We get asked a lot of questions this time of year about how businesses should manage their social media accounts over the end of year holidays. These questions generally come from non-retail businesses - retailers, of course, are in full swing and are active on all their other channels at this time of year. But for other businesses, the landscape is different. As employees take time off, and customers shift to holiday activities and retail shopping, there's often a reduction in web and social traffic, as well as community activity.
So, with less traffic, and fewer people to engage, what should you do? In this post I'm going to talk about some options for changing your engagement strategies around the holidays to accommodate work and life realities, and generate better results with less stress.
As noted above, many industries see diminished activity this time of year. Customers are focused on closing out year-end projects, not starting new ones. Resources are also often strained at this time of year. Employees are helping close out their own projects or heading out for vacation. That means less time to contribute content, or perform other social media and community engagement tasks.
The questions that inevitably come up are:
- If there seems to be a downturn in content being published in my industry, should I continue to curate content?
- If fewer people are engaging, should I publish as much original content?
- Should we change when we publish content? Is there a "holiday publication schedule" we should adopt?
- Should you engage with the community at the same level?
- Should you run campaigns during the holidays if you're not in retail?
- Is there anything that should absolutely remain consistent?
1. Continue to Curate over the Holidays
To rephrase Descartes, "I read, therefore I curate" (I consume therefore curate is probably more accurate, but you get the idea).
If you're doing things right, you're interested in your field, and content curation is simply an extra step tacked on to the end of your own content consumption, then keep doing it. There may be a downturn in activity - especially as the holidays approach - but after being away for a few days, people will come back to consume content.
For many, myself included, catching up on content I've been meaning read is one of the things I look forward to the most. So continue to curate content. Your community members might not get to it right away, but many will sooner or later.
2. It's Okay to Post Less Frequently
It's okay to post less frequently over the holidays. There usually isn't as much fresh content available, and your audience will be distracted holiday activities.
Here at CarverTC, we reduce the amount of curated content by about 1/3 during the two weeks at the end of the year. We also take this opportunity to re-share some of the most popular content we've curated.
3. Continue to Publish Original Content
For all the reasons mentioned above, you should continue to publish original content. Each organization is different - if you publish a lot of original content, it's probably okay to reduce the amount of original content published over the holidays. We publish one piece per week during the holidays, down from two pieces per week during the rest of the year (and we get the content done well ahead of the holidays).
Here's some additional advice:
- Bump up content creation early (like October or November) to make sure you have original content to cover the holidays.
- If you don't have content and are having difficulty getting your authors to create content, consider updating and re-releasing previous articles.
- Do a year-in-review. Republish one piece of content each day over the holidays as a retrospective of issues, successes, or some other theme. This strategy can help you grow followers and get some amazing traction.
As always, while you can create content in advance and automate when it's published, you need to have someone monitoring your social media channels to respond to comments.
You could also consider doubling your standard response policy for the holiday period (for example, extending a one business day response time requirement to two business days). Just make sure someone is tasked with monitoring and responding to comments. Social media is about being social after all.
4. Adjust Your Publication Schedules
If, for any of the reasons noted, you're doing less content posting, adjust the times during the day when you publish content.
We're a B2B business, so during the holiday season we see more engagement early in the day, and less late in the day - people are coming in early, working, then checking out a little early. Because of this, we move our publication times to early in the morning, through early in the afternoon, leaving evenings free. We publish our original content in the morning to catch people during their work hours.
What should you do? Look at your analytics. Analyze engagement trends to see when your community is online and engaging. Also look at content consumption and engagement stats for the Thanksgiving holiday - those stats can provide you some insights for optimizing your end of year content schedules.
5. Maintain Community Engagement at the Same Levels as Non Holidays
If you're social media resource constrained and have to cut some things down, reduce content before reducing customer engagement.
Social media is about relationships - connections and engagement are key. No single social media approach does more to raise sentiment than being responsive.
Thank people. Respond to comments. Address customer service issues promptly. Even with all the year-end craziness, your community managers need to support their communities.
Set up a fair and flexible schedule for your community managers so your team can remain engaged, responsive and positive.
6. Continue Monitoring and Analyzing Analytics Data
Continue to review analytics data and information during the holidays at your regular daily or weekly intervals (which I hope is weekly at a minimum).
At the very least, look at your analytics just after the holidays. You might uncover insights that help you refine your holiday publishing schedule. You also might find that engagement has increased across some segments due to changes you've made.
Not only will this information help you get the most reach during the holidays, you may gain insights that help you increase reach after the holidays as well.