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Social Media Is Always On, Should Your Brand Be?

The internet never takes a break. There’s always someone online, and, more often than not, it’s quite a few someones. When you’re job is to manage a social media presence for a major brand, it can be hard to know exactly where to draw the line between work and the rest of your life. Especially when your work can be quite easily taken with you out of the office, to your home, or anywhere else for that matter, all in the compact, portable, ubiquitous package that is your phone. So, since social media is very clearly always on, the question begs: Should your brand be always on, too?

If your brand has the resources to effectively provide night/weekend/holiday coverage (see here our post on the benefits of the lattermost) that extends beyond standard business hours, then this is undoubtedly the best option for your brand. Never will your audience be disappointed that you replied to their comment or question too punctually. It can only strengthen advocacy toward your brand and, in turn, build up your brand as an exemplar of social media etiquette.

If your brand simply can’t manage to execute this type of always on coverage (which is the case more often than not), then there are still a few guidelines to follow to ensure that your brand is best represented, despite the occasional offline hiatus.

  • Transparency
    • It’s best to be clear with your audience about when you are and are not going to be actively available to them. To do this, simply list your normal coverage hours on your pages, in the account bio, say. Your audience can immediately see that you’ve shared this information, and, in turn, will hopefully be more understanding in the event that they message you during offline hours and wait to receive a response.
  • Punctuality
    • Whatever your operational window might be, it’s very important that you are as attentive as possible during these online hours. Coverage shouldn’t be a matter of “getting around to it”, but rather a top priority to which you devote genuine and concerted efforts. Setting a response time for your brand can be an effective way of ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks, so to speak. Whether you have the resources and confidence to declare (internally, of course) that audience engagement will be responded to within 60 minutes, 30 minutes, or even 15 minutes, if you’re feeling bold, settling on a threshold can be helpful in preventing delayed or bungled interactions.
  • Consistency
    • Being clear and timely is vital to good engagement from your brand, but if these measures aren’t reliably and uniformly executed, then your brand’s efforts may be for naught. Deviation from your designated coverage hours or declared response time will serve only to frustrate and, ultimately, disengage your audience. Even if the office is granted a half day on a summer Friday, it’s in your brand’s best interest to see to it that coverage of brand channels is maintained through the end of your regular online coverage hours.
  • Humility
    • Finally, it’s important to try and see things from the perspective of a member of your audience and be sympathetic to, or at least appreciative of, the situation in which he or she might find themselves. Say you get a message that comes in after hours on a Friday, and your brand has decided that weekend coverage is out of the question. This comment will go unanswered until you’re back in the office on Monday, leaving your hypothetical audience member without a reply for over 48 hours. All this is simply to say that, in this or a similar event, thank the individual for his or her patience, or even go so far as to apologize for the delay, and see if they’re not just a little more gracious for your having done so.

In short, social media is most definitely always on, there’s no doubt about that. And, if at all possible, your brand should be, too. However, we know that everyone has a life outside of work, and so, if night/weekend/holiday coverage isn’t an option, then following these guidelines is a good way to prevent issue and ensure quality in your engagements, whenever they may be.

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