You’ve almost certainly made a social media mistake in the relatively recent past. Perhaps it even haunts you regularly. Or, maybe you just think back on it in fleeting moments and resolve to never again repeat it. Unfortunately, unless you quit social media cold turkey, you’re fairly likely to make another mistake or two.

As in all other endeavors, preparation is the best defense. When you’re on the lookout for looming social media catastrophes, you’re less likely to experience them.

So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at six social media mistakes you should avoid — and almost certainly can, with a little foresight.

 1.Failing to Do Basic Research on Your Audiences

 You don’t create website content without first conducting basic keyword research. Why would you post to your social media accounts without knowing who you’re trying to reach? You might be surprised by what you learn about your audiences — and about how much you really don’t know.

 2.Getting Too Personal on LinkedIn

 This isn’t really a mistake in and of itself, but publishing personal information can lay the groundwork for some awkward situations if you’re not careful. So make sure you stick to business-related background on LinkedIn, which is the platform’s focus. Need an example of how yours should look? This financial advisor’s LinkedIn profile is a great example of how a professional-grade LinkedIn presence should look: authentic and humanized, but without unnecessary personal detail.

3.Engaging Too Aggressively With Negative Commenters

 Resist the urge to “punch back” on negative social media comments or feedback; nothing good ever comes of this. To the extent that such feedback is warranted and constructive, internalize it and use it to improve your social media presence. Ignore the rest.

 4.The Accidentally Public Direct Message

 This is the social media version of the dreaded accidental reply-all email, which is still distressingly common after all these years. The only sure defense is to triple-check that the message you believe to be private is indeed private. Once the cat is out of the bag, there’s no turning back.

 5.Keeping Things Too “Corporate”

 As we mentioned earlier, getting too personal is usually a mistake, particularly on buttoned-up platforms like LinkedIn. But there may be a risk to an overly anodyne social media presence, too, especially when your brand isn’t inherently “corporate.” Finding that line is important, and it’s different for every user.

 6.Overusing Hashtags

 Keep hashtag use to a minimum. More than two hashtags per post is almost never advisable; there’s a spammy quality to extensive hashtagging that’s really hard to get past.

 Practice Makes Perfect

 Be honest: you’ve made at least one of the social media mistakes on the list above. Precisely how many is a secret you can keep to yourself, if you’re able.

Despite crowings about the inexorable rise of digital natives, no one is born with perfect social media sense. We all face a learning curve on the platforms that give so much meaning to our lives — and so much heartburn besides. How we tackle that curve determines whether we’re able to master the art of personal and professional social media use with relatively little drama, or whether we encounter more serious issues that prompt us to rethink our life choices.