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Five tips for getting holiday cover for social media right

31 July 2014 | 08:12 am

The summer holidays are with us, bringing with them a raft of ‘holiday cover’ in social media departments across the UK.  There are many upsides for the holiday makers; not only do they get to have a rest and recharge their batteries for a while, but those who step in to the realm of ‘I’ll keep an eye on things while you are away’ territory, will soon realise that although they may mock the social media team for having the easy job of sending out 140 characters, in reality it is a lot more time intensive, challenging and stressful than first glance.

As a result, it is a time of heightened risk for brand reputations, as inexperience and a lack of technical prowess takes over; where key messages get diluted or worse, completely overlooked and the monthly analytics take a nose dive.

Emma Jones a marketing exec at one local authority shares her experience:

“When one of my social media officers went off on holiday, I stepped in to cover.  I felt that it was a great opportunity for me to gain an appreciation of the work that the social media team do. I thought that I would easily manage it alongside my own role at what should have been a relatively quiet time of the year for the department.

“I was surprised at just how time consuming it was.  I would head down one path with content, to be then distracted by another that I thought was more relevant.  The result was too much content posted out over a short period of time and a lack of focus.   The plan said to post between 5-8 tweets a day but I found in over enthusiasm that I averaged around 15 messages.  I also hadn’t appreciated the lag time for some messages to take hold, so I would over zealously promote a message because I didn’t think it was having impact, only to discover that I had over cooked it when RT’s came in two days later."

So what can the social media team do to ensure that holiday cover is a success?

1) Plan campaigns:  the summer is not the time to be launching ‘the next big thing’ in terms of campaigns. ROI can be impacted negatively by an inexperienced team or valuable time wasted as they get up to speed with what has gone on before.

2) Be clear on objectives: sometimes a new and possibly over enthusiastic pair of tweeting eyes can send a campaign completely ‘out of kilter’.  It is really important to reinforce the purpose of your social media efforts.  Is it about driving visitors to your website? Or brand positioning? Or linking to strategic partners, or perhaps a combination of the above?

3) Bank content: it is a tall order to expect a ‘cover’ to not only to get quickly up to speed on the posting of content, or the process of managing customer enquiries, in addition to commissioning and creating content! Many of our clients store up content (for rainy days) – the stuff that isn’t time sensitive but of interest to the audience.  So give your ‘cover’ a break and a sensible head start with some good quality, well thought through content.

4) Management system access: do not share your passwords! With a little bit of planning they should become authentic registered users to ensure that you maintain an audit trail of who posted what and when in addition to any customer service responses made by the cover in case there is any come back further down the line.

5) Risk assess the cover options:  deciding who will provide cover can be challenging.  On the one hand someone who is very clear on the brand or product could be ideal but may not understand the tactical options of someone from the marketing team.

There are also a number of temp options available, but beware! This field is still relatively new and when a CV states experience with ‘Google Analytics’ ensure it is just that - and not one campaign they once did as a trial.  In our experience recruitment agencies are still getting up to speed on the elements that make a good social media temp.

By putting these steps in place you can ensure that everyone has a great holiday.

CrowdControlHQ helps many organisations to be more effective in managing holiday cover as well as other types of absenteeism. New users can be given their own temporary access to accounts, with a number of authenticating and security options available.  Our wiki area is ideal for storing and sharing best practice with your holiday cover newbies.

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