This post is part one in a series detailing the Seven Deadly Sins of Social Media Marketing – the biggest mistakes we’ve observed in the social media universe. Download the full white paper here.

Many brands’ failure to plan for social media can prove disastrous for companies big and small. What are the two things you need to consider before you ever get started? We’re so glad you asked.


At Argyle, we base a lot of our product development decisions on our ability to put ourselves in the clients’ shoes. The better we can understand their problems, workflow, aspirations, etc., the better we can build a product that suits their needs.

Through the course of these client interactions, we often hear that it’s hard for social media marketers to find time to think strategically about social media marketing. The typical reason cited is that they’re “just so busy engaging!”

We call this tethering—marketers get so glued to the real-time stream and never step away to look at the bigger picture. It’s hard to keep your eyes on your feet and the horizon at the same time, after all. Altimeter Group Analyst Jeremiah Owyang calls this phenomenon the “social media helpdesk,” which is a great way to describe the result. If you get overwhelmed with customer inquires and become exclusively reactive, you’re officially customer support.

Your job as a social media marketer is not to respond to every tweet and comment you get. Your job is to drive business outcomes—Awareness, Trial, Churn, Hit Rate, Customer Satisfaction, and Loyalty. If you’re being swept away by the stream but don’t know how your efforts are affecting your organization’s bottom line, swim to the nearest bank.


Worry not! With a willing heart (and the right social media tools), repentance is at hand. First, make sure you’re using an enterprise-class social media management system with a social inbox. A good social inbox will save all interactions from customers and prospects so that you can return to your desk and slog through them on your schedule. Throw in email notifications for particularly high-sensitivity keywords and you’ll be on top of things but still able to take a step back.

Once you have the tools lined up, it’s all about breathing. In…out…in…out. Now please, sir, put down that TweetDeck.

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Tempting Fate

Admit it – you’ve pointed and laughed just like the rest of us, delighted with schadenfreude as an iconic brand gets scorched by the social media judge and jury.

And having tempted fate just like the rest of us, what have you done to make sure that your company isn’t the next laughing stock?

The marketers that work for these very large brands are, for the most part, educated, smart professionals with only the best intentions. Sometimes mistakes just happen, often as a function of systems. Someone makes an honest mistake or a snap decision, there aren’t any business controls or feedback loops to provide oversight or corrective actions, and the simple mistake snowballs into a PR-pocalypse-ageddon. Other times, companies suffer foot-in-the-mouth encounters simply because the expectations for employees weren’t set to begin with. This is the same reason we teach children that burners on stoves are hot. Without a little heads up, it’s easy to get burned.

According to Jeremiah Owyang’s recent study, Social readiness: how advanced companies prepare, approximately 76% of social media crises over the past 10 years could have been lessened or completed avoided. How, you might ask? Plan for success from the start.


A social media marketing policy is an easy way to address the “tempting fate” problem. A simple set of guidelines will help prevent mistakes, ensure consistency across your team, and set expectations for what needs to happen in the event of a mistake.

One of our clients – Raleigh, NC-based digital marketing agency Capstrat – has a pretty simple social media policy: Don’t be stupid. Other organizations set up very detailed policies and build complex approval workflows for their social content. The right answer for your organization is probably somewhere in the middle.

An ideal social media marketing policy will clarify:

  • Content guidelines
  • Roles and responsibilities for your team
  • Escalation paths for sales, support, legal, etc.
  • Contingencies in the event of a snafu

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Have you avoided public snafus thanks to a well-planned strategy or social media policy? If so, tell us. We would love to hear more.

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