This poll analysis was written by Jeremy Victor, editor-in-chief of B2Bbloggers.com. For more of his writing, visit B2Bbloggers.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

Time off for the holidays: Isn’t that a novel idea? Remember the days when leaving the office truly meant being done with work for the day? And taking time off meant being free from responsibilities of the office? We can thank technology — and corporate America’s constant demand for more — for blurring the lines between work and home. For many responsible for social media and the real-time conversation it enables, there is literally no distinction between the two.

In this week’s poll, we asked: How is your company coping with your social media point person taking time off for the holidays? The results:

  • Our social media efforts go dark when our primary contact is away: 35.87%
  • Our social media person doesn’t get to take vacations: 17.39%
  • We have a regular social media team that picks up the slack when one member is out: 13.04%
  • We don’t use social media: 13.04%
  • Our social media efforts fall to an alternate staffer: 10.87%
  • Our social media efforts fall to more than one alternate staffer: 9.78%

As social media practitioners, we really have only two options when it comes to taking time off for vacations and holidays: Go dark (36%) or staff accordingly (51%). The real question you must ask yourself in this situation: “How big of a risk are we taking by not participating?”

The one truth we can all agree to, holidays or not, is that the conversation in social media happens with or without you. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ — as networks, they never sleep. It’s your decision to determine whether you need to be actively participating 24/7/365.

There is no best practice; your answer will be different based on the amount of risk you are willing to take and these variables.

  • The size and type of your company (business to business versus business to consumer).
  • The size of your community in each social network.
  • The frequency you communicate with your community via social networks.
  • The types of communication you have with your community via social networks.

For example, if you are a midsize B2B company with a blog and 1,000 followers on Twitter, it might be appropriate to take time off during Thanksgiving if your customers likely will be doing the same. Alternatively, if you’re Comcast (@ComcastCares) and your customers regularly communicate with you on Twitter, then going dark for a few days might not go over so well.

Base your decision on customers’ needs and the importance you place on protecting your reputation and brand in the social Web. While going dark might seem appropriate — and your team might need some rest — it definitely leaves you vulnerable. That is the reason I can somewhat understand how 17% of you don’t allow your social media person to take vacations.

While it sounds crazy, we live in an always-on, connected world. Downtime is a thing of the past, and some risks might be too big to take. Don’t you think?

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12 Responses to “Are vacations from social media a thing of the past?”

  1. I am the social media lead / community manager for a Fortune 100 brand with a presence on Facebook. We have a team and we didn't go dark, except for Thanksgiving day when all of our stores are closed. We will do the same on Christmas.
    My recent post Who "likes" to use their own reusable cup at work instead of paper or Styrofoam?…

  2. Mike,
    Thanks for the real world insight into your situation. Appreciate you commenting.
    Jeremy

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  7. @KO_Tweets says:

    The only way to truly step away from social media? Go on vacation where there is no reception for your smartphone, iPad or laptop. A close to impossible task, I'd imagine.

  8. I definitely feel like you should have a plan in place so that you can address needed social media issues even when your main person is on vacation. Not LETTING that person go on vacation seems a little extreme to me.

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