7 Tips for Taking a Vacation as a Social Media Manager
When social media is a part of your job, it can be hard to disconnect and actually take a vacation. It’s just the nature of the job—whether you’re a team of one or 15!
But it’s that very same “always on” mentality that makes taking a vacation especially important for your mental health. You need time to unwind, unplug, and you deserve to just take a break sometimes so you can come back to work refreshed and re-inspired.
However, recognizing why you need time off is only half of it. Now you need to make it happen!
Thankfully, it’s possible to schedule social media content before you go, but that’s only half of it. Here are 7 tips for what to do before, during, and after your vacation as a social media manager:
Before Your Vacation
Whether you’re on vacation for two days or two weeks, you need to prepare your team and your community for your absence!
Social Media Vacation Tip #1: Schedule Your Content and Other Materials
When you’re just a few weeks out from your vacation, check in with the rest of your team to discuss the upcoming marketing campaigns and other happenings that might affect your strategy and content plan.
Once you have the full picture, start scheduling every piece of content that needs to go live while you’re away—or even better, prepare that plus two additional days of content on the backend. This will give you and your team a nice buffer in case you run into flight issues or any other hiccups.
Plus even if nothing goes wrong, it’s nice to return to work without having to worry about what you’re posting that day.
If you have time, consider drafting a one-pager that covers everything from your general schedule and posting times, the tools you use for posting and Instagram analytics, basic community management processes, and anything else related to your social media for business. Not only will this put you at ease that things are being handled properly, but your team will also appreciate the easy reference guide while you’re away on your social media vacation.
Social Media Vacation Tip #2: Onboard Your Temporary “You”
With your social content prepped and scheduled, it’s time to onboard a team member who will handle things while you’re away. Even if you work within a larger team, it’s important to identify a “point person” who can handle any questions or emergencies while you’re out of the office.
If you currently operate as a team of one, don’t stress too much about who you select—by this point, you’ve already done most of the heavy lifting!
It’s easy to schedule content for Facebook and Twitter, but Instagram is a bit more complicated. Instagram doesn’t allow apps to automatically post for you, so if you want to unplug completely on your vacation, you’ll need to enlist the help of a co-worker to “post” to Instagram for you.
Later makes it easy for you to plan your feed, write your captions, and schedule posts – all you have to do is open the push notification that is sent at posting time, hit “paste” in the caption field, and then click “share” on Instagram. It’s so easy to use that you can add a team member or hand over your Later account to anyone with a smartphone!
When you’re about a week out from your vacation, set aside some time to go through everything your team member needs to know, including your content plan, how your Instagram marketing tools work, and the one-pager you made. Give them plenty of time to ask questions and schedule another meeting a few days before you leave to make sure they feel comfortable and prepared.
If you have a big marketing campaign coming up, or you’re planning to be gone for more than a couple weeks, consider bringing on a contract worker to handle things while you’re away.
Freelance social media consultant Margot Stephenson took that route after realizing she needed a more sustainable work-life balance. For her, hiring a contract worker meant she could fully enjoy her vacation and come back recharged. “I’d rather insist on…month-long vacations and continue this creative work I love, than burn-out quickly, struggle to find new ideas and get frustrated with the work,” she says. “[And] if I hire someone to cover my time while I’m on vacation, I always make sure they have enough background and training to really takeover the work in a seamless way.”
Social Media Vacation Tip #3: Create an Emergency Plan
Try as you might, there’s always a chance that things will go wrong while you’re away. That’s why it’s important to put everyone—including yourself—at ease by creating an emergency plan.
Ideally, your plan should cover a) what counts as an emergency, b) who should be notified and when, and c) how you should be notified should the issue escalate (for example, a text or email with “SOCIAL EMERGENCY” in the subject line, or whatever works for you and your team).
Review the plan with all stakeholders and make sure everyone is in agreement before you depart so you can take your social media vacation knowing things are running smoothly.
During Your Vacation
You’ve put in the extra work and made all the necessary preparation. Now’s the time to take your vacation and enjoy it!
Social Media Vacation Tip #4: Try to Unplug Completely
As someone who works in social media for business, it can be very difficult to unplug completely (aka no posting, no reading comments on your business’ Instagram account, and no checking in with your team). However, it’s worth putting in the extra effort, especially if you’ve been feeling stressed or exhausted lately.
Start off easy by removing any chat apps from your phone like Google Hangouts or Slack, and then work your way up to removing your work email account or signing out of Instagram.
If you find yourself feeling tempted, it might be a good idea to completely remove all social media apps for the duration of your trip. One social media director I spoke with told me how he ended up deleting all of his apps after a particularly stressful work period. “My mindset with the break was that I needed to unplug and relax as much as I could,” he said. “I couldn’t go without a phone because I needed Maps to get around on my trip abroad, but this let me enjoy the trip for me. I was snapping pictures for me and not for the ‘Gram.”
Social Media Vacation Tip #5: If You Can’t Unplug, Set Rules for Yourself
Even if you can’t completely detach from your social media for business, it’s still possible to take the break you so desperately need. The key to this is setting boundaries!
Jeff Meltz, social media manager for Sony, sets specific rules for himself as to when and how he can check-in while on vacation. “There are thin walls up between stepping fully away and staying on top of things,” he says. “For myself, having specific check-in times and making sure that the team knows how to properly escalate things to me means that nothing gets missed.”
Like Jeff, consider checking in once per day at a set time—but make sure to set a time limit for yourself! Otherwise you run the risk of falling into a void of endless emails. You also need to remind yourself that if it’s an emergency—a real emergency—your team members know how to get ahold of you. All of your emails and comments will still be waiting for you when you return.
After Your Vacation
Now that you’re feeling refreshed, creatively energized, and ready to go back to work, it’s time to slowly re-introduce yourself.
Social Media Vacation Tip #6: Settle Back Into Your Routine
As difficult as it might be, you need to resist the urge to wake up on your first day back and begin checking emails at 6am. You took a vacation for a reason, remember? Plus you already prepared a few extra days of content before you left!
You want to bring your recharged and relaxed energy back to the office, so don’t overextend yourself by rushing into it.
Social Media Vacation Tip #7: Regroup With Your Point Person
Once you’ve settled in, read a few emails, and had your first cup of post-vacation coffee, it’s important to check back in with your point person to see how things went. They acted as your eyes and ears while you were away, so use this opportunity to get debriefed on how things went and if any serious things went down that you need to know about.
You might also want to discuss your process and if things can be improved for your next vacation. But most important of all, thank them for their hard work and helping you take the time off you needed! It wouldn’t hurt to try and offer them the same coverage the next time they’re due for a vacation.
Working in social media for business often requires you to be accountable 24/7. But this is exactly why should take time off when you need it! It’s crucial for your health, your happiness, and your creativity. And all it takes is a little preparation and a supportive team to get you there!
Ready to get moving with your Instagram marketing strategy? Later makes it easy for you to plan, manage, and schedule your Instagram posts!