Battling the Social Media Burnout

Burnout has impacted so many people over the past two years (if I’m being honest, including myself). It’s a topic that hit home with many people from all walks of life and across all industries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving them feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to keep up with the constant demands of the pandemic. For me, a working mom with two toddlers who quickly became my “work colleagues,” the pandemic made it impossible to avoid burnout when I was in survival mode nonstop.

While many workplaces quickly realized how big of an issue burnout had become and enacted measures to address this growing topic of concern – from increased health and wellness activities or incentives to encourage more of a work/life balance – it’s not always an easy fix for all employees.

In this edition of Plain Talk, we’ll specifically look at social media burnout and how those tasked with creating and managing content to help your brand stand out may be at risk. Additionally, we’ll walk through ways to work with these team members to develop a system where burnout isn’t the norm.

The Great Social Media Burnout

As we began to emerge from the worst of the pandemic, employers got some scary news. It was declared that we were going through “The Great Resignation,” and despite wishful thinking, it may not be over yet. A recent survey by McKinsey found that 40% of workers in 2022 are thinking about leaving their jobs, and many in the workplace have admitted to experiencing burnout – a study by Deloitte found that 77% of professionals have experienced burnout in their current position.

Specifically, many social media managers and specialists have been battling “The Great Social Media Burnout” (working on this trademark now) over the past two years. During that time, social managers saw massive increases in traffic on social channels; at the same time, many of them were already battling an increase in workload and stress. Ironically, this led many social media professionals to spend less personal time on their own social channels at the end of the workday. Rather, they wanted to unplug but found that nearly impossible with the 24/7 demands of community management. Sometimes, it feels like a job you can’t turn off. Just look at the stats. The National Library of Medicine reports that more than 90% of people use their phones at bedtime, with 80.5% of those using them for social media. These team members need a break from being online and the proper support and systems needed to succeed.

Why, may you ask? Because if you don’t have a process in place to support the person or people who are the voice of your brand online, burnout trickles in, and you will eventually notice a shift – a shift in the creativity, a shift in your content, and even a shift in responsiveness to your followers. If you notice signs of burnout, like having trouble focusing, appearing unmotivated or no longer being eager to work, it’s time to step in to ensure the person responsible for running your pages is properly supported and that your brand engagement isn’t taking a hit.

The Great Social Media Support System

So, what can you do to ensure your organization’s social media creators and experts have what they need to thrive in an environment always on?

  • Give them the support they need to succeed. Do you have only one team member handling all your platforms for a successful brand that is getting hit with nonstop comments and questions from followers? Are they working solo on creating the content and assets for all your platforms? On top of being the social media expert, are they also the photographer? Videographer? Copywriter?

If you are a fast-paced or socially active company or brand, or an industry like healthcare where you are hit often with questions and complaints from patients that must be addressed urgently, then this team member will need some backup. If that backup never comes, burnout will creep in.

Sure, some industries are much slower-paced, and you can get away with a single social media team member, but for those operating even at a “normal” pace – you’ll want to give your social media expert the support they need to thrive. That may mean having a backup team member to assist them or alternate tasks with them or a social media agency that can serve as an extension of your team and take some of this responsibility off of the social media specialist’s plate so they can once again thrive in the social space. 

  • Automate and work ahead. Seek scheduling, monitoring and analytics tools that will ease the burden on stressed-out staff and help your team plan and schedule posts in advance. Sometimes easier said than done, but if you can work with your team to have them plan out their social media strategy in advance and implement tasks like scheduling social posts a month out when possible, it’s going to help free up those team members to focus on community management of your pages. We know working ahead isn’t always possible, but for many of our clients, we’ve been able to get them on track to be more forward-thinking on their content so it can be pre-scheduled. Another benefit of early scheduling is that it can simplify crisis response. Should a crisis occur, it only takes a few minutes to hit the “unscheduled” button and move content around to make room for crisis response. In fact, most social media platforms have an “in case of emergency” button, so should something significant happen, you can pause all scheduled social quickly and focus on the crisis at hand.
  • Encourage your team member to take some time off. I know what you are thinking – “Why in the world am I encouraging people to take time off?” The easy answer? It will be the refresh they need to be the creative social media expert you once knew and loved. Everyone needs a recharge, and you want to ensure your social media specialists are at the top of their game when creating your content. A refresh may be what they need to unplug from social media for a bit and recharge, which will also help your brand content.

Beating the burnout

It can be overwhelming these days to keep up with the many different social media channels and changing trends. While a study by Harvard University found that social media can be positive for those who are mindful users, it also found that disconnecting and mindfulness are more challenging to do when social media is your job.

As workplaces continue to look for ways to help their team members beat burnout, we encourage you to check in with your social media specialists to ensure they have the support they need and the tools available to help them, so they don’t have to be “on the clock” 24/7, and unable to mentally unwind.

If you need fresh eyes on your systems, strategy and processes or just need a little backup, drop us a note or call us at 502-499-4209, and we’ll give you a hand! Like what you read today? If you’re not already a subscriber to our Plain Talk newsletter, you can subscribe below.

Tamara Davis Public Relations Director