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February 6, 2013

Last week was a challenging one at ChatterBlast.

I came back from a long weekend vacation, returning to find our CEO Evan and our senior associate Julie both on death’s door with this unstoppable super-flu. A few days later, our intern Chris fell victim to it as well. Our team hunkered down, put on the surgical masks, and started gobbling vitamin C.

Social media is real time communication, and interactions can’t “call in sick.” We have a multitude of clients who expect daily engagements and depend on us to handle their ever-growing digital customer service. The accounts we manage can’t go dark, ever.

We were able to juggle assignments, work some extra hours, and task our freelancers with more projects, covering every base. But we are a social media firm, so we have those resources ready. What about organizations that have limited resources or smaller operations? Some companies have just one person in a social media role – and that designate might have other communications responsibilities, too.

So…What do you do to continue the flow of communication and customer engagement when your social media guru/coordinator/czar/manager can’t come to work?

Be Prepared – Have “evergreen” content prepared for your blog. Have some tweets pre-written and blog posts on file. Make sure you have content ready to use so you don’t have to sweat a deadline when covering for an E20-598 absentee. Also, make sure that you or another person in your organization has the proper training, passwords, and knowledge.

Be Honest – Let your internal stakeholders and your co-workers know about the situation. Social media is not a kid’s game, it is an important part of your company’s business strategy. The long-term absence of your community 251-502 manager is a big deal – and you need to treat it that way.

Be There – As we said, you can’t let your accounts go dark. Don’t sweat it if you miss a few pins or the LinkedIn profile slows down for a day, but make sure your community’s needs are heard, acknowledged, and answered. It’s fine if you have to publically adjust the turnaround time to create solutions. Just don’t leave your community unengaged without an explanation.

Be A Leader – Rally the troops, get people to work extra, and call in the reserves. If you have the budget and resources, bring in some new talent to help during the crisis. If you don’t, stay late and burn the candle at both ends.

And one last piece of advice: Encourage your staff to get flu shots, even if you have to administer them yourself!

About the Author

Matthew Ray

Creative Director and Co-Founder of ChatterBlast, Matthew Ray is a fan of comic books, ice cream and sitcoms from the late 1980s.

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