Everywhere I turn, I hear about how fantastic social media is. People tell me they are spending six hours a day on Facebook. They are responding to Twitter tweets all day and all night.

Facebook’s 350 million users collectively spend more than 8 billion minutes on the site each day. That’s amazing.

Many of these people think that social media will help them grow their businesses. They expect to make tons of money by using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as marketing tools.

But the truth is that the vast majority of people are NOT making money with social media and are just wasting their time.

That leaves a very big question. What are they doing wrong?

To get you on the path of profitable social media use, I have identified the top six ways businesspeople are wasting their time with social media. For each time waster, I have included some ways to fix it immediately.

Here they are:

TIME WASTER #1

Many people think that being on social media is, in itself, a business model. They just go out and start building a following. That’s a good thing — but you still need a separate, comprehensive business model. And you need to know how you are going to make money with it.

ACTION STEPS TO FIX IT

  • Identify the exact product or service you want to sell through social media.
  • Define, in detail, your target audience. Who is your ideal customer?
  • Develop a system to close sales on the phone, on the Web, or face to face.

TIME WASTER #2

Another mistake people make is that they don’t have a strategy for using social media to achieve specific business goals.

ACTION STEPS TO FIX IT

  • Identify your top three goals with social media (i.e., to generate leads, to find partners, to solidify current business relationships).
  • Identify time frames for achieving these goals.

TIME WASTER #3

Another mistake is using the wrong tool. Some businesses work better on LinkedIn, some are better on Facebook, and some are better on Twitter.

ACTION STEPS TO FIX IT

  • Get familiar with all of the major social media websites.
  • Contact your customers or prospects and ask them which one of these websites they visit most frequently.

TIME WASTER #4

Yet another mistake: Social media abuse. You are making too many posts, sending too many messages, and ignoring standard social networking etiquette. You need to know the rules, and you need to follow them.

ACTION STEPS TO FIX IT

  • Learn the rules of the particular site you are on. For example, Facebook can ban you for posting unauthorized commercial communications.
  • Learn the limitations of the site you are on. For example, Twitter limits the number of direct messages you can send to 250 a day.

TIME WASTER #5

The next mistake is something I call social media fatigue. You are spending too much time on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn — not all of it business-related. And you get burned out.

ACTION STEPS TO FIX IT

  • Put a time limit on your daily social media activities.
  • Limit most of that time to activities that could generate business for you.

TIME WASTER #6

Are you failing to measure the results of your marketing efforts on social media websites? If so, you don’t know what’s working.

ACTION STEPS TO FIX IT

  • Set very specific measurable goals. For example, you might want to get five new prospects a week and turn one of them into a new customer.
  • Start measuring your results — and keep refining your strategy until you get it right.

One of the best examples of an individual who profited from social media is Gary Vaynerchuk, the star of Wine Library TV. Gary effectively leveraged the power of social media to explode the profits of his family’s wine business. He developed a Twitter following of more than 800,000 people and used his following, his blog, and his videos to skyrocket the business from $4 million a year to $60 million year in only five years.

Gary Vaynerchuk clearly focused on the right ways to grow his business with social media and avoided the top six social media time wasters.

If you keep these time wasters in mind while developing your social media strategy, you’ll be on your way to repeating his success.

[Ed. Note: David Riklan is the president and founder of Self Improvement Online, Inc., a leading provider of self-improvement and personal growth information on the Internet. His company, founded in 1998, operates one of the top self-improvement websites, http://www.selfgrowth.com, getting over 1 million visitors a month.

David’s company also publishes e-mail newsletters that reach over 950,000 weekly subscribers on the topics of self-improvement, natural health, personal growth, relationships, home business, sales skills, and brain improvement. He is the creator of Social Media University and has a personal network of over 100,000 people through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.]