Forget winter: Christmas is coming.
Even if you’ve already organised the gifts, food and family logistics, those running a business have even more to think about. Demand is high, staff members are low, and stress is…well, let’s just say you’ll probably need that break.
The good news is that there’s one thing you can put on autopilot over the holidays, and that’s social media.
Thanks to the rise in easy-to-use automation tools, there’s no need for technical know-how. And, depending on how hands-off you want to be while roasting the turkey, you can customise automation to suit you. Go all in with an entire automated calendar, or just a fun Christmassy auto-response for new followers; it’s entirely up to you.
In this guide, we’ll be covering big and small ways you can use social media to make taking a break over the holiday period that much easier. It might look like more work to do now, but as with any big celebration, preparation is key!
Automatically promote new blog posts
If you have a blog and plan to post some seasonal content there, you can also promote these automatically on social media. WordPress, in particular, makes this easy with loads of plugins that set up automatic updates whenever a blog post goes live. Popular options include Jetpack Publicize and WP AutoSharePost.
Automatically revive old blog posts
Much like the decorations you haul out of storage every year, old blog posts can be brought back to life during the holidays. Seasonal posts often remain relevant for years to come, so why not re-promote them? Revive Old Posts is a neat little WordPress plugin that allows you to do just that, automatically pushing links to ‘evergreen’ posts on social media. This is especially useful if you haven’t had time to create anything new this winter!
Quickly answer Facebook queries
If you get a lot of queries from people via direct message on your Facebook Page, you can kerb some of the questions using the Response Assistant.
This feature allows you to set up 3 saved automated messages for your followers: a welcome message that appears at the start of any new conversation, a blanket auto-response message, and an out-of-hours message, sent when your status is set to ‘Away’.
This is super handy for several reasons:
1. You can let people know essential information, like your opening hours over the holidays
2. You can set expectations for how available or responsive you’ll be
3. You can quickly answer common questions, or link to a support/FAQ guide
4. You can notify customers of seasonal deals or delays
This tutorial from @beebomco gives you step-by-step instructions for setting up the Response Assistant – it’s really simple.
Write social media posts ahead of time
Perhaps the most well-known form of social media automation is post scheduling, which allows you to schedule updates ahead of time. This is particular handy over the holidays, as you can schedule posts at times most people find inconvenient – like, say, post-party on New Year’s Day.
Some simple social media posts you might want to schedule in advance include:
Original seasonal greetings to your followers on Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, etc.
Occasional reminders of seasonal deals, sales, discount codes or competitions.
A smattering of blog posts, articles, videos or other content you’ve created for the occasion.
You can share a variety of text, image or video-based posts, set your own schedule, and tailor it to each channel (not everyone wants the same number of Facebook posts per day as they do tweets!)
Here’s a video tutorial to help you start adding posts to your Buffer queue:
Top tip: create customised, branded images for free using tools like Canva, if you have time – it’ll look much more personal than sharing the other holiday images doing the rounds.
Put your bookmarks to work
Are you a content hoarder? Let’s face it, we all have bookmarked content we haven’t found the time to read. What you may not know about this mini-library, though, is that it’s a great resource for social media automation.
If you have a bunch of interesting content saved in Pocket, Evernote, or other bookmarking tools that your audience would like, you can actually queue this up for sharing automatically. How? Using IFTT or Zapier. Both of these genius tools work by setting up ‘triggers’ that set up a chain reaction: if this, then that. In this case, if a URL gets saved, then it will automatically appear in your social media queue. Depending on the tools you use, you can even set up a specific ‘tag’ to use that will mark an article for sharing (e.g. ‘to share’).
Receive curated content straight to Buffer
If this just seems like too much work, good news! You can automatically post great content that is tailored to your niche using Quuu, no hassle required. We’re a bit biased, but we think it’s a great way to stay active on social media over the holidays hands-free; once set up, it works in the background posting content to your accounts. You can find out more about Quuu here.
Keep your display pics consistent
This one is super simple: if you change your display picture on one social media account, it changes on all your accounts. This is great for making sure your branding is the same everywhere. It also saves you some time in the run up to Christmas. Use this IFTT recipe to set it up for Facebook and Twitter.
Automate your Pinterest boards
Pinterest is an absolute goldmine for holiday-related content, and even if you don’t have much content of your own to share, you can still build a substantial following simply by sharing other peoples’. For most people, this means continually scanning and pinning new stuff – unless you use Tailwind or BoardBooster.
Both of these tools allow you to schedule pins ahead of time, tailoring the posting schedule and the board to which they get posted. Sorted! Both of these tools come with a fee, but if you just want to try them out, you can get free trials that will tide you over. Here’s a tutorial on using and setting up BoardBooster.
Top tip: creating Pinterest ‘wish lists’ is a great way to connect with followers, and do some cheeky self-promotion if you sell products people might like to buy as gifts. Check out this article for some ‘pinspiration’.
Get notified when someone mentions you
This one is for those who worry about leaving their social media unattended. What if you miss an important opportunity, or worse, someone complaining about you all over Twitter? Well, fortunately, automation can solve this too.
Using Zapier or IFTT, you can set up alerts that tell you when someone is talking about you or your business in whatever form suits you best: email, text message, notification, the list goes on. This means you can take a break from your work without missing out on any crucial developments!
Connect IFTT it with your local weather forecast and you can send automated tweets or other messages when it snows. How cool is that? (It’s okay. You can groan.)
How will you be preparing for the holidays? Do you have any more automation tips? Let us know in the comments!