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by Jennifer Lumba | June 09, 2015
Summer is upon us, which means it's time to take a break from school, work, and yes, social media, too. Surely that sounds easier to do than it actually is -- especially if you're a marketing person in charge of a brand. Yet everyone needs time off. The good news? Unplugging from the social media feeds doesn't have to permanently derail your engagement efforts. Here are 10 things you can do to keep your network feeling loved while you're away:

1. Be open. There's no shame in taking a vacation. Let your network know when you'll be away -- and if you're comfortable, where you're headed -- and when you'll be back. Also, announce your break several times. Chances are, your best contacts will be online at vastly different times of the day.

2. Set expectations early. If you're really going to take a break, let your network that you won't be responding to tweets, posts, emails, or any other communications while you're out of the office. And then make good on that promise.

3. Prioritize.
Social media is like an endless well. Drink enough to get your fill and you'll be fine; drink too much and you'll drown. Don't attempt to tackle all your social media chores all at once while attempting to get out the door. Prioritize a handful of must-dos to handle and then move on.

4. Develop a policy manual.
Total brand silence during your break isn't desirable. Have a manual on hand that explains your social media policy and offers guidance on what requires a response. Identify a small team of social media-savvy fill-ins who can field these minor requests while you're away.

5. Assign a proxy.
What if your company depends on social channels for a large portion of its sales leads? In that case, it's likely not enough to have a manual and a few enterprising fill-ins to field requests while you're away. Take the time to train a proxy who'll be your go-to whenever you're out for an extended period.

6. Involve your network. Y
ou don't need to be a serial over-sharer to involve your network in your planned vacation. Rather than providing details of where you're headed or what you'll do, share what you'll be thinking about. Is there a particularly troubling issue facing your industry? Let your network know you'll be thinking about it and ask for reading recommendations for when you're away.

7. Be mindful.
While you don't want to be overly sensitive, no one really wants to see pictures of your boozing and partying on the beach while they're stuck at their desks. Set filters for sharing the details of your time away with only those who've asked for them.

8. Reset expectations.
You've already set expectations for what it'll be like when you're out. What about when you return? What should your network expect from you when you're back? If you said you'd be thinking about a big problem plaguing the industry -- or one plaguing your company, or a friend, whatever -- be prepared to give an update when you're back.

9. Use tools! Yes, you'll be out and unplugged. But that doesn't mean your social feeds have to remain dormant. Use tools such as Buffer or HootSuite to broadcast "greatest hits" posts that's a fit for your audience, and include a teaser. Something like, "A present for when I'm away" and then include the subtitle and link. It doesn't have to be big, just something to remind your contacts that you're thinking of them.

10. Respect the relationships. When used well, social media helps to build long-term relationships. Respect that. Don't just dump photos and go on about the great meals you ate. Instead, ask how your contacts spent their time while you were away. Is business still going well? Are any congratulations in order? This isn't just about you.

Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions. Built on state-of-the-art technology, Rideau's employee recognition and customer loyalty programs change the way companies recognize employee service and achievement, reward individual and team performance, strengthen customer relationships, and create brand loyalty. Lumba can be reached at jenniferlumba@rideau.com.