The holidays are the perfect time to spend with friends and family. Many people get a chance to catch up and enjoy the company of family and friends. Online communities tend to go silent for these days around holidays. Most of the members of communities are busy with their own inner social circles of their offline home life. But, what happens to those members of the online communities who do not have somewhere to go for the holidays. The type of members who are active within your community and visit regularly. The members who everyone identifies with and knows. Not everyone is fortunate to be able to go somewhere on the holidays due to circumstances of life. Someone might not just have a big family, started a new job far away from home, or no family at all. It could be an entirely different reason. Every community has members who are alone on the holidays. It can be very difficult to identify who these lonely users are unless they tell you as a community manager.
When you are always seeing them lurking online and posting on the holidays, they sometimes post subtle hints of their situation by their attitude. A community manager could engage this user privately to find out. Just ask him or her if they are OK and ask if there is something they can do to help. Do not pry for information. You also don’t want to make them feel more crappy and depressed then they may already be. The act of asking will make them feel better knowing you care and took the time out of your holiday. They are getting some attention as if they were able to go out with friends or family on a holiday. You are also establishing a new friend and relationship with your member.
Not all online communities are open or can be on the holidays. Not all online communities even staff a community team member on holidays even when they should be. But, it would be wise to make a few appearances by you or other staff members at different times during the day even if your not being paid. Your members will continue to visit your site so why shouldn’t you? If it is popular and has a thriving community no matter holiday or time of the year. It is hard to break a habit of community participation when you provide great content for your audience. A community manager’s job is to be there when times are good and bad for you. Try to reserve some time and do not socially neglect your community during the holidays. Your community during the holidays does not want to be a lonely user either.
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I ran a poll before Christmas and some 80% of community managers said they were planning on checking their communities on Christmas day, so I think for many it's ok. Certainly the communities I frequent had a bit of activity on Christmas day. Not as much as other days for sure, but there were people there chatting away.
@Adi Gaskell During a previous cmgr chat most said they were taking time off or delegating the responsibility when they should be at least keeping up with appearances. I know when i had a substitute teacher in school, classmates took liberties.