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Unless you’re the NHS, police or a major retailer, your workforce is probably going to relax a bit over the festive period. For around two weeks, many companies will operate with a mere skeleton staff and the workers that do make it in will spend their days eating mince pies and leaving at three.

It’s one of my favourite times of year. But, if you’re serious about your search engine optimisation (SEO), company reputation, and online marketing, there are some things you simply cannot afford to slack off on, no matter how much holiday people are taking.

Here are my top five...

Updating your blog

Google’s crawlers won’t be clocking off at three to go down the pub, so don’t stop feeding them the content they need.

Regular, original copy is essential for your organic optimisation. Your website should be putting out a regular content ‘heartbeat’, so that the robots know to keep checking it.

Don’t ignore your blog entirely for two and a half weeks. Having said that, there’s no reason the content has to be deathly serious, a few light-hearted posts won’t go amiss.

With so many staff at work with nothing to do, you might even get a few more readers, so keep it up.

Socialising on the web

Do you run a social media marketing campaign? There’s no reason to let that drop over the Christmas period, at the very least you need to monitor your chosen social platforms in case your customers begin talking to you.

But also, a social campaign is 'social'. Interacting with people when they’re relaxed and Christmassy can build feelings of loyalty – especially if your business gives fans a festive present, like a discount.

If you just stop the conversation for two weeks, you’ll lose ground. You can’t stand still with social media.

Managing your SEM campaign

Search engine marketing (SEM) is usually a manageable, plodding task requiring a methodical analysis of data. However, if you’re doing it well, you need to also be ready to react swiftly to news and a changing market.

Legend has it (can anyone confirm this?) that when Compare the Market launched its infamous meerkat campaign, it didn’t bid on the term ‘meerkat’ – while other price comparison sites did and cashed in on those customers. You need to be constantly ready to update your keywords.

If your SEM team is off over the whole Christmas period, ask one of them to keep an eye on your paid search and agree to update your campaign if anything particularly relevant occurs.

Yes, it’s unlikely to happen, but it’s not worth leaving your campaign rudderless, just in case.

Monitor Twitter

This one is especially true for the larger brands. Someone in your company should be keeping an eye on Twitter over the Christmas period. It may only be the odd search for your company’s name, but it’s important.

This super-fast platform has been known to destroy a company’s reputation within days and people do clock up a lot of screen time over the festive weeks.

If someone is unhappy with a product, advert or even something your MD said to a newspaper, they are just as likely to talk about it at Christmas as at any other time of year.

So, keep an eye on the platform, even if you’re not actively marketing through it, and be ready to respond.

Answer complaints

This is a particular issue for small businesses. If you have a very small team managing your customer service, it can be all too easy for messages to get ignored over the Christmas season.

But you simply cannot risk the bad feeling this is likely to engineer. A quick, positive and helpful response to a complaint can turn a negative customer experience into a positive one.

Conversely, appearing to ignore a complaint can turn a small customer niggle into a real reputational crisis.

This can be especially true during the festive holidays – don’t be the company that ruined Christmas in a customer’s eyes. Perhaps a delivery hasn’t been made in time for Christmas, maybe a customer is unhappy with the quality of the product you sent, potentially they have been sent an incorrect item.

You’ll find it simple to deal with these queries, but only if your customer services team is still picking up emails and calls. Ignore them and you leave your client to get even angrier.

Kevin Gibbons

Published 6 December, 2010 by Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons is UK Managing Director at digital marketing agency BlueGlass. He is also known as an SEO speaker and can be found on Twitter and Google+.

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