How to Manage Your Online Community over the Holidays to Avoid the Headache
Dec 2, 2015
When holidays are on the horizon, community managers don’t always get the luxury of switching off under the demand of 24-hour online communities. However, it’s is essential for community managers to take some well-earned downtime.
But how can community managers leave their community during the break? It’s completely possible – but some planning needs to happen to that the community isn’t left in the dark and that the community manager isn’t pulled in from their holiday.
The questions that we need to ask before the holiday break: will my community be locked? Will it be public but unmoderated? Or do I just check in on it occasionally?
Below are a few of the things to consider when planning how you can manage your social media accounts over the holiday period.
How To Manage Your Social Media Accounts Over The Holidays…
Updated Operating Hours
Many corporations have a compulsory shutdown over public holidays – this means that no-one is in the office to maintain and monitor media accounts.
Some businesses post a notice on their Facebook page or pin a post letting people know that the moderators are on a limited schedule and will be less available over that time.
If you’re going to pin a post about limited moderation, you could say:
Hi guys, surf is up and we’re going on a break! We’ll be available occasionally to answer questions, but we’ll be back on deck January 17th! Have a safe holiday!
Using this method, most businesses don’t mention how often they will be available, because that sets the expectation with the community that they will be contactable across the break – and it forces the community manager to clock in even on their time off. Keep it vague to that both parties pays off as communities members will either resolve the issue themselves, wait til after the break, or if it’s urgent, attempt to escalate.
If you’re checking in occasionally, this might just be once a week, or once a day, depending on how busy and active your community is. If you’re going to Thailand and you’re not going to be available at all… well, maybe look for a plan b (we’ve got plenty of these below!).
Larger organisations might want to suggest pointing queries to a FAQs page. If you do have any staff still available over the break; you could also add an email address for people to contact in case of emergencies.
Add your FAQs link to your Facebook tab and pin a post pointing to it at the top of the page. For the few days leading into a long break like Christmas, reduce your community management hours and point to the FAQs document to let regulars know that that s where to look for key answers over the next few weeks!
While you might check your page on a daily basis, you don’t want to set the expectation that you are monitoring the page each day and that the community can expect answers from you each day. Resist posting unless it’s an emergency.
The community will self-moderate, especially if you’re away just for a few days! If you’ve got FAQs up, this is a great help, especially for community members to share with each other.
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If your community has trusted superusers, you could ask them to keep an eye on the community and to escalate any issues to you. They could email you with any crucial issues they see (and if you’re not checking your work email, you could auto forward messages from your superuser to SMS or somewhere you will check!).
Arm your superusers with the information they need so they’re not feeling unsupported – whether it’s FAQs, links to commonly requested sources or just the official date you’ll be back. And don’t forget to send them a little thank you gift!
Lock the wall
Some communities are so large and active, that the only way they see to manage the Facebook community over the long breaks is to just lock their Facebook wall.
Again, pin a post so that the community know it’s just temporary and that your community will be up and running again soon!
Remember that locking the wall just means that people can’t post organically on the Page wall – they can still comment on existing threads, so still be prepared to answer comments on those threads, but at least the conversation will be more manageable!
If you don’t want to shut down your community, but you do want to go on holiday, then grab a community manager for hire!
There are heaps of companies (like Quiip) that have experienced community managers who can support you over holiday breaks.
Hopefully you’ve already got an Issue Escalation Plan in place, but it’s useful to review the plan before any breaks or holidays.
Find out which of the escalation contacts will be available, or unavailable throughout the break. If someone isn’t around over the break, find out who the next best contact is to raise certain issues with. It’s also worth reviewing who will be checking their work emails, or who would prefer a personal call to resolve any issues.
Many community managers still schedule posts for throughout the break. Two things to keep in mind if you’re scheduling posts is that a) you look like you’re an active account, and b) you’re inviting conversation.
Consider reducing the posts you push out, and post content that is less likely to invite conversation. For example, a link to a non-controversial listicticle is less likely to encourage comments but more likely to encourage clickthroughs.
What’s your plan of attack for the holidays?
What is your organisation considering over the next holiday break? Any one approach, or a mix of all of them?
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About Rachel Beaney
Rachel Beaney is an Australian freelance social media specialist with over a decade in digital media. She’s worked with global names like Microsoft, Samsung, News Corp and General Assembly, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping clients solve their business needs with creative and data-driven solutions. Get in touch today to jump on a free consultation call to find out how Rachel can help you.
Rachel Beaney is a digital media specialist from Sydney, Australia, with a wide variety of experience in creating multimedia projects, social media and online content. Read more.
In her spare time, she creates rad clay animation.
Follow her on Twitter at @beaney.
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