10 Tips for Coordinating Social Care During the Holidays

When the average person thinks about the holidays, I imagine these images come to  mind: turkey, family, John McClane, candy canes, wrapping paper, and lots of vacation time. But a social media manager is not the average person.

Before coming to Spredfast, I spent two years managing community and social for a large technology retailer. As you can imagine, my Novembers and Decembers were extremely busy. I managed communities through crises, live events, and product launches in prior roles, but nothing came close to the stress (and excitement) of responding to people  unable to secure popular Black Friday offers or with concerns over shipping times.

So what works? Preparation. Your brand has probably nailed down your holiday campaigns, from offers, to creative, to paid strategy. It's important to be prepared and organized when it comes to your social care plan for the season.

Here's a last minute checklist to make sure you have everything you need for the biggest social care season of the year. Bonus: it’s jam-packed with input from some of our Spredfast employees who know Black Friday all too well.

1.   Be comfortable with your voice.

Your team will be responding quickly to people in, let’s say, a variety of moods. Some people will be full of holiday cheer and some will be Grinches. But even in real-time, you have to stay committed to your voice and tone.

Related: Own Your Brand Voice with Lessons from your Favorite Shows

Our senior strategist, Christina Trapolino, shares this tip, “remember that social care is not just customer service, it's also PR and branding. A higher volume of conversations should not become an excuse for employees to go off brand by taking shortcuts (like copying and pasting the same canned responses to multiple customers).” If your team needs some refreshing, set up time to review close to the holidays.

2.   Dust off the ol’ crisis management processes.

Don’t have a crisis plan already in place? Now is the exact time to create one. Existing processes ready to go? Give it a little facelift before the holidays arrive. As Christina says, “may you never have to use it.” But if you reach a scenario where it’s necessary, you’ll be glad you had it ready to go.

Related: Bad News Travels Fast in Social: A Framework for Social Issues Management

3.   Put your team together.

Maybe you have one official community manager, maybe you have a huge, dedicated social care team. One thing is certain: one person cannot handle this on his or her own. Identify a team for responding, a team for escalating and gathering information, and someone in charge who is empowered to make spur-of-the-moment decisions without needing to loop in every person under the sun.

Traci Mazurek, our content strategist, points out that you should have adequate day-of/onsite moderation, as well as overnight resources, and ensure that everyone on the team is clear on their role and the escalation process prior to kickoff.

4.   Stop, collaborate and listen.

Your team shouldn’t stop with marketing. During a period where customer service is crucial, consider setting up a system for a real-time liaison between care and marketing over the full Black Friday weekend.

Our Executive Director of Strategic Markets suggests that a command center or shared dashboard would ensure that social campaigns are in tune with customer conversations and that the two are working hand in hand. No need to reinvent the wheel—if your customer care team has the best information, tap into their group.

5.   Staff up(?)

What gaps do you need to fill? Christina recommends hiring temp or part-time help to deal with excess volume. If you do this, you must be willing to invest in proper training and coaching on tools, voice, and processes. Keep a seasoned employee on deck to answer questions as they come up.

6.   Act it out.

Planning shouldn’t just stop at putting together a slew of Google docs. Brands should run simulations for various emergency scenarios over Black Friday weekend. The past few years have shown what those scenarios could be: server outages, in-store riots, site crashing, wider system failures such as hacking. Have all team members who will be working shifts participate.

7.   Be fast, but also be smart.

When handling the response over this busy weekend, you’ll definitely feel the pressure to resolve everything as fast as humanly possible. Resolution time is always an important metric and being prepared should help you reduce those response times, even though your volume is high. But quality matters too! If responses are unhelpful, they’re useless, no matter how fast they are.

Related: 8 Tips to Reduce Social Customer Care Response Times

8.   Have an FAQ document.

Write. Everything. Down. It never fails to amaze me how easily information gets lost or misinterpreted when communicated casually and/or verbally. Work with your team to come up with anticipated questions and document all of your info in an easy-to-reference place: your offers, shipping times, important links. Don’t forget to reference your important processes, coverage schedule, and team contact information in these documents too.

9.   Take care and have fun.

I’ve covered some fairly serious stuff in this post: crises, staffing, response times. Don’t forget—we’re talking about the holidays too. Be sure to take care of yourself, get sleep, enjoy time with your family, and don’t stress. Preparing this far ahead of time will help alleviate some of that stress, but know that it’s important prioritize your mental and physical health during such a demanding time. You should also have fun with your holiday messaging.

Related: 10 Bright Ideas for Social Marketers

10.   Don’t nog and Tweet.

This should be self-explanatory.

Don’t let all of this advice wear down your holiday spirit. Need inspiration? Read how Brooks Brothers went beyond social care with surprise and delight for a very special person.


Laura Baker's picture

Laura Baker

Laura is the Senior Manager of Digital Strategy, leading strategy and analytics for Spredfast's digital channels. A Kansas City native, Laura loves barbecue, Jayhawks, Boulevard Beer and Bo Jackson. In her free time, Laura trains dogs at a local animal rescue, writes for a classic movie review blog and tweets (frequently) at @SnackMantis.