Once you have people following you on various social media sites, and you’re posting great content or giving them an opportunity to create their own, you want to encourage them to share it. Make your own content compelling, ask opinions, ask your audience to get other opinions. Have polls, run competitions based on reach, and don’t forget to tell your audience that they can share your content with their own networks. Sometimes all it takes is a reminder to spread the word.

I tell audiences repeatedly that the three elements of great social content are Fun, Repeatability and Shareability. With these three elements in place your audience has all the reasons they need to be engaged with you.