For many PR pros, the summer months are a time of year when things slow down—just slightly, of course. However, when it comes to managing your brand's social media presence, you’ve got to stick with it. And that takes time and commitment from your staff, regardless of when they're fleeing the office for vacation.
The following steps can provide, at the very least, a baseline for consumer engagement while enabling brands to be active on social networks every day—even when half the staff is at the beach.
Map out your team's remaining summer vacation schedule: Find out when you will be severely limited in manpower. Whether it's just a couple days or a full week, it's better to know in advance exactly when someone will need to pick up the slack.
Repackage: Not all tweets have to die after their first use. Take a look back at whichever platform you use for monitoring your social statistics which earn the most replies, favorites or retweets, and repackage it. Be honest—if it's a piece of content from your Web site, don't change the date and act as if it's new. Preface it as a classic piece or however you'd like, but just be transparent.
Schedule in advance: For the days when even a skeletal staff becomes a non-existent one, schedule social media activity in advance. Facebook finally launched a post-scheduling feature on May 31, and HootSuite already offers scheduling functionality—these are tools all communicators should leverage on weekends overnight as well.
Highlight others: A brand should position itself as both a thought leader and as a must-follow resource within its industry, not just as a one-way portal to its own site. If you find yourself as the only one manning your brand's multiple feeds and short of things to post, fill the void with relevant pieces from other thought leaders in your industry—even if they are competitor—and provide some context and your own take on it. You may even see them return the favor in the future.
Provide added customer service: Consider hosting a chat on Twitter around a hashtag, or on your brand's Facebook page. Assuming the person in the office is comfortable and knowledgeable enough with the brand—which they should be if they're managing social media in the first place—open up the floor for additional discussion and real-time chatter to provide your followers with responses to questions, comments and concerns. Not only will you make your audience feel more engaged, but you're keeping your brand's social pulse beating.
Planning ahead on social media takes some foresight, fresh content and common sense. It’s not recommended to set updates very far in advance (consider how your scheduled lighthearted, fun Friday post might look when it gets published on a day when the stock market crashes), but strategizing in advance and scheduling posts can prevent a page from going stagnant during vacation periods.
Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg