Here, GM of community management agency Quiip, Julie Delaforce, offers her sage advice on how online community managers can earn themselves a breather over the festive period…
Ahhh, that deep sigh out as you realise the Christmas break is within reach. It’s been a long year, we know you’ve worked hard, you really deserve a break! Uh oh, your online community isn’t taking a break and that means that a community manager’s work is never done. That doesn’t mean you should be working through Christmas though, here are some tips to manage your online community over the holidays.
Plan for holiday cover
People are out in force at shopping centres, and they’re just as busy shopping online. People have high expectations about receiving prompt responses to their social media customer service questions and the added pressure to have the right gift at the right time increases that expectation. That’s not to mention the post-Christmas return and refund process as well as spending gift vouchers and money at end of year sales. Make sure you plan ahead and have the right resourcing around.
Share the workload
Community and social media managers are often part of a greater marketing, digital or communications team. To ensure you’re not on alert 24/7 at Christmas, and throughout the year, ensure you have some guidelines written for managing your community and mitigating risks and create a roster of cover involving your other team members.
Plan for personal crisis
Additionally, the holidays can be a hard time for many people due to financial stress, family and relationship difficulties or simply the overwhelming feeling that another year is almost done and you’re not sure what you have to show for it. No matter what sort of brand or industry you work on, if you’ve built a sense of community online, people may disclose their personal crises to you. This could include the critical issue of someone feeling suicidal or high risks such as self-harming, mental health issues and being the victim of violence, abuse or harassment.
This is where some robust governance will help you. You can use the following approach to manage these situations:
- Identify – monitor your page regularly and be able to recognise the signs of personal crisis
- Acknowledge – respond by mirroring what the person has said and showing you understand that it’s a hard time of year and a rough situation for them
- Empathise – use language that shows you relate to the person as a fellow human being, assure them they’re not weak and it’s a brave thing they’ve done, reaching out for help was the right thing to do
- Refer – put the person in touch with the appropriate service
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Qlife: 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732
- Debrief – talk to someone about having managed a personal crisis or do something to de-stress. You could call your EAP (Employee Assistance Program), a friend or mentor or ask for cute kitten gifs from Facebook friends.
Look after numero uno
Community managers are susceptible to burnout whether it’s from managing a crisis, a high volume of activity or simply the day-to-day drama of dealing with people online. An over-burdened, burnt-out community manager is of no use to anyone – your business or your community. If self-care isn’t something you’re familiar with, do yourself a favour and read on. Self-care is any activity that maintains your physiological, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being.
Many people might think of treating themselves as self-care but it’s much bigger than that. It’s about all the big and small things you do every day to take care of yourself such as: eating well, exercising, doing housework, working, participating in hobbies and sports, walking the dog, bathing and much more. Sounds boring, but if you don’t stay on top of those things, your overall health suffers.
You might need some strategies to cope better with busier work and personal commitments too. You can try writing a task list each day to ensure you’re staying on track, using your calendar to schedule your time, including breaks and using one of the myriad meditation or mindfulness apps that can help you to take short, refreshing breaks daily or throughout the day. When you’re under a greater amount of stress than usual, the treat activities are important too. You should absolutely treat yourself to that massage or mani/pedi, have a beer or lunch with a friend or have a bit more down time watching Netflix.
Whatever your plans this Christmas, I wish you and your community a happy and stress-free holiday season.