10 Ways Social Marketers Avoid Social Media Burnout
Securing a social media manager is on fire at both ends. Most people suffer from social media burnout and fatigue at work at some point. But social media managers often feel the burn from both at the same time.
For social media professionals, self-care tips are a little different. How do you pull the plug out of the socket when plugging in is your job? Can you actually get out of a downward spiral? Where do you plan a "digital detox" in everyday life?
I would be interested to know if the events of the past few years, especially from 2020 onwards, have other social media managers considering a career change. I don't know how much longer I can do that.
– Amy B (@arb) January 7, 2021
The need to address burnout on social media is urgent as pressures mount, conditions deteriorate and the number of skilled professionals willing to compete in the industry declines. Experts and professionals advise you on how to combat burnout and advocate a more supportive work environment.
What is Social Media Burnout?
Social media burnout is a form of workplace burnout defined by the World Health Organization as "a syndrome designed as a result of chronic stress in the workplace that has not been successfully treated".
Burnout can occur in any industry, but is common in the social media industry, where unplugging the power cord is often more difficult.
Stressors identified only in relation to burnout on social media in a West Virginia University study include the need to “always be active,” being underpaid and underestimated in their roles, and the lack of buy-in of executives.
Causes of Social Media Burnout:
- Unmanageable workload
- Unclear work expectations
- Stigma associated with social media
- Lack of leadership support
- Limited autonomy or control
- Negative work environment
- Work-life imbalance
Social media burnout can be exacerbated by systemic and social inequalities such as gender, race, age, and discrimination based on disability. As the Black Lives Matter movement and pandemic-induced setbacks in gender equality have shown, the added consequences of racial traumatic stress, emotional work, compassion fatigue, etc. are often experienced in a human personal and professional level. Financial problems, family crises, health problems and a lack of support at home also increase work pressure.
I see and read a lot about social media burnout from professionals in the field. Advertising and social issues are extremely white. It's a bit intriguing to me that this very racist period of our lives has apparently affected the sanity of others a lot more than I, a black man, did.
– DAKARI is booked. (@dakaridunning) January 14, 2021
Signs of burnout on social media may be subtle at first, but can lead to breakdown if left unattended. According to the World Health Organization, symptoms include:
- Energy consumption or exhaustion
- Job dissatisfaction
- Negativity or cynicism related to work
- Inability to fulfill responsibilities
10 ways to avoid burnout on social media
1. Set limits and expectations
Social media may be "always on", but that doesn't mean you should be. "24/7 social media coverage just isn't realistic or healthy," said Nick Martin, Hootsuites global social responsibility specialist.
“I always have fixed working hours,” he explains. “In my opinion, you need to set expectations right away. In my team, we have all made it very clear that work-life balance is really important. "
In order to maintain the boundaries of working life even while working in remote locations, he keeps his work accounts away from his personal phone.
Whichever limits you choose, it's important that you communicate them with your colleagues and managers, says Sallie Poggi, director of social media at UC Davis. “Limits are just another word for expectations,” she explains. “So set these expectations with your manager, your teams and also your audience. Tell them when you will and when you will not answer. "
My phone has been on DND 24/7 since 2016. No notifications. Life is so much better!
– Kenneth Dimalibot @ (@kendimalibot) May 5, 2021
Do you need help drawing borders? Try website blockers or internet restriction apps.
2. Know and show your worth
The work of social media managers is often underpaid, underestimated and not rewarded. There is a lot of misunderstanding about the industry and although expectations for skill levels are high, social jobs are often relegated to the internal economy.
Additionally, social media platforms have earned themselves a bad rap for their role in spreading misinformation, hatred, and harassment.
"Don't let the stigma of the tools you use to promote your work define you. You don't just work on social media," said Nikki Sunstrum, director of social media and engagement at the University of Michigan, in a tweet. You are a strategic communicator, public relations professional, marketer, customer service provider and so much more! Know your worth and make sure others do too. "
I was reminded today, after 25 years in my profession, that I am still qualifying referrals. "That could be … I was just … I think …"
A senior leader once said to me, "Do you think Jennifer or do you know?"
LPT: Just lose, could and think from your vocabulary
– Jen Hartmann (@jenalyson) May 8, 2021
Look for opportunities to get involved in your work in and out of the job. Ask to attend relevant meetings and appropriate committees. Use data to show the value of your work, whether it's crisis aversion, community building, or ROI.
If the "social media" part of your job title turns out to be a hangup, suggest an alternate title.
3. Work smarter, not harder
All over the world, the pandemic has pushed people to put in more hours of work.
A recent survey by Blind, an anonymous community app for professionals, found that 61% of parents work three extra hours to complete typical workday tasks. For many who work from home, scope creep has gotten out of hand.
Overwork puts people on the fast lane to burnout. Implement tactics that make you more efficient rather than spending extra hours. Martin recommends the Pomodoro method, which works for 25 minutes and cleans the palate for five minutes. "It helps me focus on one task and saves me from getting caught up in a social vortex," he says.
Time blocking your day and tasks into segments is another effective productivity technique. "I use time blocking to set boundaries on the time I spend on notifications and comments, and I'm very strategic with my time blocks," says Poggi. "When you have a really intense job, let's say it's moderating comments, after that, block something that allows you to unplug and refill."
4. Recognize your warning signs
It is not easy to determine where a doom scroll starts and ends. But the sooner you learn how to spot the signs, the better equip yourself when the downward spiral beckons.
"Treat your mental strength as a muscle that you need to condition and exercise," says Poggi. “Watch when it just gets too much. And take a break in those moments. "
How do you recognize signs of burnout? Start with questions like these from the Mayo Clinic.
- Do you feel negative or cynical at work?
- Do you lack energy and motivation at work?
- Do you find it hard to concentrate?
- Are you lacking job satisfaction?
- Have you become more isolated?
- Have your sleeping habits changed?
Take your answers seriously. If taking a walk or other coping mechanism doesn't seem like a viable solution, it's time to seek help. Do you notice a colleague with burnout? Offer your support.
Sometimes we ourselves recognize burnout and the need to take a break, sometimes we need to be informed about it. Let's look out for one another and make sure we encourage those who matter to us to take breaks. #Mental health
– Rinki Sethi (@rinkisethi) May 5, 2021
5. Ask for help
Social media managers are often self-starters. Just because they can do the job of an audience analyst, graphic designer, copywriter, and dispute resolution specialist in a single tweet doesn't mean they should. And no one should have to deal with management, systems, or mental health problems alone.
When the workload gets too heavy, "create a business case to hire a contractor, part-time support, or a new role," says Martin. "A social media manager can't be a blog writer, a Google Ad Words specialist, a Photoshop expert, and so on."
Working on social media also has a high impact on mental health. Let your manager know if you're having trouble.
"We need to start normalizing and asking for help and asking people to share the mental burden," says Poggi. "The first step in asking for help is to ask for it before you need it."
Finding support early is usually more effective, but it is never too late to seek help.
Set up check-ins. Take your mental health days. See if you can incorporate therapy into workplace health benefits. Build a support network. Seek professional help.
6. Prepare the response protocols
According to a West Virginia University study, social media professionals rate their mental health and wellbeing a 6/10 most days. During a crisis, this number drops to around 4.5 / 10.
Dealing with sensitive issues, public emergencies, online harassment, and other conflicts is understandably stressful. Nobody should have to deal with it alone or without an appropriate crisis communication plan.
Work with your team to develop scenarios, establish protocols, and identify appropriate stakeholders. "One thing we will do in the event of a crisis is take a break from the press on social media," says Martin. This strategy prevents rash decisions and allows the team to properly assess the situation and choose the best plan of action.
Also, in our webinar on fighting mental fatigue for social media professionals, experts suggest setting up or joining an emergency team or committee.
Make plans for non-emergencies too. Create a protocol that defines how the responsibilities of the team members should be covered if someone has to take one Mental Health Day. If the idea of spending days in mental health weighs on people, it defeats the purpose. With a given support plan, employees can check out without worries.
7. Advocate equitable mental health resources
As the conversation about mental health has progressed, the stigma persists. Mental health discrimination remains widespread in the workplace. As a result, more than 70% of people with a mental illness actively hide it from others.
When you lead a team, you promote a climate where employee wellbeing is ahead of the same numbers and sales. Researchers at the London School of Economics found that employees who feel able to speak openly about depression with their managers are more productive at work. Normalize speaking about depression and anxiety, and normalize speaking about solutions and coping mechanisms.
What will help you with anxiety?
– Hina Surani (Hee-na) (@hinasurani) April 16, 2021
There are significant differences in the way mental health is experienced and viewed based on racial background, gender, age, and sexual orientation. If you can, advocate for equitable support, resources, and culturally appropriate support in your organization.
For example, employee resource groups can provide safe spaces for employees to share experiences, support one another, and feel less isolated.
I took our Black ERG – Blackflow – through a mediation exercise last Friday to acknowledge the grief and trauma we have experienced as blacks over the past year.
This is a great 10 minute exercise to do with your own ERG or even as a team
– Sean Page @ (@SeanTalentW) May 4, 2021
8. Maintain healthy habits
Prepare for success with healthy habits.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of things you can do to stay healthy at work:
- Protect your eye health.
- Take regular breaks.
- Eat healthy meals away from your desk.
- Keep your phone out of the bedroom.
- Sleep well.
9. Celebrate victories
The dark side of social media has the pull of a black hole. Fight the darkness by emphasizing good results and personal victories.
Create a folder or presentation of any positive feedback you've received. Post your best tweets on your wall. Reward yourself and your team members for achieving benchmarks, milestones and other important achievements.
Pay it forward too. Call out great work when you see it. Even the smallest gestures can leave a lasting impression.
One of the best moments I had as a social media manager was when I was working at @TXST.
I was walking around campus when I saw that a professor had printed out one of my Star Wars Day posts and pinned it on her door.
It was a small thing, but my day could get over 5,000 likes. pic.twitter.com/4DAj3AoYcq
– Jon-Stephen Stansel (@jsstansel) May 10, 2021
10. Make time for what makes you happy
The routine “eat, work, sleep, repeat” gets tired very quickly. Don't let your #CareerGoals get in the way of spending time with family, friends, and the things that make you happy.
"Research shows that those who are feeling time-deprived experience lower levels of happiness and higher levels of anxiety, depression, and stress," writes Ashley Whillans, assistant professor at Harvard Business School, for Harvard Business Review.
“You experience less joy. They laugh less. You exercise less and are less healthy. Your productivity at work is reduced. They are more likely to get divorced. "
Remember: there is more to life than what happens on your social media schedules.
To go for a walk. Get some air. Spend some time doing something that you really enjoy.
Have a nice weekend + take care, friends 🤍
– Nicole Tabak (@nicoletabak) April 23, 2021
On the other hand, research shows that pursuing passions lowers stress and increases dopamine. A 2015 study found that people were 34% less stressed and 18% less sad when engaging in hobbies. Another study found that creative activities both in and out of the workplace have positive effects.
These are just a few tips you can use to keep the social media burnout at bay or to get you back on track if you're already experiencing it. Remember, no job is more important than your own mental health.
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