We’re living in the Wild West days of social media. Uncharted territory all around us, and no rules about how to claim it. Social media connects with an audience in a delightfully invasive way, and it’s totally free to use. It’s a massive gift to any brand.

For a young company, the social stakes are high. Your Twitter or Facebook page may be your first introduction to customers, so you can’t mess it up. Except a lot of brands do mess it up, and badly. Here’s how.

1. Having too many followers

I’m probably committing some serious Twitter sacrilege by saying that, but it’s true. Conventional wisdom dictates the more followers, the better. And that was true, until people started buying their following.

There are plenty of paid services out there that can boost your fans into the millions (using some shady business practices: Google “click farms” if you’re the morbidly curious type.) Having a billion Instagram followers is fun and all, but not when they’re all fake accounts. The real payoff to a large following is being able to utilize it to drive business. Sadly, automated robo-followers will never buy your thing. Even if they’re programmed to retweet it.

2. Having too few followers

No one expects your company’s Instagram page to reach Kardashian levels of fame, but even 50-100 followers adds a healthy dose of legitimacy to your brand. Social media is fiercely democratic; effort gets rewarded. Invest the time, and you’ll build an audience.

Seem too daunting? You don’t have to exist on every social platform. In fact, paring down can be a useful way to focus yourself. Which leads me to…

3. Making too many accounts

Not every brand needs every app. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat—they accomplish totally different things. Focus your energy where your audience actually is. If you’re in the fashion industry, you’ll need a visual platform like Instagram. In the tech sphere, Twitter is king. Invest where your audience lives, and make them listen.

4. Aiming for the viral

Virality involves trace amounts of talent, and a lot more luck. It’s not something you can calculate. By all means, use that funny, weird, or fascinating piece of content to get attention—as long as it has substance. But don’t hinge your success on getting retweeted by millions. People are naturally suspicious of marketing ploys. The more desperate you seem to get #YourBrand to trend, the less likely people are to participate.

5. Stabbing in the dark

This is the most important thing for businesses to understand about social media: nobody understands the medium more than your own followers do. These are users who are so engaged with a given app that they’re following not just friends and family, but their favorite brands. That’s dedication.

Most of your followers won’t be casual users, so frankly, you can’t be one either. You need a strategy, and real creative power. If you can’t handle it in-house, find a creative agency to take the reins. We know a good one.

Next up: 5 ways to beautify your desktop