Social media has become increasingly complicated, and it’s hard to keep on top of best practice.

With so many networks operating independently of each other, audiences are splintered and it can become difficult to identify which network holds the most power for a particular audience or strategy.

But social media is essential to any good digital media plan. As a result, businesses can often make assumptions about content, audiences and best practice. Those assumptions can lead to disaster. Here are nine that can lead any business on the wrong path:

Facebook is still the dominant network for all demographics

While Facebook still maintains a huge portion of the teenage audience in social media, that trend is changing. More young people are heading towards alternative messaging apps, such as SnapChat or WhatsApp. Recently, Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman said last month the company “did see a decrease in daily users, specifically among younger teens”.

While hardly an exodus, it does suggest while younger people are still using Facebook, they may be using it less often. Such a move suggests businesses need to constantly think about the way in which social networks are changing and how they evolve with new users.

Asking open-ended questions to followers is harmless fun

While asking your user base for their opinions on a particular topic is certainly fine, there are still plenty of caveats to keep in mind. Businesses have run into hot water in the past by asking open-ended questions that end up causing controversy or form a catalyst for negative feedback.

While polling content, open-ended questions can result in some great information, but also end up drawing unnecessary criticism. Some discretion is required.

If we publish content, we’ll receive visitors

While publishing content such as blog posts on social media is a good first start, there is an assumption that merely sharing once will boost traffic. Instead, sharing content needs to be done repeatedly – but not too much, and within a long enough time period – and tailored in a way to specific audiences.

Only posting our content is good enough

While distributing content on social media is a fundamental part of a solid strategy, and having conversations with followers is even better, there’s still a gap in the way some users provide information. The value of Twitter is best represented when there is a combination of sharing unique content, and then sharing content from other sources as well.

Creating the best possible Twitter or social media profile is not just about being a source of product, but of information. Users will value a social media account more if it provides interesting links and data they can use and then share themselves.

Social media is just a side venture

There’s a reason why more businesses are hiring full-time social media managers, or are outsourcing the role to agencies designed to handle these types of tasks. Harnessing the right audience on social media involves a huge amount of testing, probing and analysis over visitor and traffic data. Relegating it to a small throw-away role won’t produce any positive results.

We should continue focusing on existing channels

Social media is constantly changing, and focusing on one platform isn’t going to do anyone any good. Instagram didn’t exist two years ago, and now has 75 million active daily users. Snapchat was formed just two years ago and is changing the way Facebook and Twitter create new products and features.

Not paying attention to different social media channels, and ignoring those which grow increasingly popular, can be a recipe for disaster – or just irrelevance.

No ROI means no activity

Part of the problem with integrating social media with sales is so much of the data is erratic. While selling on Twitter one day might produce positive results, doing so on LinkedIn isn’t going to provide much of a return.

But just because there isn’t an ROI – or an easily recordable ROI – doesn’t mean social media isn’t worth it. More social media experts believe ROI in social media is about building the lifetime value of a customer, rather than a specific purchase. For many building an audience is just as important as selling a product, and in any situation, social media forms as an extra point of contact.

We can influence the conversation

Unless your audience is extremely large, it’s unlikely any one business is going to be able to “dominate” the conversation in social media. As a result, creating things like hashtags won’t necessarily gain traction, hut rather participating in conversations and community discussion will carry more weight.

While conversations within a particular audience will generally work and provide feedback  – if done well – attempting to dominate the conversation in the entire Twitter ecosystem will usually end in failure.

The audience represents the entire consumer base

Part of the difficulty in using social media for selling or any sort of customer research is that a following only represents a small part of an entire customer base. When a business only has a few thousand followers, it’s safe to assume those followers will usually consist of a specific demographic. Few businesses have followings worth more than 100,000 people, which is where some quite varied feedback could be expected.

When making business decisions, asking followers on social media to provide their opinion is one useful piece of information. But it’s only one metric. Depending too much on one dataset and assuming the social media audience speaks for all your customers can result in some skewed or biased feedback.

We can talk but not monitor

Having conversations with users on social media is great, but merely talking doesn’t provide a sufficient enough scope. To get the most out of social media, monitoring needs to be a key part of any plan. Setting up searches and watching for any mention – good or bad – isn’t just best practice, it’s practically essential.

Assuming these mentions can go by without any intervention is also assuming they can’t affect users’ views of a particular service or product. Responding to but not controlling these conversations can go a long way.