By now, you understand the importance of social media for your business. It helps you connect with customers, improve customer service, generate sales leads, and so much more. But during the holidays, social media may feel like more of a nuisance than a useful marketing tool.

These 5 tips for managing your social media over the holidays will make sure you can have your eggnog and drink it too.

Analyze past campaigns and set new goals.

Before you start automating anything, take a look at past campaigns to see what did and didn’t work. Identify prior KPIs, learn the results, and determine what type of content performed best. Next, set clear, measureable, and relevant goals.

For goal-setting strategies for social media, check out this blog by Buffer.

Choose the best platforms.

Believe it or not, having a presence on every social media platform can do more harm than good. Spreading yourself too thin could result in an inconsistent posting schedule, missed engagements, and poor audience targeting. Instead, focus on the platforms that will have the biggest impact on the results of your campaigns, have performed best in the past, and are most likely to be where your audience is spending their time.

For tips on choosing the appropriate social media platforms for your business, check out this blog by Kissmetrics.

Curate your posts.

Determining what to post is just as important as determining where you’ll post it. When curating your posts, employ the 80/20 Rule, remember to use engaging visuals, and remain positive.

  • With the 80/20 Rule, 80% of your content can be fun, entertaining, and non-intrusive with 20% asking for something in return, like a sale or a visit to your website. The 80% should be shareable and interesting. The 20% should feature a strong and persuasive Call-to-Action.
  • While 100% of your content should be image-driven on Instagram and Pinterest, you shouldn’t neglect photos or graphics on other platforms. In fact, images spark an 87% engagement rate from fans. Even if you lack the skills or resources to manually create graphics, there are many free tools for creating and improving social media images to use instead.
  • In addition to posting attention grabbing, value-add content, remember to always remain positive during the holiday season. Positive content increases your shareability and follower count – especially when your audience is filled with holiday cheer!

For tips on testing images and other A/B tests on social media, check out this blog by Hootsuite.

Schedule and automate.

Automating your social media over the holidays will save you time and stress. It will make it possible for your business to remain active while you enjoy your own holiday festivities. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite allow you to manage multiple social streams in one convenient location, have extensions that let you schedule and share directly from your browser, and help you determine the best posting schedule to remain consistent.

While social media automation will be vital to your holiday social media plan, there are several items you should not automate:

  • Engagements: Whenever someone engages with your content, whether by commenting or replying, always respond in real-time. Do not schedule these interactions via a third party application. Doing so will be a missed opportunity for building relationships with your community.
  • Facebook posts: This may sound counter-intuitive, but it is not recommended to use a third party application for pre-scheduled Facebook posts. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pre-schedule your posts (you absolutely should), but instead you should use the native Facebook scheduler. This will prevent any third party publishing tag becoming visible to your audience.
  • Direct Messages: You’ve likely seen brands send automated direct messages to new followers – do not automate these! The effect is lazy and impersonal, and there are far better ways to connect with your followers.

Even though the majority of your posts will be automated, it’s best to periodically check engagements and notifications, ensure your posts are publishing correctly, and manage any paid initiatives.

For tips on using the native Facebook scheduler, check out these best practices by Facebook.

Provide superior customer service.

Sixty-seven percent of social media users have contacted a brand via social for support. With stellar customer service, you can increase sales, encourage repeat customers, and motivate referrals during the busiest selling period of the year.

To effectively track mentions of your company on social, first enable customized notifications on your mobile device. With these, you’ll determine which actions are most important for your immediate attention (like mentions) and which actions can wait (like new followers). Next, track keywords, hashtags, reviews, and check-ins for user-generated feedback and inquiries. Tools like SocialMention aggregate this information into a single stream to easily track and measure mentions.

For positive engagements, keep your tone friendly and upbeat. For negative engagements, try to move the conversation off of social media as soon as possible by offering a support telephone number or email address.

For inspiration from brands that totally rock on social media, check this out.

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Use these tips to effectively manage your social media over the holidays – and beyond – and reap the rewards of automation!