And down the stretch we come! It feels like just yesterday we were making 2013 predictions and now some blogs are already rolling out tips for 2014. It’s easy get into bad habits in Q4 or put things off until Q1, so follow these 10 Commandments to make the most out of these remaining months.
1. Thou Shalt Not Put Off Projects Until The New Year
Don’t pause your personal growth, project ideas, and professional ambitions until the New Year. It’s tempting to make “post regularly on Google+” your New Year’s resolution, but that’s still three months away. Don’t put off until Q1 what you can start this week.
I get it. Your shiny, new 2014 marketing plan is calling your name, everyone is using their PTO, and coworkers seem to care more about upcoming travel plans than launching new initiatives. There will always be an excuse to not do something. In Q2 and Q3 you could easily have put off projects because it was summer and everything slows down. If you keep pushing through these next three months, you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish.
2. Thou Shalt Not Make Everything Holiday Themed
Everything is pumpkin spice flavored in October, with almost any brand rolling out a pumpkin spice product. Would you like try a pumpkin spice cookie? Or test our pumpkin spice analytics software?
Between Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the multitude of December holidays, it’s tempting to make every status, article, newsletter, and promotion holiday themed. Remember, all of your competition is doing the same.
Not only is it hard to stand out from the crowd when everyone else is talking turkey, but holiday posts have one of the shortest lifespans in the history of content. Your fans don’t want to read about Christmas posts in the middle of July and won’t click on your “12 Days of X” metaphor when searching for answers. Furthermore, everyone will probably be doing something equally hokey next year. You may pull the same decorations out of the closet year after year, but will hardly rehash holiday content.
In the same way that you’re resisting that second glass of eggnog, resist the holiday content!
3. Thou Shalt Not Schedule Social Media Posts Too Far in Advance
Something innocuous such as “Like if you’re excited for Monday Night Football,” or “Tweet us your plans for this weekend!” can still come back to bite you in the butt. Time and again brands have faced backlash for auto-posting during a national tragedy.
For example, Seamless sent out a tweet that read “Important: Today is National Guacamole Day. Nothing else matters,” while America was in a state of shock over the Navy Yard shooting last month. A threat to national security is more important that Guacamole.
Guy Kawasaki didn’t turn off his scheduled tweets after the Boston Bombings, which made him seem insensitive towards the events, as if he was too important to put posts on hold. While he might actually be a great person in real life, he damaged his reputation by continuing to auto-post — and then arguing with fans about it.
As people start tying up loose ends or traveling during the holidays, there’s a strong temptation to schedule social media posts to have one less task on your plate. In actuality, that small task can save you major headaches later.
4. Thou Shalt Not Fall Out of Touch with Connections
You’re busy. They’re busy. You’re driving to Grandma’s for the holidays; they’re getting frisked by the TSA. You’re getting final approval for the 2014 marketing plan, they’re… you get the idea.
Q4 is one of the busiest times of the year, but don’t let that be an excuse to fall out of touch with leads, blog contributors, mentors, and general business connections. Not only will forgetting to stay in contact hurt your relationship, it will also set a bad precedent when you’re back in touch. No one likes to feel like they’ve been forgotten about or are too unimportant maintain a relationship with. Carelessness in Q4 can cost you in Q1.
5. Thou Shalt Not Review Employees Only Once A Year
Ah yes, the dreaded and celebrated End of Year Review, where hopeful employees dream of raises and pray that they won’t be reprimanded. If possible within your company, don’t let an EOY review be the only time you sit down and talk about an employee’s performance.
The Portland Business Journal recommends quarterly reviews for employees. Not only does feedback help employees, it also gives employers a precedent to look back on. If the EOY review has reviews from the three previous quarters, then both the employee and employer can see how far they’ve truly come.
6. Thou Shalt Not Let Deadlines Slip Away
The major buzzword for Q4 should be accountability. As people use vacation days and try to finish as many projects as possible, there will be a strong temptation to miss deadlines and let others take the heat.
Push through to end the year on a good note. You don’t want to start 2014 with a bad taste in your mouth from co-worker fights and dropped balls from 2013.
7. Thou Shalt Not Abandon Your Series
This sin is tempting for those with a webinar, podcast, or interview series – especially if they usually occur at the end of the month.
The weeks will fly by in the fourth quarter and before you know it’s December 20 and you haven’t created a podcast since September. You have fallen out of your series and will have to do a re-launch in January.
While marketers who have monthly interviews or webinars struggle to maintain their series, weekly columnists will be tempted to skip a week here or there. Eventually that turns a weekly column into a monthly, until it’s not a post at all.
8. Thou Shalt Not Let Quality Suffer
In your determination to maintain a regular series, online presence, and posting schedule, do not let quality suffer. Posting content for the sake of posting content will embarrass you later on and might deter new readers.
All content should be thoroughly reviewed before publish, and given the same amount of love and time that you would give to it during the rest of the year.
9. Thous Shalt Not Forget About Published Content
For those who do schedule social media and blog posts (not too far in advance!) thou shalt not let them publish without checking up on them.
Posting a question on Twitter and Facebook and then not responding to your fans’ answers is almost as bad as not posting at all. Customers could be messaging you with problems that you’re blissfully ignoring because of scheduled content.
Ignoring published content on blogs is dangerous to your reputation. Forgetting to check the posts to make sure they published correctly – with proper images, formatting, etc. – could leave them stranded throughout the holiday season. Are you willing to risk that?
At the most basic level, checking up on published content means you can review any tweets or posts for typos you might have missed when scheduling them.
10. Thou Shalt Not Neglect the Client
The Holidays should not be an excuse to drop the ball with client communication. Start talking to clients in the end of October or early November about their holiday schedule. When will they be out of town? When will their offices be open? What is proper protocol for contacting them? Failing to contact a client because you assumed their offices were closed when they weren’t could be a major misstep.
During Q4 we are all faced with temptations to schedule out content and coast through the end of the year. Do your best to resist and push through these final months of 2013.