October 4, 2023

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Four Ways Social Media Managers Can Avoid Digital Burnout

4 min read

Zarnaz Arlia is the CMO of Emplifi, a leading customer experience platform.

In 2022, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide was 147 minutes per day, according to Statista. I can only imagine that for social media managers, this number is likely much higher.

With this in mind, it really comes as no surprise that many social media professionals I know are experiencing burnout. In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that burnout is an occupational phenomenon “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

As the pandemic flipped the switch on a regular workday, blurring the lines between personal and business lives, burnout became a global phenomenon across industries and occupations. In fact, a recent report from Indeed revealed that employee burnout has worsened: 52% of all workers felt burned out in 2021. That’s a 9% increase from the same pre-Covid-19 survey.

Looking back, it’s easy for me to see what may have caused these numbers to spike, especially for those on the front lines. In those early months, I saw some of the confusion and frustration people felt become targeted at companies. Many inquiries and complaints are voiced on social media channels. And on the other side of that screen were understaffed and overworked teams with limited resources to make ends meet.

Social media has become a central medium for business communication, and social media managers are now intimately involved across business functions, including marketing, commerce and customer care. However, the increase in responsibilities can be challenging for employees.

Identify Symptoms Of Burnout

It’s important for CMOs and marketing leaders to recognize just how demanding of a role this is, which can help create a better environment for social media teams.

The 24-hour world of digital media can take a toll. The pressure of such highly visible jobs may lead social media managers to abandon their careers altogether. But as leaders, we have the ability to spot and recognize burnout symptoms before they reach the point of no return.

The Mayo Clinic identifies a few common signs of burnout, including cynicism, trouble getting started with work, irritability, trouble sleeping and even physical symptoms. Fortunately, I’ve found that some simple changes to work environments can help give you back control.

But the one saving grace is to spot burnout before it starts. Be an advocate for your team, and ensure there are resources available so employees are empowered to take care of themselves and their mental health.

Get Back In Control

Even social media managers need a break from the digital world. Here are a few of my favorite strategies anyone can follow to help reduce burnout:

1. Set Boundaries

It can be difficult to separate your work from your home life when you’re working on social media. Often personal and corporate accounts blend together, and if you’re working from home, it’s easy to fall prey to being “always on.” Digital detox shouldn’t be just a buzzword; for social media managers, it’s important to step away from the online world. This means setting break times and sticking to them, setting up blocks in your calendar for stepping away from social media, and holding yourself accountable. Having strict start and end times to your day is crucial; if you know you’ll be ending later one day, be sure to adjust your morning schedule to make time for you.

2. Filter Out The Noise

It’s easy to get sucked into the world of social media. What may start out as an innocent search for content inspiration can turn into hours of scrolling on apps. To filter out the noise, social media managers can:

1. Turn off notifications for branded accounts after working hours. If you aren’t getting constantly updated about your accounts in your free time, it will be easier to resist the urge to check in. You’ll want to be sure to list out your working hours in your bio and set up FAQs or chatbot functionalities on your social pages to help cover for you while you’re out.

2. Set up blockers in your calendar or a timer when you are doing social media research. Give yourself a dedicated time in the day to explore, but make space for this so it doesn’t become a stressor. Making lists of what you want to accomplish at the start of the day can also be an easy way to keep yourself on track.

3. Delegate

Social media teams are notoriously understaffed. If you’re jumping from platform to platform, you may want to start the search for an end-to-end tool to help lighten the load. Of course, nothing can replace hands-on help, and that’s where your colleagues can step in. It’s impossible to be everywhere at once. Set up channels at work like Slack or Teams where people can share pictures of team-building activities and company events to help you source content more easily.

4. Talk To Your Employer

Of course, if you’re not finding any effective solutions to relieve stress, you should approach your employer. It’s better to flag symptoms of burnout before they spiral out of control. Employers can help all teams manage work-related stress by setting up hotlines with external professionals, holding meeting-free Fridays, and even carving out mental health days that employees can take with no questions asked.

Sign Off To Save Your Sanity

Social media managers wear many hats, which only seem to be multiplying as new platforms and content formats are added to the table. In today’s never-ending news cycle, it’s easy to fall victim to burnout, which can negatively impact your personal and professional health. Be sure to look out for the warning signs on your team and promote healthy habits that can make a difference.

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