Now that we’re well into the era of B2B on social media, a lot of business-minded companies are seeing their competition building communities and creating marketing value with a robust social media presence. And as these brands begin to recognize the value, they are starting to put their own community management programs into place.

For a few marketers, this is great news. They’re out there making connections, communicating with customers and prospects, generating positive sentiment for their brands and building their audience numbers.

But before you jump in, here’s a surprise: The most common way B2B brands go wrong on social media is actually by being too cautious. Here’s an example.

Company WXYZ decides it’s time to get social. Reasonably, they determine that LinkedIn looks like the smartest option for a business-oriented company. They start by setting up a well-written, well-optimized company page and begin posting updates, including thought-leadership pieces, technology articles and videos. Great so far.

What happens next is not as positive.

1. They don’t generate new content.

WXYZ’s content library quickly dries up after their existing articles and videos are posted, and no time or budget is allocated towards blogging or other new content creation.

The marketing team decides not to curate and share other people’s relevant content. “We don’t want to support other companies on our page,” they say.

Their company page ends up looking more self-promotional than informative. Visitors who land there have no interest in becoming followers. Potential audience – including those who might share content or become loyal customers and advocates – is lost.

2. They overlook employee advocacy.

Personnel receive no training or guidelines about optimizing their profiles. Many of them have no profile at all, while others don’t link to the company page. Others are poorly written, lack keywords, etc. WXYZ’s page rank suffers, both within LinkedIn and in Google and other search engines.

Personnel are not encouraged or coached to become brand advocates. A huge opportunity for sharing and engagement is lost. Most of the content that does get posted on LinkedIn is never shared by employees and goes unseen by potential community members.

3. They don’t populate any other channels.

WXYZ declines to create a Twitter profile, Facebook page or other social channel, reasoning that there are too many opportunities for time-wasting chatter or mistakes. The opportunity to capitalize on vast communities and to share LinkedIn posts on other platforms is lost.

A remote sales manager uses a version of the company name for their Twitter handle. The account is mostly dormant except for occasional photos of the sales team at trade shows. Company customers and prospects who search for WXYZ on Twitter see only this stream, which holds no value or interest for them – and they don’t follow, engage or share any of their own content.

4. They leave the social element off their owned properties.

Without a blog or high-value downloadable content on their website, and lacking social channels to drive website visits, growth of WXYZ’s audience database is slow. Outbound marketing and email programs deliver very few new leads, and opt-outs shrink the lists almost as fast as they grow.

Does any of this sound familiar? It’s a story that’s happening all too often – showing that no social presence at all can be better than a presence which is sporadic and poorly managed.

There’s so much opportunity right now, especially for non-visual and commercial brands who may be the first in their industry to establish a strong presence on social media.

Your customers are already there. Go surprise them!