Scheduling Social Media Posts While on Vacation: Good or Bad?

social media and vacationOne of the most hotly-debated topics among social media and communications leaders is the social media tactic of scheduling posts to Facebook and Twitter.

This was evident in the latest Twitter chats for both #ChSocM and #GetRealChat this past Tuesday. Both chats discussed the best way to manage social media and communications during holidays and vacations. And in both chats there were passionate advocates and critics of scheduling posts.

Earlier this week I shared a more general post with 9 Tips for Communicators Who Want to Take a Vacation, but I want to address the hot-button issue of scheduling in more detail.

The Pros of Scheduling

One of the challenges in our “always on,” “always connected” culture is to be fully engaged in the moment and with the people with which we’re physically present. We’ve all found ourselves in restaurants observing couples where both the guy and the girl seem more engaged in their smart phones than each other. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve probably been that couple at times.  (Yes, I admit it.)

Scheduling social media posts enables us to put social media out of our minds for a while and fully engage in our vacation activities and the people we’re with.

The Cons of Scheduling

Critics of scheduling argue that scheduling tweets and Facebook posts is disingenuous. Social media is supposed to be a conversation, and scheduling tweets in advance is faking your side of the conversation and complete ignoring the other side.

Additionally, there is a risk that if you schedule posts and there is a national tragedy or a major news story that breaks, your could scheduled posts could look insensitive or worse.

What Lies Beneath

Both sides make good points. Both sides are basing their perspective and a noble value. Pro-schedulers are advocating good life/social media balance, which is very important. Anti-schedules are advocating authenticity and engagement in social media, which is also very important.

And that’s why this debate is such a hot topic – the issue is a tension between two good, passionately held values.

Problems and Tensions

So, who is right? Which is more important – life/social media balance or authenticity & engagement in social media?

Neither.

And both.

This is not a problem to be solved but a tension to be managed. It’s like asking how to solve the “problem” of work and family time. We don’t. Both are important, so we don’t solve the problem but manage the tension.

Tactics for Balancing Social Media Tensions

Just like managing the tension between work and family time is something each one of us has to figure out on our own based on our own circumstances, values and phase of life, each on of us also needs to find our own way of dealing with the tension of being engaged in our offline lives and being engaged in our online lives. (Not that they are separate and distinct mind you)

Why are you using social media?

Most of us use social media for at least two reasons:

1) To connect and engage with people. This includes sharing spontaneous thoughts and observations, listening and replying to our friends posts, and responding to people who respond to us. This aspect of social media can’t really be scheduled.

2) To broadcast news, thoughts, ideas, inspiration and encouragement. This includes quotes, blog posts, and announcements. This aspect of social media can be scheduled.

My Vacation Strategy

My strategy for managing social media when I’m on vacation is this:

  1. Create all my broadcast social media content ahead of time and schedule it.
  2. Share a few thoughts or pictures each day to my personal social media accounts.
  3. Try to find a few minutes in the morning and the evening to respond to people who have replied to my personal and my organization’s blog posts, FB posts and tweets. I try to be intentional about keeping my responses as short as possible. Ultimately I need to train and empower someone else to do this, but I haven’t gotten there yet.
  4. Do a quick check of a major news site once or twice a day. If there’s been a major news story, consider whether previously scheduled posts need to be unscheduled.
  5. Allow myself time off from listening and responding to other people’s social media content. If I have time and want to do it that’s fine, but I don’t feel obligated and won’t let it distract me from my family, friends and vacation activities.

When on vacation, the bottom line for me is I’m willing to schedule posts and sacrifice some (but not all) social media engagement, and by doing so I’m able to focus the vast majority (but not all) of my time and thoughts on family, friends and vacation activities.

Are you scheduling tweets & Facebook posts to go out while you’re on vacation? Why or why not?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

3 Responses to “Scheduling Social Media Posts While on Vacation: Good or Bad?”

  1. I schedule my posts every day, regardless of whether or not I'm on vacation.

    1. I want to make sure that my social media activity is consistent.
    2. I want to regularly share archived posts that are evergreen.
    3. I want to space out activity, even if I find a bunch of articles I want to share.
    4. I want to make sure that my shares are timed perfectly to reach the largest audience.

    So I use +Buffer and +HootSuite to accomplish this.

  2. Good post.schedule posts that are more informational or entertaining, and less conversational.