Got summer vacation plans? Perhaps you’re going to spend some time soaking up the sun. That sounds real nice, and I recommend doing it often. However, we all know that when it comes to brands, content and social media efforts never get time off. And misusing automation tools likes HootSuite, TweetDeck and others can wreak havoc on your brand’s reputation.

Fact: Automation cannot replace you, the person behind the brand. But when it comes time to go on vacation, it’s the next best thing to keep your brand afloat. Just remember, it’s a temporary strategy that requires you to do more advanced planning.

So, before you head to the airport and leave your content in the hands of automation software, below are 5 mistakes to avoid:

  1. Not Planning Ahead 
    Marketing automation is only as good as the content that you feed into the delivery mechanism. It takes a lot of planning. Don’t make the mistake of scheduling arbitrary content with no real purpose or connection to your marketing objectives. Instead, research trigger dates in advance based on events and link them to your marketing strategy. Doing this will make your content and social media efforts work harder on your behalf.
  2. Trying to be Brilliant – Not Helpful
    One misperception in the world of content creation is that as long as you have something brilliant to say, you can attract customers and create brand ambassadors. The truth is that what you say doesn’t have to be brilliant, but it does need to address the interests of your target audience. So, instead of being a “professor,” be a resource. You should already have a good idea of the topics your customers will find interesting. So before vacationing, organize those topics and prepare a series of how-to tips that can be shared at various points during your time off.
  3. Inability to Repurpose Content in a Meaningful Way
    Let’s face it, changing a headline doesn’t change the content. Consumers are smarter than ever – particularly since all the tools that are available for brands are also available to the general public. Still, repurposing is good if it’s planned well. Marketers should take time to prepare new angles on their content archives that consumers already find interesting. Do this before packing and it’s smooth sailing.
  4. Ignoring Photos and Micro-Content
    Short content blips are great because they allow consumers to digest concepts in tiny chunks. Marketers who insist on automating lengthy content are essentially creating bridges to nowhere. And without attention-grabbing photos that most consumers flock to, your content may very well be sitting on an island of its own. Focusing automation efforts on micro-content will also expand your pool of pre-planned content delivery.
  5. Failing to Create Content that Compels Customers to Share
    Content should never move in one direction. In fact, it should be compelling enough to cause your custumers to engage other customers. So when planning that content schedule, always include a subtle call-to-action that encourages users to share among their friends, peers, family members, etc. (By the way, please share this with your colleagues heading on vacation using those buttoms up top. Thanks so much!) This is important because even with all the impressive technology that exists today, there is no substitution for real-time human involvement – particularly, when it comes from your customer base.

When traveling on an often curvy path to your well-deserved vacation destination, you can’t simply hit cruise control. Every bump along the way requires a thoughtful response. The good news is that a mix of automation tools, a pre-planned content strategy and a touch of “humanness” will make your brand shine while you enjoy some sunshine.