June 21 marked the first official day of summer and we couldn’t be more excited! The summer season brings warm weather, longer days, and well-deserved time off. For micro and small businesses, though, summer vacations can feel impossible. Small business owners feel conflicted about being away as it has real implications on the business. Yet on flip side, they’re working around the clock and need a vacation. On top of that, social never sleeps so allowing your social presence to dwindle while away isn’t an option.
Instead of denying yourself a vacation (or two) this summer, employ these three tactics for automating your social media and step away from your business for much-needed relaxation.
Be transparent and provide advance notice to your customers
The great thing about vacations is you usually plan them in advance, which means you have ample time to notify your customers about your time off. A benefit of being a small business is that you have direct contact with your customers and can easily communicate with them. Put up messages on your website, social profiles, and send out a series of emails to your clients with the relevant information so they can anticipate your time off.
This is a considerate way to inform them of upcoming changes while giving them enough time to request your products or services before you are away. Setting expectations indicates to your customers that you have their needs in mind and don’t want to surprise them in any way while you are away. Your clients will welcome the transparency and be more forgiving of a short-term change in user experience with your business.
Schedule your social and blog posts ahead of time
Part of being on vacation is disconnecting in some regard. While most people cannot completely turn off their mobile devices, automating your social posts is a great way to disconnect without losing momentum in your social world. There are numerous programs available that automate your posts and eliminate any need to post in real-time. Our friends at Pagemodo offer a superb social media management tool that is perfect for micro and small businesses. It allows you to post in advance so you can go on vacation without a worry. However if you already use another tool, utilize it to the fullest so everything you want to post is scheduled across all media channels prior to your vacation.
There are three key considerations you must iron out before you start scheduling your posts:
Establish a consistent posting schedule – your audience is used to a certain posting cadence, so either replicate your normal posting schedule or create a revised vacation-mode schedule that mimics your everyday posting habits. If you want to post less per day, align your posts with specific times your audience is familiar with. For example, if you post to Facebook at 9am, 12pm, 3pm, and 9pm each day, and you’re reducing your posts while away, post at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm each day. Audiences need consistency and by avoiding gaps in your social presence, you will remain a reliable information source for your audience.
Choose your content – considering that no one is actively managing your social while you’re away, posting evergreen content is highly suggested. Evergreen content contains industry-related topics that are not seasonal or time-sensitive and have long-standing applicability to your customers. Repurposing content is a recommended practice and evergreen content is exactly what you should repost. Invaluable guides, best practices, and how-to articles are always relevant and consumers like reading these kinds of posts. Your original content was thoughtfully researched and written, so why not make the most of it by publishing those pieces again for further education and enjoyment?
Evergreen content is also great to post while away because it is not as likely to create comments that warrant immediate responses because the information is not sensational, of-the-moment, or shocking. Not sure which articles to repost? Use Google Analytics or other social media insights to see which articles, posts, and topics received the highest interaction rates. Your audience will find these topics useful without producing an online conversation that needs your attention.
Set up a Plan B in case of emergency – despite your best efforts to set up a flawless social presence while away, someone will need your assistance and it could be an urgent matter. Be prepared for these worst-case scenarios by establishing a customer service back up plan so those inquiries can be handled in a timely way.
If you have a partner or another employee to lean on, designate that person as the point of contact during your vacation time. Communicate their name, contact information and availability to your customers so they know who to ask for you in your absence. This information can be sent in an email or posted as a message on your website landing page.
If you’re a team of one, a virtual assistant can manage urgent customer needs. A big consideration is that it takes some time to onboard a person; so if possible, begin a relationship with your freelance assistant well in advance of your vacation date. With the extra time, the person can learn the ins-and-outs of your business and can provide the level of customer service that your business is known for, even in your absence. An interim employee who embodies your business’s values is worth the hourly rate so you can relax while away.
If bringing on a virtual assistant or freelance employee just isn’t in your budget, ask a trusted colleague who is in the same or relevant industry to take the lead while you’re away. You can barter your time and services and repay them while they are on vacation. This is a cost-effective way to leave your business is trustworthy hands without depleting your financial resources.
Make the most of mobile apps
As mentioned before, some people can’t completely unplug while away. If this is the case for you, download your preferred social media management mobile app to your smartphone or tablet. This way you can easily oversee your various social channels from one app, and respond to any unexpected issues. Having the ability to get a pulse on your social traffic without lugging your laptop around bestows a sense of control and relief, and helps you enjoy your holiday.
A little preparation goes a long way when it comes to automating your social media. Take these necessary steps to give customers a flawless experience while you give yourself a break.
About the Author: Julie Chomiak is the Content Marketing Specialist for Webs and Pagemodo. When she’s not scouring the web for small business trends, Julie loves traveling, interior design, and animals of all kinds. Get more from Julie on the Webs Blog and the Pagemodo blog.