My colleague Alok talked about the importance of taking time off as a community manager in this recent post, but what are the strategies you can take to ensure your community health when you are gone? It's one thing to take time off, but it doesn't help if all this time is spent worrying.
Start now before you go on vacation
To ensure at some point you can go on vacation, it would help to have a plan already in place. Don't give yourself the stress of coming up with it last minute. So start now to set-up a holiday/time-off policy for your community. The MyCMGR team had some great ideas on what should be in these guidelines. Some of the things you will want to consider include:
- Who will be moderating spam on the back end (if that’s an issue)?
- Will you publicly declare that you’re taking time off away from the community?
- What’s the crisis escalation plan in case something does go wrong?
- Does it make sense to post holiday-relevant, lightweight content on that day?
- Create a cheat-sheet with names of trusted members, potential problem members and other tips that can come in handy for those covering.
You are not usually alone in your company
As Jenn Pedde, wrote for TheCommunityManager.com on this topic: "You are never a team of one — even if your entire organization is 5 people, 15 people, or 50 people. If you think you are a team of one, it’s because you’ve most likely convinced yourself of that. If a small company is really the case, it is up to you to empower more of that team to help you in your duties. You must change the internal community of your company before you have any hope of getting help with the external community of your customers. The community’s health matters to all departments. Educate, train, and create documents that will help them help you. As the manager, set up times and delegate responsibilities. Set up a schedule for all employees to blog once a month, or ask a few others to tweet and facebook update… whatever your community consists of, find people on your team to help. Community Management is not a one person job. It never has been, and it never will be."
If going on holiday opens the doors to others helping you, that's a good thing. You've now got an opportunity to strengthen your community. You may also discover some hidden talents from within your walls.
Empower your active members to step up
If you've done your job well, you probably have quite a few members who hold the community close to their heart. This is an opportunity to give some responsibility for these community members to step up and help moderate. This can be especially helpful if you have a global community where members will not be celebrating the same holidays as you.
For example, consider maybe a trade with your Canadian friends who won't be off on July 4th, and are coming off a nice long weekend celebrating Canada Day on July 1st.
In the end, don't be worried about taking time off. You've probably already built a strong community. It should be able to withstand you taking a couple of days to regroup, refresh and reenergize. Best of all, when you return, you will be a new person, with a renewed passion, ready for the challenges ahead.