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How to Manage your Social Media Channels During the Holiday Season

During the holiday season, your office is probably half-empty. It might even be closed for a couple of weeks. While you’re taking a well-deserved break and enjoying the season with your family, your company’s social media channels go quiet.

Social media management during the holiday season is often neglected. With few employees in the office, you have no choice but to scale back your social media posts, and in turn, your shares, likes and social media traction.

With these limited resources, what’s the best approach to managing your social media accounts over Christmas?

Your options

If your business doesn’t get many customers during the holiday season, you probably won’t launch any promotions, brace your servers for a rush in traffic, or hire seasonal employees.

But if your business expects a ton of business during Christmas (say you own a catering business or an e-commerce company) know that December is going to be your slowest month: in terms of support, sales, and manpower. You need a set of tactics that isn’t too heavy on spending to keep your business stable through the month.

Your social media team will no doubt be amongst the employees who’d like to take time off during the holiday season. While other business processes can be postponed during this period, empty social media feeds don’t reflect well on your business – particularly when the silence contrasts with a usually busy feed (irrespective of whether you expect business or not during the season).

There are a number of ways to avoid radio silence on your social media profiles during Christmas, such as:

  • Scheduling new posts and links
  • Scheduling re-posts of older content
  • Scheduling staff to check and update social media channels occasionally during the break

Signing-off on social media channels to announce your absence

Whichever strategy you choose for your social media content, it’s important to inform your followers of the situation. A pinned tweet, Facebook or Linkedin post could be used to explain your social media arrangements.

It could be something like this:

“The social media team will be away from the office from December 23-26. If you have any urgent queries, please email info@yourcompany.com and we’ll respond ASAP.”

Or…

“Our social media support reps will be taking a break from December 23-26. Happy holidays!”

Here’s a real life example:

Your customers and clients will leave their messages be until you return, and hopefully won’t get mad if they don’t receive an immediate reply.

The pinned post will also explain your social media silence to any prospects who are checking out your social media pages.

Signing-off doesn’t necessarily mean you should ignore your social media feeds entirely during this downtime. Instead, strive to respond to important tweets and messages. The pinned sign-off merely explains your inactivity to any curious onlookers and clients who ask non-urgent questions via social media during this time.

Scheduling content

Many brands choose to schedule content to fill their feeds when their social media managers are absent.

Given the widespread availability of social media scheduling and content curation apps such as DrumUp, it’s easier than ever to schedule posts days, weeks, or even months in advance.

This approach keeps your brand appearing on the feeds of your followers even when your employees are enjoying their holidays, an important advantage in staying on top of potential customers’ minds. It lets you share timely, seasonal content without having to make your social media manager work while on vacation.

However, scheduling content is not without its risks. We’ve all heard of social media disasters and embarrassments that were caused by unfortunately scheduled posts.

Remember Joan Rivers promoting the new iPhone? The post went out over a week after she died.

Another example involved UK fashion retailer Dorothy Perkins, which tweeted a cheery #FridayFeeling post – the morning the country found out the result of the Brexit referendum. Almost half the country certainly did not have that Friday feeling.

Still, thousands (if not millions) of scheduled posts go out on social media channels every day, and few of them raise an eyebrow.

Here are some tips for scheduling social media posts that won’t embarrass you. You don’t have to follow these tips to the letter – they’ll just give you some useful guidelines to follow if you’re new to scheduling content.

1. Never schedule messages or replies, only posts. Social media posts don’t require direct interaction with individual followers, so they are much easier to schedule. Automated messages to new followers are increasingly seen as spam, and auto-replies will only frustrate recipients.
2. Double check post relevancy. When scheduling dozens of social media posts at a time, it’s all too easy to slip up and confuse dates and content. It’s vital to double check post content once you’ve drafted your posts to ensure it’s relevant on the day it’s published. Ideally, have another employee check for errors – a fresh pair of eyes is more likely to notice mistakes.
3. Don’t schedule anything remotely controversial. You won’t have the staff on hand to respond to any angry comments on your posts during the holiday season, so play it safe. Try to schedule content that’s evergreen and doesn’t mention a specific person in the headline. This might sound OTT (Over The Top), but imagine the headline gently joked about a celebrity, and in the time between when your post was scheduled and its publication the celebrity was caught up in a car crash. It wouldn’t look good. If your brand relies on edgy commentary, have someone double check posts right before they’re published.
4. Maintain a diverse feed. Schedule a mix of posts: your content, curated content, images, GIFs, videos, links and so on. Don’t let your feed become boring!

We highly recommend curating content to publish when your social media managers are away. Here’s why…

Curated vs. original content

It’s likely that you won’t be able to post new blog content or too many original social media posts while your editorial team is away.

Step forward, curated content.

Take your pick of the best content shared by brands in related industries, with similar audiences. Build up a bank of this content and schedule posts with links to your favorites.

It’s important not only to double check the article title and wording of your post for relevancy, but also the third-party content itself. You don’t want to accidentally share an article that plugs an event on December 24 on December 26, for example.

Again, tools like DrumUp can help you find the best, most relevant content to share with your followers.

Customer Support

If you use social media to provide customer support, you’ve got another problem. Shutting off this avenue of support queries entirely isn’t likely to be well-received by customers, who may expect you to respond as promptly and thoroughly as you normally do – even during the height of the holiday season.

As we mentioned above, ‘signing off’ can help avoid the majority of support queries, but you’ll still receive some – and a handful of these will be urgent.

Therefore, it might be wise to assign staff to check for urgent messages at regular intervals – perhaps once a day.

Set a schedule in such away for this task so that no-one is on-call for the entire holiday!

We also recommend providing customers with another way to contact your support team during this time, such as an email address or phone number. Remember to stress that your response times won’t be as fast as usual.

Get into the festive spirit

Fail to acknowledge the holidays and your followers will think that you are a Scrooge! Wish your followers happy holidays and perhaps even change your social media profile picture to something festive! GIFs and photos of your team bedecked in Christmas sweaters will also be well-received by your followers.

However, don’t go over the top – some of your followers may not celebrate Christmas and may tire of overbearing festive posts.

Here’s an example of UK retailer John Lewis celebrating the new year on Instagram:

Hello 2016! Happy New Year 🍾

A photo posted by John Lewis (@johnlewisretail) on

Plan ahead

You need to plan and prepare a social media strategy in advance for the holiday season. Even if your office is only closed for a couple of days during this period, any change from the norm is likely to be noticed by your followers. Whether you choose to schedule posts or keep your feed silent, be sure to inform your followers of the situation – and, most importantly, when you’ll return.

Social media managers deserve a break too!

Author bio: Anna Roberts is Head of Content at RotaCloud, a UK-based provider of easy-to-use employee scheduling software. Anna writes about HR, marketing, and small business software on the RotaCloud blog.