Avoiding a social media burnout


For a lot of people, the whole idea of social media as work seems ludicrous. But in the last 10 years, social media has moved from the fringes to become a vital part of every business’s communications.

And within the last decade, one of the most in-demand roles is that of the community manager (or social media specialist). Basically, it’s the person responsible for the day-to-day management of an organisation’s social media accounts.

While this has historically gone to a junior member of the marketing or administration team because they ‘get it’, smart companies have long known that this role isn’t about posting a few funny jokes and photos from the company picnic. It’s about being the brand’s online representative for sales, marketing, customer services, new product development and policy (to name a few).

While these duties are easy to manage in the early days when you are still building your social media community, as it begins to thrive, the demands have a way of increasing exponentially.

Community managers find themselves simultaneously responding to enquiries, resolving disputes, generating leads and promoting the product or service around the clock. Whether it’s you as a small business owner or one of your employees, whoever fills this role may quickly find themselves checking their phone and emails at all hours, holding their breath a crisis hasn’t developed since the last time they checked.

It’s tough and never ending, so it’s no wonder that community managers typically suffer from higher incidences of burnout and fatigue. So, what can you do as a small business owner — or help your community manager do — to avoid burning out and live in the now?

1. Set expectations

Just because social media doesn’t sleep doesn’t mean that you can’t. Let your community know exactly when your page will be monitored and what sort of response time they can expect to an enquiry. Unless you’re an ASX200 or some other very large organization, no one is seriously expecting you to be there 24/7.

Your community won’t mind, as long as the time you’re available is realistic and you can stick to it. Generally, if someone is asking you something on social media, it’s because they’re not getting love anywhere else so don’t fob them off.

2. Turn off notifications on your phone

These are usually turned on by default, but I recommend switching them off and checking pages at regular intervals throughout the day. The constant stream of messages notifying you of every inconsequential update to your page is an unnecessary distraction that has the potential to cause anxiety, which will lead to burnout.

3. Take a #techbreak

The pervasiveness of our devices means that it is practically impossible in this day and age to take complete break from technology, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some strategic downtime to power down your computer and lock your phone in a drawer. You’ll find that extra step is enough to stop you from reaching for it at every opportunity, and soon enough it’ll be out of sight, out of mind. And if you go on vacation, leave it in the safe when you’re down by the pool.

4. Resource up

Sooner or later, provided you’ve done your job right, you community will really be clicking with a regular stream of activity. At this time, take a good hard look at how much time it’s taking and how much you can actually do yourself, and then get some help. Either recruit someone new, or share the load with someone else in the organization. From a risk mitigation perspective, it’s advisable to have more than one person looking after social. When you get to this stage, it’s is a good problem to have.

5. Breathe

Get up from behind the screen. Go for a walk. Enjoy the sunshine. And breathe.Whatever you do, remember: don’t let the technology control you.