Social media has seen rapid growth in the past decade and along with it has grown the role of the Social Media Manager. Even though it seems glamorous from the outside, the job can be exhausting. Social media managers are often alone in their role depending on the company and are expected to wear many hats. Along with the pressures, it’s just not healthy to be constantly plugged in the way social media managers often are.
Burnout is a growing phenomenon among social media managers, with people in the role pointing out the platforms they manage as major contributors. If you are or want to become a social media manager, it’s important to understand how to manage your relationship with your job and the platforms you work with to avoid burnout. And better than just telling you myself, we included advice from our very own social media manager, Mitra Mehvar on what she does to avoid burnout.
What causes burnout in social media managers?
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged and repeated stress. People experience burnout in their regular day jobs all the time. In fact, burnout rates are at an all-time high. And regular work-related burnout is only compounded when met with the exhaustion that could stem from anyone spending too much time on social media.
The frequent changes to platforms can be difficult to keep up with and can contribute to burnout as well. We asked Mitra if any specific platforms make the stress worse and she said, “Instagram is one platform at the moment that is CONSTANTLY changing. The second you feel like you've got the hang of things, they change things on you.”
In 2022 alone, Instagram has made at least four major updates – and all of them change how users experience the platform. Mitra adds that “You feel like you put so much time and effort into your posts and then you find out that all that work you did isn't what the platform is focusing on anymore. It can be a lot to keep up with.”
A study by Harvard University, suggests that as long as people are mindful users of social media, strong social networks are associated with positive mental health and well-being. However, disconnecting and mindfulness are extra difficult to do when it’s your job.
So, how can you identify if you or a colleague are starting to feel burned out? In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared that burnout is an occupational phenomenon “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. Burnout was characterised by the WHO in three dimensions including:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- Increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
- Reduced professional efficacy
Essentially, if you don’t feel like you can log off at the end of the day or on weekends, or you’re hesitant to take time off or leave your phone for fear of missing important moments you might be burned out or at risk of burning out.
4 ways to avoid burnout
Just as social media managers can take personal steps to avoid burnout, companies also have a responsibility to their employees to mitigate the effects on their employees. Here are some tips for avoiding burnout for social media managers (and their organizations).
- Mitra recommends allowing yourself to set boundaries and disconnect fully. She says “There's always something happening on social media so it can feel like you need to be "on" all the time, so I try to remind myself that it's ok to take a step back and if I miss out on a trend, it's ok!” She also takes the time to remind herself that it’s just social media. Nothing horrible will happen if you miss posting for one day.
It's just social media
2. As the account grows, companies should hire different people for different roles or outsource certain responsibilities. Some things that can be outsourced include strategy, copywriting, graphic design, and community management. On this note, Mitra recommended understanding that “being a social media manager is not just doing posts - we do so much more: graphic design, video editing, copywriting, customer service, and strategy just to name a few. It's a lot!”
3. Once your company can afford to, you can also consider hiring more social media managers and rotating them like you would a customer service team. If your team can’t afford to hire someone to handle each aspect of social media management, then focus on creating a support system for the existing social media manager. Can another employee take over replying to comments for a few hours each week? Are custom images necessary for every single post? Figuring out ways to take the burden off just one person is a big part of employee wellness.
4. Companies should also create safe spaces and psychological safety for employees to air their stressors and grievances. Social media managers shouldn’t feel bad that they can’t keep up with creating perfect posts and a rigorous posting schedule – and that’s okay. Create a culture where it is okay if you miss posting on #TacoTuesday.
Mitra also underpins the responsibility of companies in mitigating burnout saying, “Let your social media managers fully disconnect. There's always something happening on social media so it can be easy to feel like you need to always check things to make sure you don't miss out. It's ok to step away for a bit. Let your social media managers have a real break from their job - keeping up with everything on social can be exhausting.”
Incorporate time off from social media into your work routine
Where regular social media users may take time off from their accounts every other year, social media managers need to consider doing this more often. Manage your relationship with different platforms by detoxing once in a while, as well as stepping away from the accounts you’re in charge of more frequently.
A final word from Mitra: “Social media is such a big space that it is incredibly easy to burn out when it's your job. It's important to set clear boundaries with your clients [or company] from the beginning so you can make sure to take time away and recharge.”
📌It’s easier to disconnect when you have posts queued up to publish, so take advantage of Buffer’s scheduling capabilities to help manage your social media. Get started here.