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ARTICLE MarketingDecember 3, 2015

Four smart ways to manage social media during holidays

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Many businesses take a well-deserved holiday during the Christmas period, but they also worry about their social media pages going silent while they are away. If you want to keep your social media profiles fresh and updated while you are away soaking in the sun, read on for expert tips.

Christmas holidays are just around the corner, and so is the time for businesses to take a break. But for many businesses a vacation raises the eternal question: who will update the company’s social media pages during the holidays?

The answer to this question, according to Hugh Stephens, Director of Dialogue Consulting, is that “it depends on the business itself”.

He explains, “If the company is closed, a message saying ‘We are off for the holidays and will be back on . Have a great Christmas & Happy New Year’, is fine because most consumers understand that SMBs have to take time off eventually!”

However, if your business requires social engagement during the holiday period, then here are a few expert solutions.

Pre-schedule content, but keep monitoring

“It’s easy to pre-schedule your content so that you can ‘act’ like you’re not away – this can be a good move if you’re still otherwise operational. For example, if you are an e-commerce store you might schedule content for the week you’re closed, as the site will keep taking orders.”

But, Stephens cautions, “As is the case with any type of scheduling, this doesn’t necessarily abdicate your responsibility to keep an eye on things and respond when you can. It looks bad to have a series of complaints without any acknowledgement while the business continues to push out updates. So, it’s a balance you have to choose yourself.”

Always respond on social media

Social media is a business’s first chance at showing that it cares about its existing and potential customers. For this reason, businesses should strive to respond to any queries on social media in a timely manner.

Stephens offers a tip for handling difficult queries: “Sometimes you won’t have or know the answer immediately. That’s okay, and people will understand. But you should still respond by acknowledging the customer’s question/concern and telling them that you need to get some more information and will follow it up.”

“There’s a difference between this strategy and just buying time – my advice has always been that if you can solve the issue within five minutes, solve it then. If you aren’t going to be able to help them (for example, they’re insisting on a refund, which you won’t provide), don’t try and buy time and hope that they’ll forget – be clear about your reasons and practice some (respectful) tough love. It’s better than the hope that they’ll just forget about it”, he adds.

So before you pack your bags, here are four simple yet effective ways to update your company’s social media during the holidays.

Pre-scheduling content. Almost every social media management tool (and even Facebook directly) will let you schedule updates to go out at a particular time and day. This can be great if your business can support it (see above), but also means that people will expect you to be there to respond.

Keep posting live. Thanks to the mobile interface of many management tools, you can just keep posting and “keep an eye” on things by checking in once or twice a day. This means you don’t get a break though, and it can become quite frustrating to not be able to just take a holiday. It’s certainly an option though if you typically don’t get too many enquiries/questions/complaints and you’re happy to spend 15–20 minutes a day. A good combination is pre-scheduling content and then checking in every day to see if anyone has been in touch, so you don’t have to think about the content every day as well!

Hire someone to babysit. It’s possible to hire someone to look after your social accounts for a week, several weeks or a month. While it will usually be a bit more expensive than hiring someone to manage it on an ongoing basis, they can post any “holding statements” necessary and alert you if there is some kind of disaster that they need your input on. They can push out your content, too, or you can pre-schedule the content.

Let things go quiet (but tell people you’re doing so). It’s okay to let things be quiet over a holiday, just make sure you let people know! Most customers of SMBs know that they don’t have teams of people who they can hand the reins over to while they take a break, so they’ll be quite understanding. Just make sure it’s clear that you’re on a break and let people know when you’ll be back by putting out a message on the day that you leave, and another when you come back.

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