Stress in the workplace is an increasingly common problem across many industries, with all of us likely to experience it at some point in our careers. But one profession, in particular, that is experiencing growing cases of job role fatigue is social media management.
As the importance of social media and the digital world in marketing has experienced rapid growth over the years, so too have the roles and responsibilities bestowed upon today’s social media manager. The “always plugged in” nature of the job can lead many to feel like they can never truly switch off and leave work at the office. How can you when our phones have essentially become another limb connected to us at all times, and social media itself has become such an intrinsic part of society?
Adding to this is the feeling from those in the profession that they are expected to wear many hats. The modern social media managers are copywriters, graphic designers, video editors, strategists, community managers, and data analysts. They’re the voice of the brand and often are at the frontlines when things go wrong – from PR disasters to disgruntled customers.
Despite this, many social media managers feel like those higher up overlook the role, not truly understanding the impact the ever-increasing roles and responsibilities are having on their mental health and wellbeing.
All of the above is leading social media managers around the world to experience ‘burnout’, described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” It is characterised by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.
In the social media environment, some of the common causes of burnout include having unclear roles and job expectations; an unmanageable workload; lack of support from leadership; a poor work-life balance; and more.
i’d be interested to know if the events of the past few years, especially 2020-present, have any other social media managers considering changing careers. i don’t know how much longer i can do this.
— amy b (@arb) January 7, 2021
Tips on avoiding burnout as a social media manager
Despite the growing problem of burnout in the social media world, the good news is there are many preventative measures that can be taken, both on an individual and organisation level, to avoid it. Here at Slate, we are a team that truly understands the pressures and pain points of a career in social media. With that said, we’ve gone ahead and put together our top 3 top tips for avoiding burnout as a social media manager.
#1 — Set yourself some healthy boundaries
Coming up first in our tips for avoiding burnout: make a good work/life balance a non-negotiable. While there is nothing wrong with being committed to your work, it should not become an inescapable part of your identity. Busy social media managers are often far too guilty of dedicating the majority of their days to their jobs, but neglecting to find time for themselves. And this is what ultimately leads to burnout.
Not only is switching off and giving yourself time to focus on your hobbies and interest paramount for mental health and well-being, but as the common saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. So, even if you think you have the best hard-working intentions at heart, if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you’re probably not working at your optimum level. Having a healthy work-life balance is so important in so many ways, having a direct impact on many areas of life. And that’s why you should set yourself, and others, some boundaries. This includes:
- Establish working hours: Those who work in social know all too well that working 9 to 5 (what a way to make a livinnn’) everyday and blissfully closing the laptop to signify the end of the working day is not always possible or realistic. However, it is possible to establish limits to help avoid social burnout. Specifying certain times in your calendar or setting statuses on Slack (for things like lunch, working out, etc) are common ways to let colleagues know when you are off-limits.
- Push back on unrealistic assignments: As social media managers, we have a lot of tasks and requests thrown at us throughout the day. While it is far too tempting to say yes to everything with the aim of delivering it as soon as possible, there is nothing wrong with accepting that you can’t handle everything. Evaluate the time-sensitivity of an assignment and if you feel like it’s unrealistic, then voice this. Continuously pushing yourself to the limits will only increase your chances of burnout.
- Do more of what you love: It’s important to hold yourself accountable when it comes to ensuring a healthy work/life balance, and this includes making time to do what brings you joy in life. Research proves that pursuing passions lowers stress and ups dopamine. One study found that people were 34 percent less stressed and 18 percent less sad when they engaged in hobbies. Another study found that creative activities have positive effects both on and off the job. So, whether it’s working out, going for brunches, painting or learning to play the kazoo, make sure you are switching off your phone and making time for what really sets your soul on fire.
#2 — Work smarter, not harder
Social media managers are already working around the clock to try and deliver everything they need to, often feeling like they are still unable to tick off all items on the ever-growing to-do list. But instead of feeling like they are left with no other option than to add more working hours to their already jam-packed day, social media managers should look to implement a few tactics to improve productivity and ease the mounting pressure.
Today there are a fantastic variety of tools available to social media managers looking to work smarter. Feeling like you’re scrambling around each day trying to find time to post? Try out one of the many automation platforms out there that are enabling users to schedule posts in advance. Maybe you find yourself making mistakes in your copy due to having to rush writing captions. If that’s the case, why not try out Grammarly, a popular AI-powered proofreader. Or, perhaps you are one of those social media managers who feel like they are spreading themselves too thin, and need a solution that helps take the pressure out of the time-consuming content creation process. That’s where a content creation tool such as Slate becomes indispensable. The all-in-one platform enables users to upload their brand assets and then instantly create a range of engaging content using customisable templates. A process that can take hours can be whittled down to literally seconds!
#3 — Don’t be afraid to ask for support
One of the most important steps to avoiding burnout is to recognise when you are starting to feel the mounting pressure. And when you do, don’t be afraid to ask for support from leadership and peers. Asking for help is not a sign of failure. With 76 percent of employees experiencing burnout during their careers at least sometimes, you must know you are not alone in how you are feeling.
Social media managers are highly-skilled in all kinds of areas. But just because you are able to carry out the work of a copywriter, a video editor, a graphic designer, and a conflict resolution expert doesn’t mean you should do it all at the expense of your mental health and wellbeing.
When the workload feels too much, have a frank discussion with your management around a business case to bring in support for you – whether that’s a freelancer, a part-time role, or a full-time position. We can’t assume that our CEOs and management can always see how much pressure we are under. Especially if they aren’t overseeing every single assignment and request coming in from different business departments. Because of this, it’s important to voice your concerns so that they are aware of the issue and can take the necessary steps to support you moving forward. Futhermore, these things are always better to act on early to avoid reaching a stage where the stress is affecting your everyday life.
As well as making your feelings known to your employer, a good way to manage burnout is to connect with a support network. This may be your friends or family, but there are also some truly amazing online community groups aimed specifically at social media managers. Sometimes a problem shared really is a problem halved. And expressing your feelings to those who can truly understand and validate them is a great way to lessen the burden of burnout.
A career in social media is a wonderful, creative and incredibly fun one. But social media can also be an overwhelmingly demanding and chaotic environment that can lead to burnout for many of those who work in it, day in and day out. Enjoy the ride but also remember to set clear boundaries, utilise the incredible tools available today to help ease the pressure, and finally, get comfortable with asking for support when you feel you need it.
Learn more about how Slate can help transform your social media content and schedule a demo today.