A 'novel' experience for Facebook Messenger
Real-time engagement within your community is always ideal, so when possible you should certainly hand the reins over to another community manager, social media strategist or community member you trust. If you are fortunate enough to take this route, there are two important steps to take. First, leave the individual with a set of instructions – a cheat sheet of sorts – to guide them in their interactions. For example, point them to particular members of your community who should be noted (don’t forget the trolls!), a response database for handling common inquiries, and note any times of day that are especially high in interaction. Second, and most important, queue up this person’s arrival with your community by sending a Tweet, writing a short blog post, posting a Facebook status, drafting an email – or any other relevant way – that introduces the individual who will be chatting with them for the next few days). This is especially important for managing expectations of your community members, so they are aware if responses are slower than usual or even conveyed in a different tone of voice.
But perhaps having a backup community manager isn’t an option for you – and you’re not comfortable just letting everything slow down for a period of time. Here are some tips for avoiding a dormant community in your days off:
Use Scheduling Tools
Depending on what platforms you’re managing, Hootsuite is a great tool for scheduling content in advance, especially on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (though there are also scheduling options for Foursquare, MySpace, WordPress and mixi). Using your community’s guiding content principles, be sure to schedule content to post that will still be relevant and useful to your community when it posts. The Facebook’s new scheduling tool for Pages also allows you to schedule posts right within the platform – and some actually argue that it’s better for your Edgerank, too. Just make sure you have someone on deck to handle responses should users engage with the content you’re sharing!
Automate Some of the Regular Processes
This is a great tip to keep in mind even when you’re in the office, but to save some catch up time for when you’re back from vacation, you can automate some of your usual community management or social media management tasks. Use a service like IFTTT (If This, Then That) to take some of the day-to-day to-dos out of your hands. For example, set up a configuration to automatically save images uploaded to your Facebook page to save on Dropbox, or tweet out a new RSS feed item. More tips here.
Get Your Editorial Calendar in Order
If you have a long lead time to plan for your vacation, you have a great opportunity to strategically plan your blog or other social media content in advance. Use your vacation as an opportunity to get creative with existing content – are there old posts you could queue up in a new way, or group together to make a list post? Could you share a post that features a roundup of links that would be useful to your community? Or better yet, could you identify a handful of guest bloggers to handle crafting unique content while you’re out? WordPress’ timestamp option also makes it easy to schedule posts to publish while you’re away.
When in Doubt, Go Mobile
If you’ve exhausted all of your options and are committed to real-time engagement only, there are always apps! Facebook recently released a handy page manager app for the iPhone; Hootsuite and Tweetdeck have great mobile apps for monitoring Twitter on-the-go; and LinkedIn, WordPress and Google+ also have nicely designed mobile apps. (Just don’t forget, you’re on vacation so try to schedule some time to step away from the mobile!)
Photo credit: Flickr user Question_Everything.